The cholesterol-lowering bioactive from cellulose fibre is based on the same technology as Alltracel's m.doc woundcare product. The company is understood to be in discussions with 10 multinational companies over its use in various food categories.
Chief marketing officer Noel Toolan told NutraIngredients.com that developing a soluble version of the bioactive has been a goal for Alltracel from the beginning, since it sees beverages as the most attractive sector of the functional food market.
He cited single-dose drinks as "probably the most active single segment in Asia and Europe", and said "the really specialist breakthrough products are in a beverage format."
"Often a very early question from food companies is 'Are you soluble?'. If you are not, it is often a disadvantage."
Until now, Alltracel has only been able to respond: "We're working on it".
Thus, the breakthrough is expected to help drive the discussions towards a positive conclusion. It will also make the bioactive more competitive against alternative cholesterol-lowering ingredients, certain of which, according to Toolan, do not have a soluble string to their bow.
Alltracel is discussing the whole technology platform with food companies, rather than soluble or non-soluble formulations.
As to the progress of the discussion, he said: "We expect some clarity around our route to market in the next few months".
In the past year Alltracel has reported positive results on the combination of its bioactive with other cholesterol-lowering approaches, such as plant sterols.
Sterols are increasingly being used to give a cholesterol-lowering angle to fruit juice - a format that already has a healthy halo. Products on the market include Coca Cola's Minute Maid Heartwise orange juice.
Beyond the cholesterol-lowering function, other companies are targeting other aspects of heart health with technology and product development. For instance, the Provexis has launched a beverage called Sirco using its tomato-based bioactive for healthy circulation through major retailers in the UK, and has entered into a 12 month agreement with a major food company over food and dairy use of the underlying Fruitflow technology.
Leatherhead Foods predicted at the start of this year that sales of heart health foods will rise nearly 60 per cent over the 2004-2009 period to reach nearly $5.7 billion by 2009. It said in its "Heart Benefit Foods" report that, until now, juice drinks have tended to have a general health positioning due to their antioxidant content, it seems that heart health drinks' star is rising.