Health, sustainability, protein ingredients driving innovation

18 May 2022 — Since the pandemic, health and well-being have come…

18 May 2022 — Since the pandemic, health and well-being have come into sharpened focus, which, in turn, continues to drive the application of organic ingredients across a range of F&B products. Organics are gaining ground from conscious consumption in ready-to-drink beverages to lighter alcohol trends and the timely high demand for organic whey and lactose in the infant formula space. 

According to Innova Market Insights, the use of organic ingredients in food and beverage launches is increasing globally, featuring a +5% year-over-year growth when comparing 2020 and 2021 launches.

In 2021, the top category of global product launches tracked with organic ingredients was Baby & Toddlers (19%). In 2021, Botanical Ingredients was the leading ingredient category among the global product launches tracked with organic ingredients.

The top positionings of global product launches tracked with organic ingredients in 2021 are Organic (86%), Gluten-Free (31%), and Vegan (29%).

A range of suppliers and food and beverage innovators speak to FoodIngredientsFirst about the consumer trends and market dynamics in the organics arena and how organic ingredients are expected to grow in the years ahead. 

Colorful, powerful organicsBotanical Ingredients was the leading the ingredient category in global product launches tracked with organic ingredients.
Maartje Hendrickx, market development manager, GNT Group, explains what is driving the organic ingredients at the company and how it is leveraging current trends.

“Health and sustainability credentials are more important than ever for consumers and these two trends are driving demand for organic food and drink. Organic farming standards generally feature practices that maintain ecological balance and restrict the use of certain pesticides and fertilizers,” she says.

GNT’s EU and USDA organic-certified Exberry Coloring Foods can help organic brands create colorful food and drink while maintaining clean and clear labels. They’re made from edible fruits, vegetables, and plants using only water and physical processing methods. 

“This means they’re considered to be food ingredients rather than food additives in many parts of the world, including the EU and the UK. We also have a strong commitment to the environment and recently unveiled our ambitious plans to make GNT the leader in our field on sustainability,” Hendrickx continues.

The company recently launched two new yellow and green Exberry Organics liquids, adding to its red, purple, pink, blue and orange options. Exberry Organics “Fruit & Veg Yellow” is made from organic safflower and organic apple and Exberry Organics “Veg Green” is created from organic safflower and organic spirulina. 

“They’re both compliant with Organic Regulation (EU) 2018/848. The new shades are highly versatile and can be used in almost any application, including beverages, confectionery, dairy, snacks, baked goods, and plant-based products,” Hendrickx notes.

Organic claims in infant formula marketKatrine Helene Kristensen, industry marketing manager, dairy & bakery, Arla Foods Ingredients.
Katrine Helene Kristensen, industry marketing manager, Dairy & Bakery, for Arla Foods Ingredients, cites consumer interest in naturalness and health as the key drivers of organics.

“Another sector where organic products are clearly driving growth is in the global infant formula market, where more than 15% of launches in the last three years have featured organic claims,” Kristensen points out.

Organic whey and lactose are in high demand in the infant formula market.

“The sector is expected to grow by 10% over the next five years, but with demand for organic whey and lactose rapidly outpacing supply, insufficient availability of infant grade organic raw materials has – to date – threatened to hold back growth,” she explains. 

“That is one of the reasons we introduced our patented milk fractionation technology ‘Origin by Arla Foods Ingredients’, to enable manufacturers in the early life nutrition sectors to easily bypass organic whey shortages,” she adds.

The US continues to face a baby formula shortage, with parents scrambling to find supplies. Over the past few months, the problem has been brewing due to compounding issues, including the supply chain crisis and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

The situation escalated further after Abbott Nutrition voluntarily recalled a number of its products after an FDA investigation was launched in connection with four children being hospitalized, whereas two died.

Arla Foods Ingredients (AFI) is currently using its new technology to manufacture the organic Baby&Me brand for Arla Foods. AFI expects to launch its first organic private label infant formula solutions based on the technology during 2022. 

In addition to organic whey and lactose, there continues to be a growing demand for organic functional protein products in the health-conscious consumer segment, highlights Kristensen.

“To tap into this, we launched our first organic product range, Nutrilac MicelPure Organic, which is suitable for health and performance applications, such as ready-to-drink high-protein beverages and powder shakes. It also works well in food applications such as cheeses, yogurts, and ice cream,” she says. 

Conscious consumption
Mixing organics at home is outliving its popularity established during early quarantine periods with the forced closure of clubs and bars, explains Cornelia Kerschbaumer, director of marketing and communication at Austria Juice.

“Originally, this development began during the lockdowns through delivery services of the gastronomy – but in the meantime, it has already reached the supermarkets,” she says. 

“Austria Juice has reacted promptly to this trend and developed popular basic products for mixed drinks in organic quality, like Organic Cola, Organic Tonic, Organic Berry, Organic Bitter Orange, Organic Bitter Lemon and Organic Ginger Ale.”Arla Foods Ingredients will focus on the organic sector this year. 

The organic range also expands in alcoholic beverages with a greater mix of organic ingredients, unconventional flavors and a comprehensive overall benefit for well-being and health, notes Kerschbaumer.“Austria Juice has responded to this trend with cider based on 100% organic, suitable ingredients, a higher juice content and new innovative flavor combinations. With alcohol levels of around 5% volume, this light alcoholic beverage category in different flavors also appeals to consumers’ need to drink light and fruity refreshments.”

Growth opportunities in organics
Arla Foods Ingredients launched its first organic ingredient, Nutrilac MicelPure, in August 2020 and Kristensen explains how the launch of the organic micellar casein isolate marked the start of the company’s long-term strategy of filling the gap in the market for natural, organic protein ingredients.

“The company will continue its focus on the organic sector in 2022, and it will reveal details about several projects throughout the year,” she concludes. 

Meanwhile, at GNT, Hendrickx believes the company’s newly expanded Exberry Organics range “opens up more opportunities than ever before” for organic brands to create vibrant food and drink with completely clean and clear labels.

“While health and sustainability are the key drivers for most organic purchases, it’s essential to ensure that these products look appealing as well. Consumers can see organic products as boring and have a negative perception of their taste. Vibrant shades can transform those perceptions and ensure organic food and drink looks truly appetizing on the shelf,” she says. 

By Gaynor Selby


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