The emulsions and powders, branded PhytoFit and reportedly suitable for all functional foods, could cause a major stir in nutrition circles, with discussions reportedly continuing with two major food conglomerates Speaking exclusively to NutraIngredients.com, CRS' Roger Duffield said: "This is not an extraction process but a shearing system that during the process opens and releases membrane structures containing the phytonutrients. These are released in an active, stable and bioavailable form." "The materials we process are any vegetal materials but especially whole fruits, vegetables, legumes, cereals and plant materials such as fresh tea leaves. "From the tomato aspect, the process eliminates industrial tomato waste produced from peel, seed and membrane and efficiently converts the whole tomato into emulsions which can be evaporated into pastes and then formulated as an ingredient into sauces and ketchup," he added. Indeed, according to a technical paper provided to NutraIngredients.com: "The processing method ruptures cellular components and structures at the microscopic level, thereby releasing antioxidant and other desirable compounds with an efficiency not previously reported. "This is demonstrated most dramatically in tomato and red grapefruit carotenoids where substantial amounts of phytoenes and phytofluenes are released in the process." A small but growing number of studies indicate that these compounds may play an important role in nutrition and may be a necessary part of a greater synergy between nutrients. A 2001 report in the Journal of Nutrition claimed to be the first to report that phytofluene could be beneficial against prostate cancer (Vol. 131, pp. 3303-3306). This is coupled with claims from CRS that the tomato emulsions and powders obtained using their proprietary process is unusually rich in cis-lycopene. Fresh tomatoes contain lycopene exclusively in the trans-form, while processing and/or cooking of the fruit produces small amounts of the cis-form. A recent study by researchers at the US Department of Agriculture, led by Steven Scwartz, reported that absorption of cis-lycopene is 2.5 times higher than the all-trans-form of the carotenoid, highlights the potential interest in this source of the nutrient (J. Agric. Food Chem. Vol. 55, pp. 1597-1603). "PhytoFit products will be aggressive competitors in the market because their gel encapsulated powders present high concentrations of a bioavailable group of lycopene isomers never before available," state CRS in the technical paper. The lycopene market is already well established with growth rates forecast at over 100 per cent by Frost and Sullivan, albeit from a low base of around €27m ($34m) in 2003. However, doubts have been raised about the benefits of the carotenoid after the FDA reported finding no credible evidence supporting lycopene intake and a reduced risk of prostate, lung, colorectal, gastric, breast, ovarian, endometrial, or pancreatic cancer. The FDA has approved a claim on the role of tomatoes in reducing the risk of prostate, gastric, ovarian and pancreatic cancers, indicating that the other compounds found in the whole fruit may be conferring benefits, possibly in synergy with lycopene. Duffield said that the emulsions and powders are not yet available commercially, but sample powders are available for a variety of sources including tomato peels, Rio Red grapefruit skins, pith and seeds, Washington Navel orange skins and pith, Hayden mango produced from skins and Indian green leaf tea produced from fresh tea leaves "The first trial manufacturing run for tomato powder is currently being undertaken into vegetarian soft gel capsules and labelled bottled product will be available next month," he added. Due to concerns over intellectual property Duffield was unwilling to provide further information about the process, stressing instead the opportunity for the food industry to incorporate the emulsions and powders into their products. "Processing systems will not be sold to a third party but will be licensed in specific collaboration agreement. Because of the dangers of reverse engineering the system, we have trademarked emulsions and powders with the PhytoFit name," he said. "This we believe will provide the protection we seek and furthermore all products will be required to show this trademark name." Questions and/or concerns about how much these emulsions and powders will cost were swept away by Duffield. "The products will be very affordable," he said. "And will be at least half the price of other products out there."