Speaking with NutraIngredients-USA at the recent SupplySide West show in Las Vegas, Deshanie Rai, PhD, Vice President of Global Scientific and Regulatory Affairs at OmniActive Health Technologies, explained that the COVID pandemic brought ginger into the limelight.
The current mainstream segment for ginger (Zingiber officinale) as an ingredient is for nausea and digestive, but there is emerging data on ginger’s impact on the gut microbiota and therefore its potential benefits for immune health.
A quick search of the scientific literature reveals a couple of recent studies supporting the potential of ginger extracts to modulate the gut microbiota. Specifically, a paper published in Nutrients in 2020 found that ginger extracts led to increases in levels of beneficial short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), while 6-gingerol, a major polyphenol in ginger, significantly increased the abundance of Bifidobacterium.
This led the researchers to report that Therefore, 6-gingerol may be a “potential prebiotic”.
Moreover, a paper published earlier this year in Frontiers in Microbiology reported that ginger juice consumption led to changes in bacterial diversity, with deeper analysis of the data revealing differences between men and women in the response to the juice.
“OmniActive is also exploring these links,” said Dr Rai.
OmniActive launched its high-potency, supercritical ginger extract called Gingever in 2015. The ingredient is available as a paste (providing 25% gingerols) and a powder (providing 10% gingerols). The ingredient is self-affirmed GRAS and the company is in the process of moving forward with a GRAS notification to the US Food & Drug Administration, said Dr Rai.
Sara Zoet, OmniActive’s Global Communications, Sr. Expert, confirmed that there has been expanded interest from the market for Gingever.
“To obtain the benefits of ginger you usually have to consume a lot of it, but because of our extraction process we offer it in a concentrated form, which allows for much smaller doses,” she said.
The consumer demand is evident from the market data. According to the most recent Herb Market Report published in the American Botanical Council’s HerbalGram, sales of ginger supplements increased 39% in the mainstream retail channel to hit $64.8 million in 2019. Ginger was the number 6 top selling herbal supplement in this channel in 2019. (Sales decreased very slightly in the natural channel, reporting $3.2 million in sales in that channel.)
Dr Rai added that the company’s ingredient is used in the YouTheory product retailing in CostCo, and confirmed that more CostCo launches will happen in the next few months from other brands.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” she said.