Omya responds to fast-growing need for calcium and vitamin fortification

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11 Dec 2017 --- At the beginning of this year, global producer of calcium carbonate, Omya, began to address the needs of the fast-growing vegan market, by expanding their offering of their Calcipur brand for producers of plant-derived drinks based on soy, rice, oat, coconut or almond. As the demand for calcium and vitamin fortification grows due to evolving lifestyles trends, Omya’s platform offers an array of opportunities within the vegan space as well as several major consumer groups. Calcium deficiency is a growing concern and Omya is responding to those requests.

FoodIngredientsFirst caught up with Katja Reichenbach, Manager Market Development & Innovation Europe at Omya, who began by discussing the market trends the company is monitoring in relation to calcium and mineral fortification.

“We see clearly that consumers’ needs are changing these days and consumers are making more mindful choices throughout all age groups. They are looking more for added value products and we see clear opportunities in all natural, clean label, free-from products offering calcium fortification.”

“Clean label is a big trend in food ingredients and onto end consumers,” she continues, “With our natural calcium carbonate range, bundled under the brand Calcipur, we believe that we do meet this trend as it comes from a natural source and offers a very high purity level, which makes it as natural as calcium carbonate can be as a clean label solution.”

“Although calcium fortification is not new to the industry, what we see now is it is moving away from the traditional fortification such as tablets and powder formats, it goes much broader and is starting to reach everyday foods,” she explains. “You can now find calcium in cereals, beverages, bread and baked goods  bone health definitely is a hot topic for us right now. We are lucky enough to have a strong position there, not only are we a producer of calcium carbonate, we are also a distributing company Click to Enlarge and have synergistic functional natural ingredients in our portfolio (e.g. vitamins), to offer holistic solutions for e.g. bone health concepts to our customers,” says Reichenbach.

“The nutraceutical market is still huge and positively growing for sure – this is a market that we have solutions for. But we are seeing this need for bone health supplementation and concepts moving across into dairy applications, yogurt and non-dairy drinks, so it’s much more than just a tablet every day but about consuming those extra minerals throughout the day and throughout various meals.”

“There is a much bigger need for functional foods,” she adds.

Dairy products with added calcium are rather new to Europe, according to Reichenbach. In regions like Asia, there is a much higher deficiency in calcium due to a generally lower dairy consumption.

“So where dairy products are generally enrichened with calcium in Asia, we also see this trend moving along to include minerals like calcium as well as vitamins, now in Europe,” she notes.  “Furthermore Europe is already a follower of the US, they are much more developed in terms of foods which are enriched with vitamins and calcium, so I think Europe is on a good path to follow other regions. The US is certainly a front-runner here when it comes to the addition of calcium to a variety of foods.”

“The vegan and non-dairy market in the next 10-15 years will develop enormously, and this market is already exploding here in Europe. “When it comes to non-dairy products, they are naturally low in calcium, so beverages which are based on almonds, soy or rice, require some extra calcium, to be more nutritionally balanced,” she states, “So we see a great potential for not only calcium but for our vitamins as well.”  

Reichenbach also discussed a widespread need for calcium in all age groups: “Infants, teenagers, young women, women in their menopause and also elderly people can benefit from calcium fortification,” she says. “One of the main groups that require more calcium in their diets is women over the age of 40, who are preparing for the menopause. When you look at scientific studies, you can see that osteoporosis is a common concern and the level of dependency is really increasing, and in particular in this kind of age group.”

For Omya, women aged 40 plus are seen as an important target group. “But nevertheless, there is a lot to do with osteoporosis prevention, we target women much younger so at 20 and 30 to take care of their calcium supplementation at this age as they can really prevent it affecting their lives as they get older,” notes Reichenbach. It’s not only about osteoporosis treatment but also about prevention at a much younger age.

According to Reichenbach, there are a number of other factors driving concern about calcium and bone health. “People’s lifestyles are changing,” she confirms. “There is a higher demand for minerals in the body, we work a lot so we have less time to do activities, and spend more time indoors. We are also lacking vitamin D in the body - it’s not just about calcium, also the lack of vitamin D plays a decisive role  why osteoporosis is such a concern these days.”

Are there any further plans to develop in this area of calcium and vitamin D? “Our target is to offer single ingredients but also tailored solutions based on calcium and/or vitamins. Long term, we want to offer ready to use concepts, based on those vitamins and minerals, and that is why we are already working on the second generation of minerals which are based on calcium and they are the perfect carrier ingredients to transport or to load with our active ingredients like our vitamins and so on,” she states. This enables us really to come up with tailor-made solutions for bone health but also for other target groups.Our focus is – to develop our own calcium carbonate platforms with the second generation of structured minerals, and also to come up with more tailor-made concepts combined with our ingredients from our distribution portfolio,” Reichenbach finalizes.

You can view a video interview with Reichenbach from FiE in Frankfurt on FoodIngredientsFirst's sister website NutritionInsight here

By Elizabeth Green

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