The health benefits of curcumin have been known and studied for a long time. Curcumin’s source plant, turmeric, has been a mainstay of Indian cooking for centuries and has been part of the Ayurvedic medical tool chest. Among the best researched effects of curcumin has been its ability to mitigate inflammation via the NfKb pathway.
Sabinsa has been working on the curcumin solubility question for a while, said marketing director Shaheen Majeed. The market opportunity was made obvious by the accelerating popularity of drinks featuring turmeric in various markets where consumers wanted the health benefits and weren’t turned off by particle deposition or the ingredient’s harsh taste.
“About eight or ten years ago we saw the boom in Japan in turmeric drinks and turmeric shots,” Majeed told NutraIngredients-USA during a recent interview at the Expo West trade show in Anaheim, CA. “They were all in opaque packing, no clear wrappings. But if you looked in the bottom you could see the particles. They all had sedimentation and they tasted terrible.”
“We thought, why couldn’t there be a way to get the ingredient into a clear beverage?” he said.
The new ingredient is a powder that will dissolve completely, Majeed said, opening up the market for shelf-stable beverages that offer curcumin’s benefits in an application that will appeal to North Americans, Majeed said. The market here has historically been somewhat unfriendly to turbid beverages prone to sedimentation. The new ingredient will allow for clear packaging, Majeed said, though it will still give a yellowish cast to the finished product.
Defense of patents
Sabinsa has a long history in curcumin development. It is vertically integrated in its turmeric supply in India and has studies its C3 Complex ingredient for a number of health indications, including a recent study on its effect on moderating blood triglyceride levels. The popularity of the ingredient has led to a raft of copy cat versions, and last year the company moved to do something about it, Majeed said.
A proposed settlement of a patent infringement suit against Indian firm Prakruti Products Private Limited was submitted to the United States District Court in New Jersey on February 18, 2015. The lawsuit, filed in the US District Court, New Jersey on July 30, 2014, alleged Prakruti was selling products that infringed upon Sabinsa’s Curcumin C3 Complex US Patent 5,861,415, which protects compositions, methods of use, and methods of extraction of a nutritional supplement in the US.
The suit was one of four that Sabinsa filed against four suppliers that were manufacturing ingredients and selling them into the US market that violated the patent. The other three suits are still ongoing.
The uC3 Clear ingredient had a soft launch at Expo West, which was all to the good as the company's booth signage and materials arrived late, making for a somewhat understated presentation, Majeed said. Samples of the ingredient will be available to customers worldwide starting in April, he said.