The concept was conceived in 2009 at a kitchen counter, CEO and co-founder of Entring LLC Helena Cowley told NutraIngredients-USA. “We developed the product because we saw a market need,” she said. “There’s millions of people in the US being recommended a low-oxalate diet, to support kidney and urinary tract health.”
The co-founders recognized that it was “difficult to be on a diet, period,” and wanted to come up with a nutritional ingredient that can regulate the amount of oxalate one consumes (the enzyme in Nephure degrades oxylate). “A low-oxalate diet in particular is difficult [to follow] because oxalate is not on any ingredient label, and there’s no food that’s been manufactured to be low oxalate,” she said.
Whole grains, beans, soy, and nuts can contain oxalate, and so do green vegetables, Cowley said. Typically, the demographic recommended a low-oxalate diet are men, ages 35 to 40, who are prone to kidney stones, one of the effects of having too much oxalate.
Going direct-to-consumer with powders
The enzyme is manufactured in Europe, using a proprietary fermentation process that creates something identical to the compound found in blue algae, purified, then spray dried. Part of Entring LLC’s initial strategy is to sell the powdered oxalate decarboxylase powdered enzyme direct to consumers, to mix in while cooking, baking, and so forth.
During the second quarter of 2017, the company is going through steps for self-affirmed GRAS. "Also, when we prepared the dossier, we did so with a FDA notification in mind," Cowley added. Because Nephure won't be sold as a dietary supplement, Cowley said they are not required to submit a New Dietary Ingredient (NDI) notification. The first powder ingredient is set to launch July 2017.
“The B2B opportunity we recognize has a longer selling cycle, so for our first launch we’re offering it directly to consumers through health stores, strategic partnerships, and our own online store,” Cowley said.
In addition to the population prone to kidney stones, Cowley said the supplement may benefit those who need higher calcium intake.
“Oxalate binds very strongly to calcium in your food [making it] harder for the body to absorb calcium,” Cowley said. “So people who need to absorb more calcium from their foods may benefit from lower oxalate, as it frees up more calcium.”
Grand plan: Working with food manufacturers
As the startup grows, Entring LLC wants to work with food manufacturing companies so that the enzyme can be incorporated during processing to reduce the final oxalate count in the finished product. “We can offer the ingredient to food and beverage manufacturers to make a low-oxalate food,” Cowley said.
She argued that the using the product in food and beverages falls in line with the ‘free-from’ trend, and brands can market low oxalate content or free-from oxalate. “It’s part of the opportunity we’re looking at,” Cowley said.