60-second interview: Margaret Gomes, marketing director, NP Nutra

What botanicals are trending in food & beverage? From cat’s claw and turmeric to ashwaganda

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

What botanicals are trending? From cat’s claw and turmeric to ashwaganda
With brands such as Rebbl, GT’s Kombucha, Califia Farms and Temple Turmeric bringing Ayurvedic herbs and other on-trend ingredients out of the supplements aisle into the grocery aisles, demand for botanicals is growing from food and beverage formulators. But which ‘super herbs’ are gaining traction, and what should buyers look out for?

To find out, FoodNavigator-USA caught up with Margaret Gomes, marketing director at nutraceutical ingredients specialist NP Nutra​, which originally focused its attention on the dietary supplements market but is increasingly targeting food and beverage companies as these ingredients move into the mainstream.

What botanicals are trending right now?

We’re seeing growing interest in all things Ayurvedic, particularly those that are considered adaptogens such as ashwaganda​ ​and cat’s claw ​plus anti-inflammatories such as turmeric, ​and we’re working on a number of proprietary blends. Often customers say I want an antioxidant blend, or an anti-inflammatory blend, or they ask for things that are not yet in our portfolio, and we’ll go out and see if we can source them.

Baobab is one of our most popular ingredients now.

How informed are your customers about some of these ingredients?

They are increasingly informed, and when they come to us they have done their homework, and they know what they want to achieve for a new product. We’re not having to sell the benefits to them.

What kind of food/beverage companies are interested in Ayurveda?

It’s not just the niche, natural foods companies. It’s big brands as well.

Where are the growth opportunities from an applications perspective?

There’s a wide range of opportunities, but the growth is typically in products that are healthy and convenient: beverages, snacks, high-fiber, lower sugar products.​                            

What should buyers look out for when sourcing these kinds of ingredients?

If you’re buying any ingredient you should know where it is coming from, how it was processed, and whether there is the possibility of contamination, either where it was grown or in a farm close to where it was grown. You have to do your due diligence, rather than just taking the supplier’s word for it from certificates of origin (COO) and certificates of analysis (COA). We audit the facilities of all our suppliers and we check their testing and conduct our own onsite and third party testing of samples they send us. It takes us months to approve a supplier.

We’re in the process of becoming GFSI certified, which means all our suppliers must be as well, which creates a certain standard.

Are there certain ingredients where buyers should be particularly careful?

The market has had issues with moringa, hemp and pea protein in recent years, where for example they were claimed to be organic, but when we checked, they weren’t.

Are all ingredients labeled organic actually organic?

No, and this is a problem in this industry. While there’s no analytical test for organic ​[it’s a paper trail], you can test for things like​ [synthetic] pesticide residues and that will often tell you that something isn’t organic. It could be a case of cross-field contamination, but it could be that it was not grown organically in the first place.

Unfortunately, too many times we have ordered samples from suppliers claiming their products are non-GMO, organic, and pesticide-free and had them re-tested, only to find that they were not. This is why our TTT (trace, test, trust) process works.

We’ve recently added an organic papaya juice powder to our portfolio; papaya is one of those ingredients where it’s very difficult to find organic and certified non-GMO. Cat’s claw is also a recent addition.

Some recent additions to NP Nutra's portfolio include:

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