“Our company has its roots in cancer prevention research,” said Jackson Zapp, vice president of marketing for AFS. “We were studying botanical compounds’ effects on tumor pathways and how the body removes environmental toxins.”
“That spawned a human food science company. Through our research we have come up with botanical energy solutions,” he told NutraIngredients-USA.
AFS, which is based in Boulder, CO, plans to launch three functional ingredients; JAVA.g, a green coffee botanical, GYUSA.g, a botanical from guayusa tea leaves, and PURCAF, an organic 90% pure caffeine extract.
Sector under pressure
The natural positioning of the these product will be a difference-maker, Zapp said. The sector has come under intense scrutiny in the last year after Senators Dick Durbin, D-IL and Richard Blumenthal, D-CT starting looking into energy drinks after what they viewed as a rising tide of adverse event reports (including a fatality) on the products, many of which contain caffeine. The pressure culminated in a workshop held in August 2013 by the Institute of Medicine (at FDA’s behest) in 2013. The final report of that meeting was issued in mid January, and experts who reviewed the report agreed that it’s unlikely that FDA will find cause to set up a separate regulatory structure for the products.
Nevertheless, the scrutiny has formulators seeking cover, Zapp said. The trend not only is to natural solutions in a product with a forthright energy positioning, but also a move toward adding an experiential aspect to a product without calling it an ‘energy’ anything, he said.
“There are a lot of companies looking to add functional energy, but they don’t want it to be an ‘energy’ product,” Zapp said. “Formulating with plant-based, raw botanical extracts instead of synthetic caffeine sources in food and beverages will offer formulators and product developers a clean label energy solution, while providing additional nutritional benefits.”
Zapp also said the ingredients could help energy product companies compete in an increasingly sophisticated marketplace. Sports nutrition is one of teh fastest growing categories in teh dietary supplement realm, and all of the marketing and messaging that those sales help drive is having an effect among consumers.
“As consumers continue to educate themselves they will be looking for new solutions. They are not going to go back to the same old protein powder,” he said.
Zapp said in addition to the natural message, the company’s ingredients also have a sustainability story to tell, especially the guayusa ingredient, which is sourced at several locations in South America.
“We do a lot of due diligence in our sustainable sourcing,” Zapp said. “It’s really nice to see how the local communites are growing as result of their relationship with us.”