The ingredient, called SunCran Naturelle, combines an organic cranberry powder from Fruit d’Or with Taiyo’s propriety Sunfiber soluble guar fiber. The combination results in a formulation that has both gut and urinary tract health benefits.
Preserving the polyphenols
The ability of proanthocyanidins to help prevent the adhesion of harmful microbes in the urinary tract has been long studied. But the standardization of these products in the marketplace has been a weak point. The active polyphenol constituents can be sensitive to different handling techniques, and while they might look and taste similar, their bioactivity profiles might be distinctly different.
“We had been looking at combining an organic fruit juice concentrate with our fiber for a while,” said Derek Timm. Part of the development process was finding an ingredient with the right polyphenol profile.
Fruit d’Or’s cranberry juice powder is dried with a proprietary technology called INFIDRI, a gentle method that better preserves the delicate bioactives.
“Most drying technology uses high heat,” Timm said. “This technology uses infrared light to force the water molecules out of the solution.”
The wavelength chosen targets the water without putting energy into the polyphenol constituents, Timm said. Tests run on a blueberry material proved that it protects polyphenols better, he said.
“We were looking for something different,” Timm said.
He added that the difference was apparent even from the look of the material. The juice powder dried with the INFIDRI technique was a vibrant red. Many other cranberry ingredients that the company investigated were a duller hue, or even tending toward a brownish-red shade.
“I thought, well, I know this is cranberry, but it doesn’t look like cranberry” he said. “It looked oxidized.”
Educating customers on the benefits
Timm said that the drying technique is not as streamlined as some others. So while quality goes up, throughput goes down and costs rise as well. But he said the gain in bioactivity is well worth the tradeoff.
But that’s not something that’s always immediately apparent to customers, he said. It takes some education to get the point across about why not all cranberry ingredients are created equal.
“It is more expensive than most of the common drying technology. It does add a little to the cost of the final product, so it is good to be transparent about that,” he said. “We emphasize that INFIDRI came out of academia, and there are studies that back it up.”
“If the end point were just flavor, there might not be such a need for this. It is something that requires a bit of education. We try to help our customers understand why this is important and the bridge it makes to the functional and health benefits of the product,” Timm said.