Canadian nutraceutical industry to benefit from $15m investment

By Clarisse Douaud

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Functional foods, Nutrition, Research, Research and development

Canada's AFMNet is supporting the scientific foundations of its
functional foods and nutraceuticals industry by committing itself
to a three-year, C$15m, research and development investment.

AFMNet (The Advanced Foods and Materials Network) announced it is plugging C$12m of federal funding into food and bio-material related research projects in the country - with another $3m to come from industry and private sources.

The national network of scientific researchers, professionals, industry partners and government agencies, says the funding will go to projects ranging from researching microbial agents for food safety, to studying nutrigenomics and biomarkers of chronic disease to understanding the impact of Canada's Natural Health Product Regulations.

"AFMNet is helping ensure Canada's pre-eminent role in foods and materials research,"​ said Dr Rickey Yada, AFMNet scientific director.

The funding will inevitably spill over into industry, as one of AFMNet's goals is to transfer technology to Canadian companies and agencies.

Functional foods and nutraceuticals form one of the three broad research areas AFMNet focuses on. The others relate to bio-materials, genetics and its social aspects such as law and ethics.

"The diversity of AFMNet research, which includes a focus on social as well as core sciences, means the network has the capacity to examine the ethical, legal and safety implications associated with new products and technologies,"​ said Tania Framst, network manager for the organization.

In turn, the group aims to shed light on industry issues. The Canadian functional foods and nutraceutical market, while important, lies in the shadow of the US' juggernaut market. Such funding could heighten the long term profile of the Canadian industry.

Retail sales in Canada have been on the up-swing. Sales of packaged fortified and functional foods rose from $319.5m in 2002 to $432m in 2005, according to market researcher Euromonitor.

AFMNet's work has a particularly Canadian focus.

The network bridges the work of its members to make new discoveries and solve existing problems of national relevance, says Framst. These problems include the social cost of chronic disease and how the industry can best offer products with bioactive components that are effective and commercially viable.

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