The line is especially suitable for chewable products such as gums and sweets that are targeted at children.
Mineral deficiencies, very common in some developing countries, still exist, particularly among children, in developed nations but increasing their intake through the diet is made more difficult by the metallic taste of many minerals.
Biodar, part of the LycoRed group, has developed a coating derived from palm oil that resists the grinding and chewing forces in the mouth so that consumers does not taste the minerals in a gum or tablet.
The active ingredient then passes to the stomach or intestine where they can be absorbed by the body.
Udi Alroy, marketing director for Biodar, said the technology also allows makers of chewable supplements to reduce the often high sugar content, used to mask the taste of minerals.
"We were asked to find a solution for adding minerals to a gummy bear product or chew, without adding sugar. Many products on the market are 50 per cent sugar," he told NutraIngredients.com.
Child-specific supplements are one of the few areas of growth in mature supplement markets such as the UK.
Market research firm Euromonitor forecasts that vitamins and dietary supplements for children will grow by 19 per cent between 2003 and 2008, or compound annual growth of 3.6 per cent, to reach £28.1 million in 2008. This compares to overall growth in vitamins and dietary supplements of 1.2 per cent.
In less developed markets, such products are seeing even stronger growth - in the Czech Republic, child-specific vitamins increased 6 per cent over 2003 to CK460 million, up 76 per cent since 1998, while in China, child-specific vitamins and supplements are growing an average 24 per cent annually, increasing from RMB33 million in 1998 to RMB100 million in 2003, according to Euromonitor.
However there is also pressure to cut out sugar from children's diets.Biodar's new minerals line contains some aspartame and flavours but most importantly, masks the metallic taste of the minerals.
"In focus groups children have said they don't like chewables because of the metallic taste. Adults are willing to suffer for their health but if children don't like the taste of a supplement, they're not going to take it," noted Alroy.
He added that taste can act as a barrier to repeat business for supplement firms.
"People have not been using much minerals because of the taste issue. But with our product they can fortify with much more."
Biodar recommends that supplement companies offer 10-15 per cent RDA of iron for example.
"Everyone wants to add 100 per cent of the RDA but if the chewables taste so good, children take them like sweets. You need to be careful about overdoses with minerals," explained Alroy.
Biodar is also working on microencapsulation of minerals for the World Health Organisation, which is involved in food fortification programmes. It has also developed an encapsulated iron to fortify milk, available on the Israeli market.
"Fortification is only beginning in Europe but in Israel we are not allowed to use overages and use encapsulation instead. Overall manufacturers are preparing to follow this trend and would like to stop using overages," added Alroy.
The minerals line for chewables will be launched at Vitafoods, running from 10-12 May in Geneva.