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Gummies, Crystals and Power Bars. The next generation of fortified foods

5 min read
AUTHOR: Elisa Roche
Coloured tablets

Almost half of all shoppers in Europe, America and Asia now actively seek out products that contain added nutritional benefits to help them sleep better, concentrate better or just feel better.

But things have come a long way since adding vitamins to bread, cereal or dairy products, with incredible advances making improved health as easy as tipping specially formulated crystals onto the tongue or swigging a shake with slow release nutrients locked inside.

Meanwhile with the ever growing popularity of e-gaming, younger consumers are looking for better, deeper sleep followed by natural focus and alertness from the minute they wake up.

We spoke to experts at global nutrition company Glanbia Nutritionals to find out how they are shaping the scene.

What does the future hold for specialised ingredients?

“We are currently working on a better tasting Ashwagandha for a gummy application. It is a fantastic nootropic that can aid sleep and relaxation but in its natural state it is a little bitter and slightly earthy,” Alice Wilkinson, Senior Director of Nutritional Premix R&D

“As an engineer I’m interested in improving products for the sports nutrition arena. Lots of people are going back to the gym but many sports drinks and supplements frankly taste bad. We’re working hard to better encapsulate flavours and even on a sustained release type of coating to make the actives last longer during and after people’s workouts,” Gary Wada, Director of Process and Technical Operations.

Glanbia’s USP? Collaboration.

All of our products are custom made and they’re all different. Almost everything we do is bespoke. We work fast, we are nimble and flexible and we are a great partner when producers are going around in circles trying to come up with solutions for the dream product they can envisage. Most of our competition goes out into the marketplace and buys vitamins and minerals and blends them together and we can too. But we also have the technology to encapsulate powerful ingredients and make them palatable and attractive. We have a sister company that specialises in flavours and flavour masking who can help us make any consumer product more pleasant. And we have spray drying capabilities so that we can take vitamins that are fat soluble oils and make them more stable. We have all of these tools as well as a really strong network of suppliers around the world that helps us to weather most storms. And the real USP? We are authentic. Sometimes we’ll brainstorm among ourselves and find that maybe we don’t have the solution. But we’re not afraid to tell our customers where somebody else might be able to help them better. It’s that attitude of collaboration over competition that brands now want to work with.

We manage premix projects from start to finish, turning the complexities into simple solutions so your product can get to market faster. Our efficient and state-of-the-art premix production facility in Germany utilises precision blending with equipment sized perfectly to achieve high quality, homogeneous blends. Whatever stage of product development, for whatever application, we can help build the perfect formulation.

Natalie Munz, Product Strategy Manager – Premix

What’s exciting to you, as a scientist?

“On a personal level, for me, it’s really about being able to supply ingredients that fill the gap on missing nutrients, specifically for vulnerable populations like children. Some of the ingredients that children tend to not consume enough of are ones that are notoriously difficult to work with. Like Choline, a nutrient that is so important for brain development, healthy brain tissue and growth. Natural sources are very limited. Basically, the number one source is egg yolk, then heavy meat products like offal that children rarely want to eat. If you wanted to add it to a regular vitamin tablet or to a gummy, it would typically degrade very quickly and give the product a very short shelf life. But we’ve found a way to make Choline stable, so it can be added at an effective dose giving us a great outcome for children.

I can always get up and go to work feeling good when we’re helping provide solutions that make a real difference,” Alice Wilkinson, Senior Director of Nutritional Premix R&D.

Why should people eat fortified foods or take supplements? The nutrient gap alarm bell.

Unfortunately most people don’t get all the nutrients they need from their modern diet. If you’re very well prepared and are lucky enough or wealthy enough to have access to very fresh food all the time, then maybe. But really, who is preparing all of their own meals every day? We’re on-the-go, and we’re busy, and we’re filling in meals with other other things that are maybe not as nutrient dense as they should be. We have found that even people who think they are being super healthy may generally not be meeting all of their needs.

We did a small study a few years ago with a dietitian who works in our team who is a keen home cook who is very dedicated to raising his three daughters and meal prepping from scratch. He did a two week food log on what his family was eating and we ran them through the nutrient programmes in the lab and figured out what nutrients they were short on and it was eye opening. There were very large nutrient gaps.

We can confidently tell almost anyone that a daily, well-designed Daily Nutrient is not a bad idea.

As told to Elisa Roche by Alice Wilkinson, Senior Director of Nutritional Premix R&D,

Gary Wada, Director of Process and Technical Operations and Natalie Munz, Product Strategy Manager – Premix, Glanbia.