Capsanthin is one of the most powerful antioxidants in nature, seen in laboratory trials to be eight times more potent than the carotenoid lycopene. However natural capsanthin is not bioavailable to humans, meaning that its use in human nutrition market has been severely limited until now. However Ilex subsidiary CapsiVit Biotechnolgy funded development work by the Volcani Institute to produce a capsanthin-rich extract from the Capsicum annum L plant that is bioavailable. And the new deal with Frutarom looks set to give this breakthrough legs in the nutraceutical, functional and health food and animal nutrition markets. Antioxidant is a catch-all term for molecules that slow or prevent oxidation. Although there are many different kinds of antioxidants, the word has gained considerable consumer recognition due to growing interest in healthy living and research showing how antioxidants can combat some of the detrimental effects of modern living - such as stress, pollution, sun exposure, poor diet and smoking. According to Frutarom, usually only a small amount of capsathin is processed by digestive enzymes and absorbed by the blood. But by using enzymes that are naturally found in the digestive system industrially, the new patent-protected technology is said to overcome the bioavailability issue. Positive clinical trials on efficacy and bioavailability have been conducted at Raibam Hospotal, Haifa, Israel; these are understood to have been positively concluded, but full results have not been seen by NutraIngredients.com. Commercialisation of the extract will be a joint effort between the two parties. With its expertise in natural product manufacturing, Frutarom will be responsible for scaling up production to industrial levels, adhering to international quality standards. The product is estimated to be one year from market launch; no name has been disclosed at this stage. Frutarom is presently one of the most exiting companies in the natural, value-added ingredients and flavours market, in the midst of a rapid growth strategy that has seen a flurry of acquisitions, deals and launches in the past 12 months. Frutarom president and CEO Ori Yehudai said: "The addition of this unique, innovative product to Frutarom's sizeable offering of natural products will contribute to the continued realisation of Frutarom's rapid growth strategy, with emphasis on natural products intended for segments with higher than average growth rates, such as functional food, health food and food supplements." When Frutarom acquired Flaschmann in 2003 it considerably increased its stake in the botanicals market. But despite a several announcements of new buys in the past six months (Acatris Health; Belmay; Jupiter) the group's growth is not just predicated on acquisitions. It has also signalled support for innovation through investment in start-ups, research institutes and universities. For instance, last September it signed an agreement with D-Herb that gives it exclusive global license to a plant extract to reduce and stabilise glucose levels in diabetes and pre-diabetes sufferers. In parallel to this partnership strategy, Frutarom also has conducts its own internal R&D. Products to emerge from the Frutarom pipeline recently include omega-3 rich Salvia oil, wild green oats aimed at mental health, pink rock rose extract for respiratory health, and a bladder-health ingredient called Go-Less that combines the pumpkin seed extract EFLA 940 with SoyLife soy germ isoflavone extract. The company's R&D spend for the year is bundled with ling and marketing costs in its general and administrative expenses reporting line. In 2006, this line read $48.5m compared to $43.8 in 2005. The group reported sales of US$287.2m in full year 2006, up from $243.8 in 2005. Operating profits for the year increased 12.9 per cent over 2005 to US$37.1m.