Key Interview: Fortified Foods Are the Way Forward for Senior and Alternative Diets

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08 May 2017 --- With consumers increasingly exploring different dietary changes to benefit their health, there is a growing window of opportunity for companies to develop fortified foods to fit a wide range of lifestyles, according to Klaus Brockhausen, Sales Director at Dr. Paul Lohmann. Founded in 1886, Dr. Paul Lohmann specializes in the manufacture of high-quality mineral salts. Its current portfolio features over 400 different salts, including a range of mineral bisglycinates. NutritionInsight spoke to Brockhausen about opportunities in the aging and sports nutrition segments as well as the company’s prospects. 

Market Opportunities 
Speaking of the trend toward gluten-free, vegan and flexitarian diets, Brockhausen points out that these ways of living are creating opportunities for companies to target nutrient deficiencies. Although generally speaking a varied diet provides sufficient nutrients, “sooner or later, if parts of the population become vegan, there will be a lack of [certain] nutrients across the board. On the one hand, you can [remedy this] with tablets or food supplements, but we think that the option to fortify products with zinc, iron and other vitamins is also a good way to go.”

Dr. Paul Lohmann offers mineral salts that fit in with applications, trends and needs within the food industry, Brockhausen says. Currently, the company has a new group of mineral salts: bisglycinates - its amino acid stabilized minerals.

“These are not yet well known in all European markets but are already [widely] used in the US. We are now the first European quality producer of this range of mineral bisglycinates,” Brockhausen says. The range includes iron and zinc bisglycinates – these can be used to fortify foods like dairy-based products, bakery products and beverages. Additionally, manganese, magnesium, copper and calcium bisglycinates are permitted for the use in food supplements. 

Sports Nutrition
Dr. Paul Lohmann produces more than 40 different magnesium salts, from bisglycinates and different citrates, to carbonate and oxides. These mineral salts differ in regards to solubility, mineral content and physical appearance. Magnesium is an element of particular interest to the sports nutrition sector as there are some highly desirable health claims associated with it, and consumers quickly notice the benefits of taking magnesium to reduce muscle pains after and during sports.

The highly soluble magnesium salts are quickly available to the body, Brockhausen says, adding that e.g. these magnesium bisglycinates can benefit the sports nutrition sector. For sport beverages, minerals like magnesium carbonate can be used as a buffering agent and provide a magnesium fortification at the same time.

“Depending on the application you can also add either a good soluble magnesium salt or you can work with a non-soluble magnesium salt like magnesium oxide,” Brockhausen says.

The supplement industry is seeing not just the need for standard tablets or capsules, but also an increased interest in gels and shots, instant beverage powders and different kinds of bars in combination with protein enrichments products, he adds.

Gummies are also becoming increasingly popular; not just ones with added vitamins, but also with iron or other minerals. According to company data, gummy supplement launches in North America increased from around 950 in 2013 to around 1500 in 2015, while gummy launches in West Europe increased from around 1050 in 2013 to around 1450 in 2015.

Fruit gums are also becoming increasingly popular, not just ones with added vitamins, but also with iron or other minerals. “Fruit gums are an application form that many consumers prefer in comparison to tablet or capsule forms. This is a fairly new concept that we are closely monitoring and we want to be able to offer our consumers a wide range of concepts for their own product development.”

Healthy Aging Challenges
Besides sports nutrition, the healthy aging sector is also of particular importance to the supplement industry. Minerals of particular interest are those that boost metabolism claims for healthy aging products.

“Elderly people do not eat as much as younger people and so they also run the risk of having certain nutrient deficiencies,” Brockhausen says, adding that the addition of minerals can be effective in the diets of elderly people.

“The main application forms here are in food supplements. We do not see general food for seniors; sometimes you see products that are rich in calcium, referring to bone health concepts. This is perhaps the only thing that elderly consumers are aware of when it comes to front-of-pack claims. If they need additional nutrients, they usually get through food supplements,” Brockhausen says.

Consumer awareness is not as high among elderly consumers as, for example, younger millennials, because they are not exposed to information in the same way. A lack of knowledge and the fact that older people do not want to think of themselves as elderly make it challenging for companies to market their products for this consumer group.

“It can be challenging in terms of foods, but older people are more likely to buy supplements, like magnesium, which is quite often needed for cramps, etc,” Brockhausen says.

A Global View
“Dr. Paul Lohmann is a middle-sized German company, but we are active globally. We have a growing business in Europe – In Western Europe, we are seeing a growing interest in iron and zinc. In third world countries, these deficiencies are much more obvious, but it is one area that we want to tap into for Western Europe. We also work with international organizations such as UNICEF and GAIN. These organizations will also try to work on these deficiencies and we have projects that support this, to find out which source is bioavailable, where costs are not too high, so it’s about finding the right options for these application areas,” Brockhausen says. Additionally, the company is trying to gain more knowledge on how food fortification is accomplished in different regions of the world. 

The company’s plans new product groups. “The focus will be on high value mineral products, with a focus on pharmaceutical applications,” Brockhausen concludes.

by Elizabeth Green and Lucy Gunn

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