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Special Reports

Panacea '08 highlights huge potential of natural food products
Saturday, February 02, 2008 IST
Ronita Torcato, Mumbai

The demand for natural products is rising not only in the sub-continent but the world over and its market potential needs to be exploited. This was the highlight at the third edition of the Panacea International Trade Fair of Natural Products which brought together the latest in natural products in 93 stalls and over 70 delegates from India, US, Canada and Australia for its January 29 - 30, 2008, conference that ran concurrently at the World Trade Centre in Mumbai.

Supported by a battery of organisations from the industry and approved by the India Trade Promotion Organisation ( ITPO), the Panacea'08.

Conference was attended by experts representing all areas of natural products. The Khadi & Village Industries Commission which alone put up as many as 22 stalls organised a buyer-seller meet on January 31, which was presided over by KVIC's financial advisor Nandini Kapadia. Under the KVIC banner, four manufacturers and distributors from J&K, Punjab, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh extolled the virtues of pure "non-violent" honey, which P Ravindra Kumar, vice-president of the AP Bee Keepers Association, told F&B News was obtained without crushing the honeycombs and thereby killing the bees.

An Australia-domiciled NRI pharmacist couple Andrew A Kissun and his wife brought natural ingredients encapsulated as Sun's Natural Nutrients manufactured by their company Sunpab Health Products. A leader in complementary health care, Sunpab's product range includes formulas and supplementations for various preventive therapy areas.

Four exhibitors highlighted the virtues of soya. Rajeev Jain of ProSoya Foods (India) Pvt Ltd showcased Staeta, a calcium, vitamins, and minerals fortified beverage made from naturally extracted soyamilk from soyabeans. Research studies have shown that the risk of many cancers is reduced as a result of soya consumption. Staeta is good for heart patients who are advised to avoid eating dairy and meat products.

"Staeta is a natural source of isoflavones and soya protein that is in balance with all the other nutrients nature has provided in the queen of all beans and pulses - the soyabean. Staeta has no lactose and thus is an excellent alternative for those with lactose intolerance or dairy allergies," ProSoya staffer Mario Barretto told F&BNews.

Soy in the beverage helps minimise menopausal symptoms in post-menstrual women, he said, adding the same is true for osteoporosis - the degenerative bone disease that afflicts many, especially women in old age. PETA (People for Ethical Treatment of Animals) awarded Staeta the 2005 PROGGY award for best soyamilk company.

RiddhiSiddhi Marketing's stall showcased Soyvita, instant soyamilk powder in two forms, one sweetened and enriched; the other for diabetics. This isolate based protein plant product can be used as a supplement between meals. The high content of dietary fibre and complex carbohydrates help control of elevated blood sugar levels in diabetes.

Yet another natural energiser named Vihaan could be availed of. This high protein drink is a combination of sun-dried pulses and lentils, dates, almonds, pistachois and cardamom and is best consumed with milk as a breakfast food.

At the conference, various presentations were made by industry people and scientists from the USA, Germany, Canada, Australia and India. Delivering the keynote address on day one of the seminar, Dr Anantha Narayana, Head of Hindustan Lever's Herbal Research Centre, gave an overview of natural products, nutraceuticals and herbal ingredients in the Indian sub-continent, and traced regulations in the US and Europe.

India is the second fastest growing major economy in the world, with a GDP growth rate of 9.4% for fiscal 2006-2007.The annual turnover of the Indian market for dietary supplements, nutraceuticals, functional foods, and diet foods is approximately $1.75 billion. The total market for Indian flavours and fragrances is $225 million; flavours comprise 45% of the market while fragrances total 55% India supplies around 80% of the world's needs for oleoresins, herbs and spice extracts. With the growth, certain natural product segments projected to grow 30- 40 % annually.

The demand for naturals has been rising in the sub-continent whose market potential needs to be exploited. The food market, which is valued at $70 billion, doubles every 3 years. The retail boom is leading to a rapid growth of modern retailing especially in the food, personal care and healthcare sector. As the urban Indian shopper has begun to incur greater expenditure on food, groceries and personal care, the average monthly expenditure on these items is growing by a robust 14% every year.

In his presentation, Dr Jorge Gruenwald, co-founder and president of Analyse & Realise, Berlin-based research and consulting company, spotlighted novel botanical ingredients for beverages, nutraceuticals, dietary supplements and natural medicines.

Prof Andrew Scholev from the Brain Sciences Institute, Swinburne University, Melbourne, Australia, summarised the pragmatic, methodological and theoretical issues surrounding herbal extracts influences on human mental performance and mood, and cited examples from European, Chinese and Ayurvedic herbal medicine systems. The herbal extracts assessed included valerian, ginkgo biloba, ginseng, lemon balm, sage, guarana and bacopa.

On day two of the conference, Dr Suresh Itapu, Global Technical Director(Human Nutrition) US Soybean Export Council (USSEC) and American Soybean Association (ASA) spoke on the health benefits of soy protein and nutraceutical applications. He described soyabean as "one of the very few plants that provide a high quality of protein with minimum saturated fat. Soyabean helps people live longer as it contains all the three macronutrients required for good nutrition, as well as fibre, vitamins, and minerals. The amino acids in soyabean is virtually equal in quality to that of milk and egg protein", he said.

Dr J A CS Rao, director, Chhattishgarh State Horticulture and Farm Forestry, elaborated on marketing of horticulture produce and laid special emphasis on the bottlenecks faced by the sector.

Dr Ted Slaghek, product manager ( industrial polymers ) TNO's Food and Biotechnology Division, Netherlands, spoke about innovations conducted by TNO, an organisation for applied scientific research, which has just celebrated its 75h anniversary. His presentation gave an overview of the latest innovations with regard to food applications such as gelling behaviour aimed at substitution of gelatin, phsyical modification of starch and food grade coatings as moisture barriers in food products.

As a showcase, the exhibition targeted the following areas:

Food & beverages: natural & organic foods, vitamins and dietary supplements, diet products, sports food, nutritional drinks, antioxidants, fortified foods, fruits, vegetables, dairy products, speciality foods, readymade meals, confectioneries, soups, soya products, honey, dry commodities, cereals, gourmets, gluten-free foods, mineral water & beverages, refrigerated and frozen foods, and marine products among others.

Raw material & ingredients: plant extracts, raw and encapsulated herbs, spices, natural ingredients, nutraceuticals, probiotics, functional food and bakery ingredients, cosmeceuticals, oilseeds and oilseed extracts, natural essence, natural colours and flavourings, and processing equipment.

In sum, Panacea 2008 served as a platform for manufacturers, importers, exporters, dealers, distributors, reta

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