Virun, based in Walnut, CA, is a biotech development company that specializes in new delivery technologies for pharmaceuticals and dietary supplement ingredients. The company brands its vitamin E-based platform as Esolv, and it has been developing the approach for a number of years, Virun CEO Philip Bromley said.
“We’ve been working on this particular patent (U.S. Patent 9,351,517) for close to a decade,” Bromley told NutraIngredients-USA. “We never filed it because we continued to research it. We were offering solutions in our earlier form of the Esolv technology. This newer form is a higher diester form that can hold three times as much oil as a typical monoester. You can put more of an ingredient into a beverage and still get the same clarity.”
Clean label emulsification
Getting oil-based or hard-to-disperse ingredients to emulsify is nothing new, Bromley said. The reason his company’s technology has become so popular—it is now used for everything from fish oil to astaxanthin—is that the Esolv platform can perform that function and still fit into a clean label claim.
“It is a cleaner label claim that what was possible in the past. They are coming to us because they don’t want to use polysorbate 80-type compounds,” Bromley said.
As with many formulation steps and processing aids, the devil is in the details when it comes to what someone might consider ‘natural.’ Bromley speaks of a ‘cleaner’ label solution in part because the company does use polyethelene glycol at one stage its its production of its Esolv carrier.
“In processing our vitamin E derivative we use a natural emulsification process. But we do use a polyethylene glycol as a processing aid, and as part of the process we remove all of the PEG,” Bromley said.
Putting oil-based ingredients into beverages has been possible before, but achieving clarity in those formulations has been a challenge. The Vitamin Waters of the world, for all of those products’ initial formulation shortcomings, created the category of clear functional beverages, and turbid offerings that can’t attribute that opacity to the inclusion of fruit pulp have not resonated as well with consumers. To some degree ‘clear’ is associated in consumers’ minds with ‘clean.’
“We do a lot of private label for different clients. One of the largest beverage companies is coming to us to use this technology to replace its current surfactant. Now 95% of our business is producing formulations and producing products for clients,” Bromley said.