Functional Foods: The Holy Grail for an Ingredient Supplier?

Perhaps, but companies looking to pursue that business need to deliver results, not intentions, says George Pontiakos, president and CEO of BI Nutraceuticals.

George Pontiakos

March 13, 2014

2 Min Read
Functional Foods: The Holy Grail for an Ingredient Supplier?

Compliance continues to be a significant issue in both the pharmaceutical and nutrascience industries. Consumers struggle to consistently take required or prescribed pill loads, especially if they are not getting desired results.

The ability to incorporate beneficial nutrients in an efficacious dose into an individual’s normal food schedule is truly the “holy grail” for both the consumer and the product manufacturer. And providing the consumer with value and function as part of their daily routine is absolutely critical to the long-term success of the nutrascience market.

While there will always be a niche consumer segment that will prefer a pill, tablet or capsule, the general population focused on health trends needs the ability to ingest the function as part of their normal dietary schedule. Mass-market food companies have embraced this concept and incorporated unique fibers, omega-3s, and probiotics into their offerings. The use of these ingredients has allowed for health-related “sound bites” to be marketed to the mass consumer base by these legacy food companies desperate for line extensions, line freshening, and defending their retail real estate.

However, getting more traditional supplement ingredients incorporated into mainstream foods and beverages is not for the faint of heart, especially for the typical undercapitalized ingredient suppliers, brokers, dealers, grifters, and cobblers that continue to infect our market with adulterated, contaminated and inefficacious raw materials.

BI’s yearly investment in our quality program alone is millions of dollars, a commitment we proudly make to serve all of our customers across the nutrascience, food, beverage, and pet markets. And let me tell you: these food and beverage companies demand a professional supply chain with strong investment in documentation, chain of custody, quality, certification and compliance.

The level of quality control in our industry—or the “nutrascience normal”—will not cut it with these manufacturers. They recognize the cost of these programs, but are willing to pay for them to protect the reputation of their brands and maintain peace of mind. They also recognize the investment in professionals and capital ingredients suppliers make within their companies to provide these quality raw materials.

The “holy grail” is not something one can happy talk, the commitment to play is a cultural change, a commitment to quality across every aspect of your business, a commitment to upgrade your suppliers, personnel, and business focus and then a commitment to investing a significant cash component on a yearly basis just to enter the market.  

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