Nutritional supplements are going clean and clear label. In the same way the food industry is overhauling its major branded foods to be more transparent with clear and clean label ingredients that are less processed, not chemically sounding and closer to raw plant ingredients, the nutritional supplement industry is undergoing this shift as well.
Consumers are looking for ingredients that they are familiar with. These ingredients are more likely to be plant-based, non-GMO, possibly organic and part of a sustainable supply chain. Plant proteins, fibres, superfruits and foods with focused phytochemicals are front and centre. The nutritional supplement industry is providing more reliable and respected scientific studies to support the functional use for these supplements, creating greater levels of acceptance by the general consumer base.
The “hot trend” plant proteins are pumpkin seed, faba bean, lentil, coconut, pea, alfalfa and hemp. These plant-based proteins are both clean label and a viable alternative to dairy and animal based proteins. They have fewer off flavour issues than some other protein sources, so these proteins can be added to other ingredients to round out a great tasting protein shake or snack bar.
Fibres are the next “hot trend” supplement ingredients. The growing concern about getting enough dietary fibre has put the spotlight on psyllium as a well-known and proven source of fibre. Psyllium is also one of the fibres that’s allowed to make a label claim with new FDA ingredient requirements.
FDA has determined within its definition of dietary fibre the substances that benefit human health; these ingredients include ß-glucan soluble fibre, psyllium husk, cellulose, guar gum, pectin, locust bean gum and hydroxypropylmethylcellulose. Gut health is growing in importance, especially with our ageing population. These fibres are great probiotics!
Clean and clear label ingredients are also being used to replace binders and excipients that sound like chemicals, such as silicon dioxide. Bamboo fibre or rice hulls are being used to replace these items, while, at the same time, still producing a quality tablet with a clean, clear label.
Colours and flavours are being switched to natural colours and flavours. Some of these natural colours and flavours do create some challenges for the formulator, affecting stability and introducing some quality concerns. These challenges can be overcome, however, to present a truly clean, clear label and high quality nutritional supplement.
Today, the prevalence of functional ingredients using botanical ingredients to clean up their label is noticeable. They are being incorporated into product applications across a number of ranges, including ready-to-drink beverages, soft drinks, nutritional bars, powdered drink mixes, juices, chips, cereals, soups, frozen dinners, convenience foods and much more. For example, energy drinks with guarana as a natural source of caffeine, ginger ale with green tea as a natural source of polyphenols, pumpkin seed protein nutritional bars, kale chips and psyllium fibre cereals, just to name a few.
Adding botanicals to your foods and beverages will not only add to your bottom line, it will also fulfil the demand of today’s consumers — baby boomers, gen X and millennials — for clean label functional foods and beverages, and will only continue to grow with the next generation of consumers.
To meet the current and future demands for plant-based foods and beverages, formulators need to continually incorporate creative, regionally and culturally diverse botanical ingredients. Clean, clear and transparent botanical ingredients for the nutritional industry are not only a hot trend; they’re here to stay!