National Starch pinpoints projects for health innovation

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: National starch, Nutrition

Cleaner labels, health claims and satiety are amongst the projects
in the pipeline at ingredients giant National Starch Food
Innovation, which will be looking for food firms to partner with in
its quest to bring new products to market.

Key to the company's product development strategy are ingredients that would allow manufacturers to promote their products as value-added, National Starch told FoodNavigator-USA on a recent visit to the firm's headquarters in Bridgewater, New Jersey.

"We're looking at those types of areas where there are ingredients constraints and where we can bring functionality to formulations,"​ said the firm's marketing manager Joseph Lombardi.

Areas of potential innovation include gluten-free starch as well as protein ingredients.

"These are different things closely related to our core that it makes sense to work on,"​ said the company's vice president and general manager Tony DeLio.

"We're looking at new ingredients for texture systems, nutrition, digestion, energy- even ingredients with nutraceutical functions such as fiber products with cholesterol or gut health benefits. We're not ruling anything out,"​ he said.

National starch, which focuses on resistant starch that helps food manufacturers add fiber to their products, is positioning itself ahead of a growing trend towards natural, organic and wholesome foods.

"Products are increasingly being positioned as natural or organic, and consumers buy these because they perceive them to be healthier,"​ said Lombardi.

"This category is still only around 2-3 percent of the total food market, but it's just starting to expand, we're at the cusp of opportunity,"​ he said.

"Large retailers are starting to take commitments into having organic lines, and manufacturers will respond to that demand by reformulating products. When this happens they will all need functional ingredients in order to make that transition- that's the need we're trying to satisfy."

Another key area National Starch is looking into is satiety.

With up to 40 percent of the US population reporting it is on a diet, hunger management remains an area of relatively untapped potential.

But satiety continues to be extremely difficult to measure as it depends largely on consumer perception, something that has proven an obstacle in the past.

And although National Starch has no immediate plans to launch satiety ingredients, it says it is currently conducting research into the area.

"If this can be achieved it will be the Holy Grail of nutrition. And I think it will be achieved,"​ said DeLio, adding that there is "certainly a role for carbohydrate delivery systems to play here."

According to Delio, this is something that National Starch will achieve through a strong partnership with a food firm.

"We want to make sure we have a partner who is very interested in working with us on this. Because the science is still under development, the first step is to understand what has been tried, what has worked and what hasn't worked,"​ he said.

"And once the technology has been developed, we need to bring it to market. It's difficult to do this in isolation, it has to be done with an eye to how it can be positioned in the market,"​ he added.

"You'll see us making a lot more partnerships in the future."

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