Biodar's new line of microencapsulated vitamins and minerals for kids' chewable applications could help improve diets and even save food makers money, writes Anthony Fletcher.
Biodar marketing director Udi Alroy says that the range, Chew&Eat, includes a number of vitamins. But there is also growing interest in taste masking the metallic tang of minerals.
"On a global basis, mineral fortification has not been a priority in kid's food," he told FoodNavigator-USA.com.
"But with hundreds of articles about dietary deficiency and parents increasingly concerned about nutrition, we are seeing more and more interest in this from food manufacturers."
The reason is that food companies are increasingly aware that consumers now demand more nutritionally beneficial products. Taste however is often a barrier of entrance into this market.
Supplement and confectionary manufacturers face severe difficulties in developing chewable tablets, candies and gums enriched with minerals due to the metallic taste of the nutrients.
And as Alroy points out, there is no point in launching a mineral-fortified chewing gum for kids if it tastes horrible. Since children are less willing than adults to compromise on taste and mouth feel if the product is good for them, they're more likely to only buy the product once if the taste doesn't appeal.
This could cost companies millions of dollars in wasted marketing. It is therefore a real challenge to develop attractive fortified products.
But by microencapsulating the mineral or vitamin in a children friendly and tasty application such as chewing gum, children will be able to get their daily-recommended intake of minerals and vitamins. Microcapsules are tiny particles that contain an active agent or core material surrounded by a shell or coating. This seals it off from its surroundings, opening the door to new possibilities in product development.
This marks an interesting new marketing strategy that food companies are slowly cottoning onto.
In addition, taste masking through encapsulation can help producers to reduce the high sugar content used to mask the taste of minerals in their products. "Most gummy bear supplements contain a high dosage of sugar to avoid the taste of the nutrients," said Ulroy.
"Consumer concern about high sugar consumption amongst children encouraged us to develop Chew&Eat without adding any sugar."
The end result is an encapsulated ingredient with impressive taste masking properties that allows children to receive vitamins and minerals in a pleasant tasting manner and food makers to reduce the amount of sugar they use. The microencapsulation prevents ingredient cross-interactions and oxidation, and can withstand tough environments.
"Chewing is one of the hardest applications in which to microencapsulate," said Ulroy. "But no matter how much chewing kids do, they wont taste the metallic taste of minerals."
The launch of the ingredient range, Chew&Eat, is being timed to coincide with this week's IFT convention in New Orleans and underlines the growing use of microencapsulation technology within the food ingredients sector.
Chew&Eat is available as single ingredients, or in a sugar-free drum-to-hopper premix. It can be used in a variety of delivery systems: gums, chewables, lozenges and functional foods.
Samples of Chew&Eat chewable multi-vitamin and mineral supplements will be available at the LycoRed/Biodar booth at the IFT show this week in New Orleans.
Demand for microencapsulation within the ingredients industry has grown significantly in recent years. US suppliers of microencapsulation products and services now generate revenues over $150 million a year, and new solutions, such as Biodar's, are continually hitting the market.