"Consumers are interested in ‘natural’ foods, but natural doesn’t necessarily mean nutrient rich,” said Rachel Murphy, scientific leader at DSM.
“Fortification can help fill the gaps in nutrient intake by Americans who choose natural and non-natural products,” she told BakeryandSnacks.com.
Americans, she said, had many nutrient shortfalls, including omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and vitamins A, D, C and E, among others.
“Fortification of bakery, snacks and cereal products is an opportunity to help Americans meet their needs, especially since over half of Americans snack two to three times a day and snacks provide the least nutrients per calorie compared to other meal occasions.”
Snacks, bars and cereal
Marlena Hidlay, association marketing manager at DSM, agreed the snack sector had plenty of potential for fortification.
“Consumers are starting to look for more on-the-go snack options and bars, which are a great delivery system to get in your vitamins and nutrients while enjoying a delicious and convenient snack,” she said.
“…Many nutritional bars are already fortified, but there is a great opportunity to increase fortification or add a complementary blend to existing products to leverage health benefits.”
Similarly, she said breakfast cereal would continue to be an ideal segment to fortify. “Ready-to-eat cereal still remains the number one in-home breakfast choice amongst consumers, according to the NPD Group’s Future of Eating report last year, and we see consumers choosing cereal as a snack throughout the day.”
Murphy said DSM was focusing R&D efforts on protein and antioxidants specifically, but also looking into expanding its naturally-occurring nutrients to tap into natural concerns.
It already had a naturally sourced zeaxanthin derived from marigold flowers, for example, which had important benefits for eye and skin health and cognition.
However, asked on the difference in bioavailability between naturally occurring and synthetic nutrients, she said: “Generally speaking, fortified or supplemental sources of nutrients have equal if not greater bioavailability than naturally occurring nutrients.”
Phytates, for example, naturally occurred in foods like grains and oil seeds but bound minerals like iron making them “less likely to be absorbed” in the body, she explained.
The goal, she said, was to have options for industry – both natural and synthetically produced.