Ingredients claiming to improve eye health will gradually shift from the supplements market to the functional foods arena, the UK boss of ingredients firm LycoRed has predicted.
"Lutein is established in supplements, but relatively new to the food industry," said LycoRed Europe boss David Robertson. "Lutein has long been recognised as helping to reduce the risk of age-related mascular degeneration, the leading cause of loss of vision among people over 50 years of age. We are producing increasingly user friendly forms of these ingredients that could really be used in any product."
While functional foods were currently confined to categories such as dairy, spreads, juices, cereals and water, technological innovation meant that it was now possible to include active ingredients in a far wider range of products, said Robertson. "The only limit is the imagination."
The health benefits of tomatoes were becoming better understood, with the US Food and Drug Administration recently ruling that there was sufficient evidence to suggest that tomato-based products may reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer, he added.
"Companies are also talking about 'powerful antioxidants' and 'mopping up free radicals' in products that naturally contain tomatoes, such as baked beans, so this terminology is at least well recognised, if not completely understood," he said.
"We are working with several UK manufacturers looking at enriching their products with lycopene in the next year. Our extract could work in a range of savoury foods from soups and pizzas."
Robertson added that more and more manufacturers were outsourcing their R&D function in this area to suppliers.
Contact: LycoRed, Tel: 01634 297 171