Protein Innovation

High interest in protein content and high-protein lines across the food and drinks market is continuing to develop, despite the fact that most European and North American consumers already get enough protein in their diets. This will be just one of the areas addressed by Innova Market Insights at its “Taste the Trend” Pavilion (Booth #3651) at the IFT Food Expo in New Orleans, June 21-24.

According to Innova Market Insights, the protein trend is driven by increasing health concerns – primarily weight management – plus the move of sports and performance products into the mainstream and targeted at the more generally active, rather than just athletes and sportsmen. Another trend on the rise is the Paleo diet, focusing on lean protein, while avoiding processed foods and sugars.

“The time is right for protein innovation,” says Lu Ann Williams, Director of Innovation at Innova Market Insights. Williams cites a number of drivers, including the need to feed a growing global population, an alarming rise in sarcopenia (declining muscle mass, particularly among an aging population), and the economic and environmental costs of existing protein sources. “Proteins have diverse application potential, with opportunities for alternative vegetarian options, and new protein sources – such as microalgae – alongside existing and novel dairy-based and vegetable sources, such as soy, beans and grains,” she adds.

Innova Market Insights data indicate that nearly 3% of global food and beverage launches in the 12 months ending 31 March, 2014, were marketed on a “high-protein” or “source-of-protein” positioning, rising to 6% in the US.

Demand for whey protein specifically is soaring as a result of growing demand in certain Asian markets, as well as its rising popularity as a natural, healthy ingredient, particularly in sports, medical and infant nutrition, and in weight management. While vegetables lead the list for the number of published protein patents in food and drinks, whey has risen from eighth position in 2012 to third position in 2013. At the same time, the number of nut and seed protein patents has also risen sharply, from single figures in 2012 to more than 200 in 2013. Even more exciting has been the strong activity in patent actions relating to algae-derived proteins.

 

Artificial Astaxanthin from DSM AstaSana® shown to be vastly inferior to Natural Algae Astaxanthin in Antioxidant Potential

The Natural Algae Astaxanthin Association (NAXA) has obtained further comparative antioxidant testing results from a leading antioxidant testing laboratory showing that artificial astaxanthin produced from petrochemicals has vastly inferior antioxidant potential than natural astaxanthin from Haematococcus microalgae.  The results showed that algae-based astaxanthin was superior to DSM’s AstaSana in different antioxidant tests; the range was from 9 times more active against peroxyl radicals to over 100 times more active against singlet oxygen.

Results of previous head-to-head testing of algae-based astaxanthin versus artificial astaxanthin from petrochemicals were published in the peer-reviewed journal NutraFoods in December 2013.  These independent results from both Creighton University and an independent laboratory showed that algae-based astaxanthin is approximately 20 to 50 times more active in singlet oxygen quenching and free radical elimination than artificial astaxanthin.  However, the members of NAXA felt that further testing was necessary since the earlier tests were not done specifically with the DSM AstaSana product.

“We see the same results with the AstaSana product that we saw in earlier antioxidant testing of artificial astaxanthin,” said Robert Corish, MD, a member of NAXA and a worldwide authority on astaxanthin.  “Plain and simple, the two products are completely different — not only in antioxidant potential, but the molecules are also different in three crucial ways.  It’s only logical that these products will perform differently in antioxidant testing because they’re inherently different molecules.  And while all the human clinical research showing a wide variety of health benefits has been performed exclusively on natural astaxanthin from algae, we still don’t know how artificial astaxanthin will react in our bodies long term.”

Questions remain not only about the efficacy of artificial astaxanthin, but also about its safety and regulatory status.  Dr. Corish concluded, “There has not been one published safety study on direct human consumption of this synthesized molecule and it hasn’t gone through the FDA’s NDI (New Dietary Ingredient) process.  Frankly, we’re amazed that DSM launched it in the US market without going through these necessary steps.”