Green movement takes centre stage at Vitafoods

By Shane Starling in Geneva

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags European union Dsm

Green business practises were one of the few themes to emerge from
this year's Vitafoods trade show in Geneva, which was strangely
devoid of true ingredient innovation.

More environmentally-friendly sourcing, manufacturing, packaging and distribution were among the initiatives being undertaken by various suppliers. Many suppliers put the lack of innovation down to the stifling effect the European Union health and nutrition claims legislation was having on innovation, as the industry waited for the EU to decide which health claims would be permitted within its 27 member states. Verdicts on thousands of health claim submissions received by the European Commission (EC) are expected by January, 2010. In the absence of novel offerings, a number of companies used Vitafoods to launch or promote their green initiatives and credentials. Going green​ One of the bigger players to do so was DSM, whose Quali-Blends ingredient quality system is built upon a green platform. Global marketing manager Martijn Adorf told that environmentally sustainable supply had become a cornerstone of every aspect of the Dutch multinational's operations. "A shake-out is occurring in ingredients supply,"​ he said. "Consumers are demanding transparency and those companies that can't deliver on that are going to find their business affected." ​Quali-Blends is built upon several platforms that included traceability and sustainability. ​There was also a business advantage in such strategies in a climate where increasingly price-competitive supply lines were coming on-stream in places like China and India. Western suppliers that couldn't compete on price had to develop other strategies to differentiate their ingredients and demonstrating their environmental friendliness was one of them. "Essentially, we don't compete on price any more,"​ said Adorf. "We are about quality and sustainability." ​ DSM is launching a scheme in the UK this summer that would measure the carbon footprint of its vitamin C ingredient. DSM is the only non-Chinese manufacturer of vitamin C. Norwegian fish oils specialist, EPAX, emphasised the importance of vertical integration, something it has been working towards since being purchased by the fishing conglomerate Austevoll in 2007. This had allowed it to secure its fish supply and ensure that supply was sustainable, an issue that has drawn increasing scrutiny as more of the fish oil supply is drawn to the biofuels sector. Raw material prices have been forced up by as much as 100 per cent as a result, a fact that places further pressure on green practises but EPAX said its green policies were not up for compromise. The emergence of clean omega-3 sources such as krill has also brought attention to the environmentally friendliness of the fish oil supply. The industry notes only about 10 per cent of fish oil is used for human nutrition, with the rest used as feedstock and, increasingly, biofuels.

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