The European food and beverage industry is pushing for a set of proposed changes to the European Union’s Novel Foods Regulation commission, complaining that the current system restricts innovation.
The move is important in the U.S. as that country’s own Food and Drug Administration is in the midst of a series of hearings on the potential overhaul of its system of evaluating functional foods.
According to a spokesman for the Confederation of the Food and Drink Industries of the EU, “the revision of the regulation should stimulate innovation in the food and drink industry.”
The EU has had problems with its Novel Foods Regulation process since it was introduced in 1997. It currently takes five times as long to get a new food or beverage product approved than it does in the U.S.
Problems with regulations aren’t just restricted to Europe, however. Across the globe, terms like “natural ingredients” remain fairly ambiguous, according to Dr. Landry Le Chevanton, a scientist with DSM Nutritional Products.
Speaking at the Natural Ingredients Symposium earlier this summer, Le Chevanton noted that “There is guidance in the area in the European Union… but there is nothing uniform.”ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS, NOT SO SWEET
A majority of Americans believe that artificial sweeteners are only somewhat or not at all safe, according to a poll of 2600 adults taken earlier this summer.
Of those adults, more than 60 percent had doubts about the safety of the sweetener – and only half thought that knowing the kind of sweetener was unimportant. Nevertheless, according to the poll, taken by Harris Interactive, concerns about those sweeteners were not a big factor, with 77 percent indicating that they were only somewhat or not at all concerned.
While that means the poll was fairly inconclusive with regard to an absolute decision on the marketability of artificial sweeteners, it should be part of the delicate considerations surrounding the type of product under design. For example, older members of the polling group were more likely wanting to know what was sweetening the food, but they were also more likely to believe that artificial sweeteners were safe – meaning that the disclosure of a certain ingredient was more likely to be a plus. But for younger Americans, the concerns are greater.
Think it’s not a big deal? Check out the ongoing lawsuit involving Asda, a U.S. owned supermarket chain that launched a “no nasties” label in the U.K. The “nasties” in question? Artificial ingredients, colors or flavorings, including aspartame. Ajinomoto, which makes aspartame, objected… litigiously.FUNCTIONAL BEVERAGES: ALL SIGNS POINT TO GROWTH
Functional foods are growing faster than vitamins and dietary supplements, according to a recent study from Euromonitor International.
The study indicated that on a global level, the $97 billion fortified food and beverage market was about twice the size of the vitamin and dietary supplement market – and the food and beverage side is expected to grow by more than a third – 34 percent – by 2011.
Additionally, nutraceuticals have hit the point where the average American is spending approximately $90 per year on these products, according to research from the San Francisco-based Center for Culinary Development.
While that might be true, there’s global recognition that these products don’t take the place of dietary needs – which means that consumers are likely turning to these products for specific needs, instead.
In the U.S., sales of functional drinks other than yogurt grew 11 percent last year, and are expected to grow from $13 billion to $19 billion by 2012.
Another poll, from the Natural Marketing Institute, showed that overall functional foods and beverages were a $38.6 billion market last year.
That covers everything from vitamin-enhanced waters to cosmetic-oriented products.
The CCD report noted five specific functional areas that seem to have the most potential for generating consumer interest: “huetrition,” the idea that foods offer nutrition in their color makeup; “beauty foods and beverages,” Brain enhancers, Satiety foods, and Mood Foods.
Additionally, it noted that there is growth in the areas of immunity enhancement and gut health.