The Future of Food Additives
According to a new report from Packages Facts, a Rockville, MD-based market research publisher, consumers are driving a change in the reliance on synthetic and artificial ingredients in food products. “Food Additives: The U.S. Market” claims that more natural ingredients are going to replace the artificial ingredients that have been used consistently for over 50 years.
Research chemist John Mark Carter has concerns about the issues with stability and standardization when it comes to natural ingredients. “The trend toward more ‘natural’ ingredients is strong in the US and EU, where consumers can afford to choose more expensive products. But in addition to economics, there are two significant problems with these materials. One is their relatively low stability. Processed ingredients usually exhibit better shelf life, because impurities that accelerate spoilage are removed. The other problem is a lack of standardization. Naturally derived ingredients are usually variable mixtures of active ingredients with other materials. The active ingredients are rarely assayed and often poorly characterized.”
Dr. Jana Bogs, an independent researcher and consultant shares her perspective. “As consumers become more aware of nutrition in this information age, they want better quality products. Natural products are more ‘user friendly’ in the body than synthetics. Nature provides nutrients complexed in food form, the complexity of which is not able to be duplicated synthetically. One example is vitamin C from food sources which include a myriad of synergistic phytonutrients.”
She provides another example. “Consider the intake of calcium from food instead of from ground-up rocks. People were not meant to eat rocks. The calcium from rock sources, while ‘natural,’ is NOT natural as food for humans. This ‘rock source’ calcium ends up calcifying soft tissue–Aging!–instead of being utilized properly. Humans were meant to get calcium from foods. My work involves increasing calcium content (and other nutrients) in foods naturally through an enhanced growing process which starts with balancing soil nutrients.”
Aftan Romanczak, an expert in restaurant chain research and development, says, “The change to natural ingredients will always be dictated by supply and cost. Who will certify quality and supply? Not the FDA. Government regulatory budgets are stretched thin now and ineffective.”
Romanczak explains that changes depend largely on customer response. “How much are consumers willing to spend? The current products on the market are not cheap. The natural ingredient market will mimic the economy and increases or decreases in disposable dollars. Artificial ingredients will evolve into more effective synthetic compounds and the advances in nanotechnology will be the driver.”
Health foods and beverages marketing expert, Ninad Deshmukh, agrees, “The entire replacement of artificial ingredients in food products is not going to happen though I would be very glad to see such a day! The reasons include product cost, taste, and appearance- all continue to matter to the majority of the world’s population.”
What about the demands of health conscious customers in other countries? Deshmukh says, “Definitely people who are health conscious, care about earth and having money to afford will definitely drive the demand for natural ingredients. I have been involved with health food products manufacturing and marketing in India for the last 11 years and found that there is a niche market, though it’s growing. Price and taste still play a major role in choosing health food products for majority in India, where I am based.”
Color continues to be a critical factor in food appeal and marketability. The growth in color additives has been due to a transition from artificial colors to natural colors, with cost and formulation issues a critical area within the natural color additives market. However, consumer concern appears to be the fundamental factor in terms of the future of food additives.