Like most superfruits, the lingonberry has elevated levels of phytonutrients such as flavonoids and phenolic acids. It is being marketed on its heart health, immunity and anti-ageing benefitsas well as the cranberry-dominated urinary tract infection (UTI) area.
The food supplements industry will be the first target on both sides of the Atlantic, with functional foods and beverages potential to be explored at some later date along with China, the rest of Asia and latin America.
Chr Hansen invited NutraIngredients.com to its phytonutrients facility on the outskirts of Montpellier, France, to exclusively announce lingonberry’s launch ahead of the Supply Side West trade show in Las Vegas next week.
It said it had conducted the world’s first in vivo trial on lingonberry that yielded positive antioxidant benefits in a two-month trial with albino Wistar rats. The study would be available at the beginning of November and would be submitted to a peer-review journal.
“The results of the study are very encouraging but we had made the commercial decision to bring this extract to market because the compositional make-up was so strong,” vice president of commercial development in the colour division, Lionel Schmitt said.
“We have had preliminary discussion with international food supplements makers which we expect to develop in the next month at trade shows,” Schmitt said. “So far there has been an excellent reception and we hope human intervention trials may also be performed with some of our clients.”
The Danish supplier’s testing revealed lingonberry extract contained five times the level of type-A procyanidins as cranberry as well as being high in resveratrol and other polyphenols.
Because of type-A procyanidins’ “anti-adhesion activity against bacteria” the spray-coated extract would employ UTI and immunity claims if they were approved by the European Commission, said technical industry manager of dietary supplements in the color division, Celine Aubert.
“The exceptional richness of NutriPhy Lingonberry polyphenols places this berry among the most powerful antioxidant ingredients offered in the marketplace,” Aubert said.
Wild harvesting costs meant the ingredient was expected to sell at a 20 per cent premium over the company’s cranberry extract.
Hansen said it had developed a fully traceable, network of growers to ensure a steady supply that will be processed in its Italian plant.
The launch of lingonberry forms part of the company’s five-year phytonutrient strategy to maintain double digit growth until 2012.
Lingonberry is part of Chr Hansen’s NutriPhy range that includes cranberry, bilberry, blackberry, blackcurrent, lutein and lycopene.
Chr Hansen has been active in fruit extracts for about 20 years when it launched a grape extract. Only in the past few years has it begun to shout about its extracts, creating the NutriPhy umbrella brand in 2007 to streamline and build communications around its phyto offerings.
The lingonberry is commonly consumed in Nordic countries in the format of a juice or a food, but is relatively unheard of outside of Scandinavia. Because of this history of use, the ingredient does not require Novel Foods approval, Schmitt said.