While the European market for functional foods remains smaller than many people think, it continues to outperform the food and drinks market as a whole, and bioactive plant extracts are key to its growth.
One company keen to capitalise on this trend is Lallemand Health Ingredients, which will woo punters with its new PACran whole cranberry powder. The powder, which is designed for use in dietary supplements, was the subject of a recent 90-day clinical trial of women suffering from recurrent urinary tract infections. Urine samples from the women taking a daily dose of PACran demonstrated a significant reduction in E. coli bacteria, says the company.
"This is the first and only clinically supported and proanthocyanidin (PAC) standardised cranberry powder. It not only guarantees the amount of active compound responsible for the prevention of urinary tract infections but is clinically effective in a low dose."
Cranberry giant Ocean Spray will also be showcasing its extensive range of cranberry ingredients.
Another firm hoping to make a splash at this year's show is Berkem, which will be launching Powergrape: a grape extract standardised in polyphenols and flavanols and designed for use in dietary supplements, functional foods and drinks.
Results of a recent clinical trial on sportsmen revealed that those taking Powergrape supplements showed a significant increase of the lipophile antioxidant capacity, vitamin C and ubiquinone, claims the company. A second clinical study is now underway to assess Powergrape's powers to boost performance and speed up recovery.
S Black is also hoping to cash in on the superfoods craze with the European launch of a brand new range of clean-label fruit and vegetable blends from US firm VDF FutureCeuticals boasting consistently high ORAC (oxygen radical absorption capacity) levels and fully intact whole fruit and vegetable phytochemicals from concentrated freeze dried whole powders.
Using a unique proprietary system, FutureCeuticals has standardised its products to control the amounts of bioavailable anthocyanins, polyphenols and phytochemicals to create extracts of "unmatched purity and antioxidant potency", claims the company,
The range, which contains extracts of blueberries, cranberries, pomegranates, strawberries and grapes, is suitable for beverages, dairy, cereals, cereal bars and fortified meal replacement bars promoting women's health, cognitive function, eye health and healthy immune systems.
Other big guns in plant bioactives will also be out in force at Vitafoods, including Biocon, which is showcasing a range of botanical extracts; AlgaeCal International, which is highlighting its pure plant sourced calcium from marine algae; and DSM Nutritional Products, which will be promoting a range of products including purified green tea and olive juice extracts.
Indena will be showcasing its bilberry, olive, ginseng, grape, green tea and soy extracts, and Sabinsa will be highlighting its selenium-enriched garlic product GarliSelect - manufactured using a patent-pending soil-less culture process.
Heart health is also top of the priority list for many exhibitors, including Cognis, which is showcasing its Vegapure brand of plant sterols and plant sterol esters; and ADM, which is promoting its CardioAid plant sterols and sterol esters, natural source d-alpha vitamin E and soya isoflavones.
Natraceutical Group, meanwhile, is hoping to cause a stir with its CocoanOX range of polyphenol-rich cocoa powders and extracts - the result of a patented process that prevents polymerisation and degradation.
Clinical studies have demonstrated that CocoanOX is much more effective than tea polyphenols and slightly better than vitamin C at preventing damage caused by oxidative stress, claims the company.