Latin American supplement, functional food markets are underdeveloped, but more innovative, chia supplier says

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

Benexia photo
Benexia photo
Benexia, a Chile-based supplier of chia and other plant-based nutraceutical ingredients, says the low market penetration of dietary supplement ingredients in the continent means the market has a huge potential upside.

Benexia has been in the forefront of developing chia and a food and supplement ingredient.  CEO Sandra Gillot gave NutraIngredients-LATAM her perspective on where the company is going and what opportunities she sees in the market.  Although Benexia is based in the region, still the largest markets for its ingredients are in North America and Europe, she said.

Small part of company’s customer portfolio

“In the food and nutraceutical industries, there is a stable and growing market in Latin America that represents 10% of our total sales, and this is normal due to the size of these local markets.  The industry is developing with our ingredients everywhere and our hottest projects are in North America and Europe,”​ she said.

But Gillot said while the Latin American markets might be smaller, she thinks there is more innovation in these markets.

“We are also working on very big projects in Brazil, Colombia and Perú.  LATAM for us is a large R & D laboratory; the food and beverage and nutraceutical industries are very innovative here, and more opened to take risks (with respect to the US or EU) to launch innovative products,”​ she said.

More innovation

Gillot said the company has launched a number of innovative functional food and dietary supplemten products recently in Latin America.  Bio2, a Brazilian sports nutrition brand, has launched a protein shake featuring Benexia’s Xia Powder 125 chia protein ingredient. The company’s chia fiber ingredients have been featured in gluten free pastas in Chile and Colombia. 

On the supplement side, Brazilian manufacturer Mother’s Nutrients has launched a supplement featuring Benexia’s chia oil to add omega-3 content.  And a Chilean manufacturer has launched a supplement based on Benexia’s Xia powder-435, which combines green tea, ginger, chromium and other ingredients for detoxification and weight loss applications.

Gillot said the market for nutritional supplements in general is underdeveloped compared to other parts of the globe.  That means there will be ample room for growth in the future.  Gillot said she expects the Brazilian economy to recover after the end of its recent period of political instability.

“LATAM is still not a big consumer of nutritional supplements yet, but the market continues to grow as the economy is developing and the acquisitive power of the population is growing,”​ she said.

“Countries like Brazil are big consumers of nutritional supplements, especially supplements rich in protein for athletes,”​ Gillot added.

Partnering for growth

To help fuel its growth, Benexia entered into a partnership with Japanese ingredient supplier Taiyo to market its Chia oil.  One of Benexia’s value add propositions is its proprietary Ox Blocker process, which the company says improves shelf life and stability.

Gillot said there is good match in corporate culture between Taiyo and Benexia.

“Because our chia oil featuring XIA PURE Ox Blocker is so unique, we needed a company that knows how to successfully launch and sustain interest for branded ingredients that possess truly original technology. Taiyo meets our high standards for what we were looking for in a partner,” ​she said.

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