The self-affirmed generally recognized as safe (GRAS) status means that the company’s geniVida ingredient – which has so far been used only in dietary supplements – can now expand to food and drink applications, including dairy, chocolate, medical foods and a range of beverages.
GeniVida, which changed its name from Bonistein in January last year so it could become part of DSM’s ‘-vida’ range, is marketed as a ‘pure’, ‘soy-free’ genistein that “helps support natural processes that alleviate menopausal symptoms”. Produced via a patended process, the chemically-defined ‘nature-identical’ ingredient is also said to help maintain bone health.
Although the target population for the product is mature women, DSM also says it has been associated with prostate benefits in older men.
These benefits are supported by recent studies conducted using the ingredient, says DSM’s director of communications Bill Brown, both of which the firm hopes to get published “within the next six months or so”.
Consumer awareness and acceptance
Consumer research conducted by the company found that the majority of mature women surveyed were well informed about the benefits of genistein.
For example, the firm tested different positioning language for a branded ‘healthy bones’ yogurt to see what resonated best with consumers. Top of the list, voted for by just under three quarters of consumers was the statement: “calcium, vitamin D and genistein are an ideal combination for bone health in mature women”.
“Our market research has shown a good interest in products for menopausal relief and bone health. It’s also shown that people do recognize that genistein plays a very positive role in this,” said the company’s marketing manager for geniVida Aparna Parikh.
On the shelves
DSM did not confirm whether it will also apply for a letter of non-objection from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is viewed in the industry as the carte blanche for adopting an ingredient in food and drink products. However, the company says that its GRAS self-affirmation usually carries enough weight with customers due to the firm’s strong reputation in the industry.
Since it announced GRAS for geniVida last month, DSM says it has already received very positive inquiries from the industry, and is working with a number of firms to incorporate the ingredient into food products.
“Within 6-12 months we hope to see some foods on the market,” said Parikh. The firm would not reveal what products are likely to hit the shelves first, but did say that “dairy is high on the list, as well as beverages. Everyone’s looking to innovate in these categories, and there is a lot of potential.”