Consumers increasingly perceive kosher and halal food as safer

New product development is being driven by consumer demands that are seeing kosher and halal foods being bought by a wider range of consumers. In a move that goes beyond religious requirements, buyers are increasingly concerned by fears about mad cow disease as one example. Food producers say that consumers see kosher and halal products as safer, healthier and better for them.

Mintel, a leading global supplier of consumer, product and media intelligence, found some time ago that kosher food was garnering major attention from a new crop of consumers who do not follow traditional Jewish dietary laws. They felt that kosher products held a higher mark of safety and health than

non-kosher items.

Due to clear labelling practices of kosher food, consumers who are vegetarian, food sensitive or even allergic to certain ingredients are relying on this market to monitor their diets.

Marcia Mogelonsky, senior research analyst for Mintel, says: “Food allergies and sensitivities affect some 28percent of Americans and kosher foods’ clear labelling makes it easy for consumers to find dairy-free products as well as those that are meat free.”

The Datamonitor report Seeking Beauty Through Nutrition assesses the new profit opportunities for food producers by targeting consumers supplementing diets for ‘beauty from within’. It says the growth in consumers’ desire for health and beauty is interlinked: both are strongly associated with food and supplement consumption. People, especially middle-aged female consumers, but a wider selection of the population as a whole as well, want products that will actively maximise their attractiveness.

Consumers are taking an increasingly broad view of what affects their looks and what they can do to change or enhance them. This can be seen in the fact that consumers are more willing to look beyond traditional forms of beauty personal care products for results.

Datamonitor found that sales of oral beauty supplements to consumers accelerated at a high rate between 2000 and 2005 with an average annual growth rate of 17percent across Europe and the US. Future growth will remain strong at 9percent to 2010 as more consumers become convinced of the benefits of seeking beauty through nutrition.

Apparently, French consumers spend the most per head on oral beauty supplements due to a traditionally stronger acceptance of the ‘beauty from within concept’ in France. The US is the next most important marketplace, driven by consumers’ increasing willingness to supplement poor dietary habits and find quick fix health solutions.

Around the producers

Udi Alroy, marketing director at LycoRed, says: “In order to be certified as halal or kosher, a food must not contain any ingredients which are themselves prohibited. Animal ingredients must all be derived from permitted species that have been fed permitted ingredients and slaughtered according to the precise requirements of the respective standards. In addition, the manufacturer’s operating procedures must insure that halal or kosher ingredients do not come into contact, not only with non-halal or non-kosher ingredients, but that they don’t even come into contact with equipment that has been in contact with them.”

LycoRed supplies nutritional ingredients to the dietary supplement and functional food industries. It has also joined the ‘beauty from within’ trend with its

Lyc-O-Mato, a tomato lycopene complex that is a high potency natural antioxidant that promotes younger looking, more radiant skin.

It says clinical studies have shown that dietary supplementation with Lyc-O-Mato provides extra protection against photo-oxidation, reducing UVA & UVB-induced skin reactions. By increasing the levels of antioxidants in the skin, Lyc-O-Mato also enhances the body’s natural defences against environmental stress which can cause premature aging of the skin.

Donald Gartland of Furfural Espanol, says: “For kosher certification, you also need to be aware of the need to control steam and termic fluids in a chemical process in order to avoid cross contamination.” The company manufactures Nutrafur botanical extracts and flavonoids for the food and beverage markets.

Gary Brenner, vice president of marketing and sales at Solbar, a manufacturer of specialty soy proteins and soy isoflavones, makes the point that there is no single authority whose position on halal and kosher compliance is pre-eminent.

During 2006 Solbar expanded its product profile with a special emphasis on the nutritional market segment. The focus is on both soy proteins and isoflavones. Solbar’s recently launched Solpro931 isolated soy protein is characterised by unique physical characteristics and bland flavour profile.

Bontex steam-textured soy proteins are increasingly being used in instant and convenience foods, as a meat alternative and protein booster. Solbar’s goal is to provide the food and supplement industry with the most important of the natural soy solutions. This includes a growing range of isoflavones developed for functional beverages and dairy products, such as Solgen3/S, 10/S and 40/S. In recent years Solbar has researched Soy Saponins as an important ingredient for strengthening the immune system

Halal alternative

Cargill Texturing Solutions has developed a halal alternative to pork fat. Adrogel GR is a blend that enables manufacturers to obtain a restructured fat suitable to replace the pork fat used in many meat products – allowing food manufacturers to produce meat products that meet halal requirements while still benefiting from the functional qualities associated with pork fat.

With a valuable market of more than 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide, Adrogel GR allows food manufacturers to produce meat products that meet halal requirements, while still benefiting from the functional qualities associated with pork fat. Being vegetable derived, it has a lower fat content than pork, making it ideally suited to light products.

Adrogel GR can be prepared with cold water and vegetable oil to produce a restructured vegetable fat. It has a white colour and consistency close to that of back pork fat, and can be cut into small pieces for use in meat such as turkey and poultry sausages.

This trend to healthy eating extends to drinks as well as solid foods. 8th Continent, the General Mills and DuPont nutrition and health joint venture, has rolled out a new refrigerated juice and soy protein blended drink. The 8oz beverages, known as 8th Continent Refreshers, are billed as heart-healthy drinks containing real fruit juice, 20percent of the recommended daily value of calcium, 100percent of daily value of vitamin C and 6.25g of Solae brand soy protein. The company stresses the potential health benefits derived from soy, including lower cholesterol and a reduced risk of heart disease.

Japan is said to have the most developed functional food sector as consumers increasingly demand products that claim to enhance their health and well-being.

Bottled deep sea water is one product that is on a rising trend buoyed by the notion that its high sea mineral content, particularly magnesium, is good for general health. Suntory Functional Drink is made from desalinated deep sea water and was launched in Japan in early 2006. It is made from water collected from more than 200m below the surface where sunlight does not penetrate. Because it is extracted from such a great depth, it is said to be a high purity water.

Another health drink that has been recently launched in Japan is Kirin Uru Water. One version, Uru Water Bunaharitake, is for specified health uses and contains an extract of Mycoleptodonoides aitchisonii, an edible tree fungus that offers the very specific functional claim that it can aid people with hypertension. Studies have found it can also lower blood pressure.

Sapporo Beverage, a joint development between Sapporo Beverage and Ocean Spray, is based on the benefits of cranberries. It says in the last three years imports of cranberry fruit and juice have increased three times. Its Ocean Spray Cranberry Water contains 50g of cranberry polyphenols plus 125mg vitamin C per 500ml bottle. Polyphenols have been found to have antioxidant characteristics and may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.

With close to two billion Muslims worldwide, and having kosher certification being a pre-requisite for entry into the American market, plus the global tend to healthier lifestyles, it certainly seems as if the potential customer base is one that no ingredient manufacturer can afford to ignore. But will the trend reverse the rise in obesity?

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