Demand has been particularly strong for its cardioprotective Benolea olive leaf extract and bladder control ingredient Go Less, Jeff Lind, vice president of Frutarom’s US health business unit told NutraIngredients-USA.
An attorney by trade, Lind held senior positions at Solgar, Garden State Nutritionals and Sabinsa before joining Frutarom last fall and is on a mission to drive recognition of his business unit as a leading supplier of science-backed health ingredients and not just “the younger sibling” of Frutarom’s larger US flavors business.
“My goal is to get to a point where I don’t start a conversation with someone new to the business by saying, ‘well, we’re better known for flavors…”
While Frutarom has made a string of acquisitions in recent years, Lind’s focus is on organic growth, he said.
“If an acquisition opportunity arises of course we will look at that, but it’s not my focus. We have a very strong range of proprietary ingredients that are backed by science, and there is a huge amount of potential to grow organically.”
Bladder control a huge untapped opportunity
Interest in Go Less - which has just been incorporated into Jarrow Formula’s Prostate Optimizer supplement - had surged in recent months, said Lind, who believes the market for supplements to tackle an overactive bladder could be huge, with millions of Americans suffering from mild incontinence or the need to urinate frequently during the night.
“We’re seeing some very significant companies showing an interest in Go Less, from well-known mass market companies to natural food product companies.”
In human clinical trials with Go Less - a combination of pumpkin seed extract and soy germ isoflavones - participants experienced a significant reduction in the need to urinate at night and fewer accidents, he said.
However, there is surprisingly little competition in the supplements market, with most products focusing on urinary tract infections, and many consumers “suffering in silence”.
While large numbers of women suffer from an overactive bladder later in life, especially after pregnancy, a significant minority of men also experience similar problems, he added.
Blood glucose control
Olive leaf extract Benolea is also performing strongly as the science around olive polyphenols continues to grow, while a positive opinion from EFSA about the ability of olive polyphenols to reduce oxidized LDL cholesterol - a key risk factor for atherosclerosis - had also generated interest, he said.
“However, the great thing about Benolea is that we also have proprietary clinical data on it as well. We’ve seen a lot of companies start to incorporate it into formulas over the past 10 months."
There has also been a recent surge in interest in Portusana, a branded purslane herb extract shown to slow glucose absorption, he said.
“We’re starting to see the same kind of growth in this that we’ve seen with Benolea in the last 10 months. Blood glucose control is an area of the market where there is strong potential but not many companies have really capitalized on it yet.”
While the bulk of sales in his division are to the dietary supplements market, Frutarom also supplies ingredients for foods, drinks, cosmetics and beauty-from-within applications, said Lind.
“We have a unique position in the market because we already have strong relationships with food and beverage manufacturers via our flavors division.
“A key focus for me has been to make sure that we are maximizing cross selling opportunities and ensuring that our account reps in flavors have enough knowledge to answer initial questions about our health ingredients as well.”
We don’t need new regulations, we just need existing regulations to be enforced properly
So what, if anything, keeps Lind awake at night?
Probably the biggest challenges is ensuring sustainable and consistent supplies of natural ingredients in the face of volatile weather patterns and climate change, he said.
But what about the threat of more regulation, and the snake oil merchants that give the trade a bad name?
“Regulatory issues seem to keep a lot of people awake at night”, noted Lind.
“But in and of itself, regulation shouldn’t be scary to companies that are running their businesses correctly.”
As for tackling the snake oil merchants, he said: “We don’t need new regulations, we just need existing regulations to be enforced properly.
“My goal is to see this industry evolve into a responsible and science-based industry where we are looked upon with respect.”