Vitafoods offers perfect opportunity to network

By Nicholas Robinson contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: European food safety, Food safety authority, Nutrition, Omega-3 fatty acid

More than 13,000 people are expected to visit the show
More than 13,000 people are expected to visit the show
Vitafoods is a chance to showcase new products, learn about market trends or network with potential suppliers and buyers, says Nicholas Robinson

Key points

The global nutraceutical market is expected to exceed £14bn by 2015, so it’s no wonder more than 13,000 people are expected to visit Geneva’s Palexpo on May 6–8 for Vitafoods.

A record number of exhibitors will also be at the show this year, each expecting to generate an average of 274,038 from visitors coming from 91 countries.

Despite the show’s strong numbers, Vitafoods portfolio director Chris Lee is not resting on his laurels, as he points out. “This year, for instance, we’ve introduced a brand new modular format for the conference to enable visitors to get more for their money,”​ he says.

The two-day event, which also has various ‘themed’ tours and break-out sessions, is going to be centred around a conference with 77 speakers.

Sixteen key topics will be explored by speakers from around the globe. Subjects covered will include the market for ageing consumers, bone and joint health, eye health, functional foods and consumer trends, and preventative health and immunity.

Following feedback from visitors and delegates from previous events, the modular conference approach will enable delegates to pick and choose which sessions they want to attend during the show.

Time is precious (Return to top)

“We have introduced the new modular format to make the conference more accessible and tailored to the needs of our delegates,” ​explains Lee. “We are aware that time is extremely precious so are aiming to provide a framework that attendees can easily adapt to to make the most of their time at the exhibition. There will be learning, debating and networking opportunities for all.”

To maximise the benefits of the show, Lee has secured Dr John Wilkinson, a consultant on the regulatory approval of natural products in the EU and the US, who will give one-hour regulation-themed tours of the exhibits.

“He is going to give an impartial view of the site, as he doesn't have clients here,"​ says Lee. “Wilkinson understands the latest regulatory standards and how they will apply to the latest ingredients, which will be useful to most visitors.”

Another tour visitors can book onto is on ‘nutrimarketing’, which will introduce them to suppliers developing novel products that respond to market developments. Themes to be explored on this tour will include mobility, energy and alertness and staying smart. Lee says: “Our goal is to equip visitors to Vitafoods Europe with the tools and information they need to create products that respond to real consumer demand.”

Nutraceuticals (Return to top)

Technology has had a huge impact on the nutraceutical sector, he says, as it has changed the way things are made, as well as making it possible to develop new products. “The way companies are targeting products has changed too,”​ he adds.

Since the European Food Safety Authority's Article 13.1 on generic health claims legislation was passed, the market has learned to operate within its constraints, says Lee. “Although, the market is still stifled a little with regulation, which is possibly slowing innovation beyond what it could be, it is getting back on track now.”

To highlight innovation in the sector, the New Products Zone will be back. “The show provides a hub for discussion and debate, enabling visitors to uncover the trends and scientific breakthroughs that are driving the future of the nutraceutical industry,”​ says Lee.

To further encourage visitor and exhibitor interaction, there will be a visitor networking event on day two of the show. “The networking event is entirely new this year,”​ says Lee, and will allow visitors to discuss common problems, new business opportunities and how they see the sector evolving.

Investment opportunity (Return to top)

Even before the show officially opens, the day before (May 5), an investment day planned for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will offer companies the opportunity to receive investment. “It’s an investment day for SMEs to offer companies the opportunity to receive investment.”​ Lee believes this will prove to be an interesting model for the industry.

Geneva will play host to hundreds of exhibits. Here’s a selection of some of those on show.

Companies offering ingredients designed to help consumers manage their weight are onto a winner. However, only glucomannan has European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) approval to be marketed as a weight loss ingredient, which leaves many fat-reducing and appetite-suppressing ingredient claims to be assessed.

Despite this, MI Innovation Labo has used macrobiotic and probiotic technology in the development of its weight management formula. The company claims to have used advanced Japanese knowledge to “ferment an effective solution to obesity”​ with its Optimea product.

