Stepan adds to MCT/keto trend with new product launch

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

Stepan adds to MCT/keto trend with new product launch
Despite the cooling fortunes of coconut as a healthful culinary oil, the prospects for its medium chain triglyceride derivative have never been brighter. Stepan has added to its MCT line, boosting a trend of product development in this area.

Stepan Lipid Nutrition will introduce the product, called NEOBEE ProKeto, at its booth at the SupplySide West trade show in Las Vegas, NV next month. The product is a micro-encapsulated C8 MCT oil sprayed onto a pea protein support to create a free flowing powder for food and supplement applications.

Coconut raw material

Bob Peacock, vice president and general manager of Stepan's Specialty Products Business, said coconut and palm oil are the two most common sources of MCT ingredients, both the 8-carbon and 10-carbon variety. But coconut at the moment has fewer drawbacks, with the concerns raised in international environmental circles about palm oil production and its effect on remaining stands of virgin rainforest.

The palm oil industry has been attempting to address this concerns via a certification offered through the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil.  But even for giants such as Unilever, maintaining standards and credibility through the supply chain has proven to be a challenge​. 

It’s even more difficult for a smaller company such as Stepan to keep this story straight with its customers, Peacock said.

“We do have an RSPO source of palm oil, but it’s hard to communicate the importance of that to customers,” ​Peacock told NutraIngredients-USA.

“Currently we are using a coconut stream. The problem with coconut is there is really no certifying body. If we can get a certified coconut stream, we’ll have to judge the reaction to that and see if the market is really willing to pay the additional amount for that type of certification,”​ he said.

Increasing interest in MCT ingredients

Peacock said once the MCT fractions are refined out, there is no difference in their performance as ingredients whether they were sourced from palm or from coconut.

Stepan’s launch will make the third such launch in recent months. One company has launched a finished good with protein and MCT oil​, while another announced in September that it will sell a powdered MCT oil into the US market​.

Peacock said there is plenty of room in the market for competition and innovation. MCT ingredients fit well into the ketogenic diet craze.  But unlike some other ingredients whose sudden popularity was based on hype, he said MCT oil has solid science behind it that is driving the increasing demand, he said.

“In the past year and half to two years there has been a lot of positive press on the  cognitive benefits of MCT oils,” ​Peacock said. “There is a lot of good science behind this ingredient.”

Stepan will display its full line of ingredients at its booth, No. 3333.

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