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Nutraceutical giants’ partnerships inject life back into industry at Vitafoods

October 10, 2021
Life sciences

Some of industry’s biggest players are joining forces to bring cost-effective yet scientifically backed offerings to the nutraceuticals market. Co-creation is reinvigorating supplement innovation, pairing together companies’ diverse expertise, sales networks and clinical trial investments. Lallemand Health Solutions has been particularly active, recently partnering with both Activ Inside and FrieslandCampina Ingredients. Other notable examples include Omya and Gelita, as well as a long-standing partnership between Lonza and Kappa Bioscience.

NutritionInsight speaks to ingredient collaborators on the show floor of Vitafoods Europe 2021 about how co-creation can reduce costs, while yielding products with convincing claims and patents.

“Today, it is really difficult and very expensive to create a new ingredient from scratch,” says Benoit Lemaire, CEO and co-founder at Activ Inside.

“Look at Vitafoods, what’s new? Everyone is talking about CBD, which was from two or three years ago. It’s not that the people are not investing in new ingredients – it is because of regulation and because there are already many, many products on the market.”

He recalls that Activ Inside invested some €5 million (US$5.7 million) in the development of its Memophenol memory ingredient “just to explain how it works.”

Building on claims
One strategy Activ Inside has found to skirt these barriers is to launch a new line of products in partnership with Lallemand Health Solutions.

The new range dubbed “Activ ‘Biotics” combines Activ Inside’s clinically studied Safr’inside with Lallemand’s science-based Cerebiome probiotics.

The new combination can feature health claims the individual products cannot alone – an important point for both probiotics and collagen producers in Europe, where EFSA has not approved any health claims for those ingredients.

As an example, the synergistic duo can use Safr’inside’s pending botanical claims in Europe, such as “contributes to emotional balance,” “helps to support relaxation,” or “helps in maintaining a positive mood.”

Meanwhile, Cerebiome’s health claims in Canada can be leveraged, which include “promotes a healthy mood balance” and “helps to moderate general feelings of anxiety.”

Complements abound
For collagen producers, the addition of vitamins or minerals can also help to boost claim status. In an industry collaboration that began shortly before the pandemic, calcium supplier Omya and collagen producer Gelita co-created a cocoa-based beverage for bone health.

The prototype product brings together Gelita’s clinically backed Fortibone bioactive collagen peptides with EFSA-approved calcium claims for bone and teeth maintenance.

Katja Reichenbach, head of product management Europe at Omya, notes that the team-up allows each company to benefit from each other’s sales networks. It also provides the opportunity for the company to present its recently released Omyaforte 100, with enhanced bioavailability in a more appealing format than its standard white powder form.

Trusted partners
For Lonza’s associate director, head of regional marketing, Anne Holderbach, partnerships make sense for bringing customers and end-consumers “trending ingredients that you trust.”

She adds that collaborations are increasing. “We’ve been doing team-ups, and now it’s becoming more frequent, because we are working together on a common category like immunity, stress or mood.”

Dominik Mattern, vice president of marketing at Kappa Bioscience, agrees that the company’s agreements to use ingredients from Lonza, such as its collagen, stems from trust and knowledge that the ingredient has been backed by evidence.

Patented combinations
Lemaire at Activ Inside notes that the food supplement industry differs greatly from the pharmaceutical industry in that companies invest in ingredients for which they are not the owners.

This paradigm can be helpful for small producers who don’t have to bear the entire burden for education on non-patented ingredients, such as astaxanthin.

Doron Safrai, CEO at Solabia-Algatech Nutrition, says: “We like competition. If we didn’t have it, it would be harder to educate the consumers.”

However, he notes that in an increasingly crowded marketplace, the trade-off is the need for differentiation.

For Lemaire, the lack of ownership over ingredients makes it a strong priority to find patents that can protect investments.

“For me, it makes more and more sense to look at industry partnerships to share the cost of two existing ingredients. If there is a real synergy – and it can be proved by in vitro in vivo studies – then you will have a patent, because that’s new.”

Sharing the costs
Lastly, suppliers are finding that entering new spaces or categories can be better accomplished in partnerships by sharing their know-how and infrastructure.

Morgane Maillard, marketing group manager at Lallemand Health Solutions, adds that it’s “not easy” for every player in the industry to consider adding a probiotic in a production plant.

“You also have to consider compatibility in terms of survival to check if the other ingredient won’t kill the probiotic.”

She says that the key is to find the synergy between the ingredients to improve the efficacy of one or another, like prebiotic with probiotic.

“The partnership with FrieslandCampina Ingredients was obvious because prebiotics are food for probiotics. There is a direct link for sure.”

Other industry moves joining forces, NutritionInsight spoke with IFF following the mega-merger with DuPont Nutrition and Biosciences on the Vitafoods Europe show floor.

By Missy Green


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