New weight management (Return to top)

Indena will take a different approach to weight management when it shows Beanblock at Vitafoods, which is claimed to control how the body absorbs carbohydrates. Beanblock is an extract from the bean Phaseolus vulgaris​, which is rich in the enzyme amylase, which occurs naturally in the human mouth and begins the digestion process.

A third company targeting the weight management market is the Belgium company Kaneka, with its liquorice root-derived Glavonoid, which is claimed to fight visceral fat. According to Kaneka, the product increases the body's fat burning ability, as well as reducing fatty acid development.

Olygose will be showing its ‘Cravingz’ Gone’ natural satiety-boosting ingredient for functional beverages. According to the firm, the product withstands pasteurisation and prolonged storage in acidic conditions and "improves the taste profile of intense sweeteners".

Despite probiotics not making the EFSA’s list of approved health claims, the company Lesaffre Human Care is marketing its clinically-tested immune system strengthener, Probisis BS. According to the company, the patented probiotic strain of Bacillus subtilis​ strengthens the immune system and reduces the average number of days of illness. What's more, the bacteria in the product are spore-forming and are said to have a high survival rate in the gut, making them more effective.

Also using probiotics as a link to gut health is DuPont Nutrition and Health, which will showcase Howaru. This ingredient is claimed to maintain optimal gut microbiota during periods of gastrointestinal stress.

Healthy ageing (Return to top)

Joint health and health in the elderly is a fast-growing market, reflecting the ageing population in the western world and developed nations.

Rousselat will be targeting the elderly with its product Peptan Mobility Booster, which is claimed to provide beneficial effects on joint and bone health. It could also support muscle regeneration, the company claims. It is basing its claims on a recent clinical controlled study of 100 middle-aged patients with osteoarthritis, which found that a daily 8g dose of Peptan over six months reduced knee joint pain and improved joint functionality.

Bone density is often an issue in older and post-menopausal women, claims Gelita. The bone matrix is made from collagen, calcium and minerals. Gelita says its additive Fortibone increases calcium materialisation to help with the production of the bone matrix.

If joints and bones are not affected by old age, then muscles will be through either reduced activity or the muscle-wasting disease sarcopenia. Although Ecdynat is not claiming to prevent sarcopenia with its product PoliNat, it does claim to keep muscles healthy. PoliNat is made from a natural extract that claims to support lean mass without the side effects of anabolic drugs.

Eye health (Return to top)

One of the main conference themes at Vitafoods this year is eye care and the food division of the nutraceutical company Diana will exhibit its natural solution designed for eye care. The product is extracted from carrots. It is packed with vitamin A, as well as beta carotene and anthocyanins.

Pharma-food company Lonza will also be exhibiting DHAid, which is a vegetarian source of the essential long-chain omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The product is made from naturally occurring microalgae and can be made to various concentrations. Not only is DHA essential for the health and maintenance of the retina, but it is also essential in the support of brain development and heart health, the company claims.

Whether products are designed to supplement foods with additional vitamins and minerals or are providing a pill for the job, the dietary supplement sector is still strong.

Kappa Bioscience has developed its K2Vital vitamin K supplement to be used in manufactured foods and drinks. The company has said it will remain stable in formulations with calcium and other minerals and will also survive “harsh processing conditions”​. Kappa also claims K2Vital will increase shelf-life.

Antioxidant category (Return to top)

In the antioxidant category FruitFood will exhibit its dehydrated acerola powder. Acerola, a tropical cherry-like fruit high in vitamin C, is a powerful antioxidant and can be used as a dietary supplement, says FruitFood.

Bioriginal will exhibit Alask Omega easy-swallow mini capsules that provide a concentrated dose of essential fatty acids. They are 55% smaller than standard 1,000mg strength fish oil capsules and said to contain 30% more omega-3.

Also exhibiting omega-3, along with the addition of vitamin D, is AstaReal in the form of its Astaxin Active. The supplements are scientifically proven to maintain heart health, the company said.

Konark Herbals & Healthcare is marketing its green coffee extract, which is said to benefit the digestive system. The product, Fiber Coffee with Konark green coffee bean extract, is claimed to help reduce cholesterol levels and be a possible heart disease preventative.

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