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Health ingredients company NutriLeads was recognised at last year’s FiE Innovation Awards for its proprietary extraction process to produce a soluble fibre upcycled from carrot pomace. We spoke with CEO Joana Carneiro about the importance of recognising scientific excellence, and how the firm is meeting growing consumer interest in immunity-strengthening products.
Consumers are not only more demanding than ever about what they expect from food products; they are also far more knowledgeable. Products must not only be natural, wholesome and nourishing; they must also be supported by reliable scientific evidence.
“At NutriLeads, we are meeting this consumer need by developing plant-based ingredients that really strengthen human health,” explains Carneiro. “This is our mission.”
In particular, Carneiro notes that consumers are increasingly looking at boosting their immunity. This led NutriLeads to developing the company’s first product, BeniCaros, a natural immune health ingredient derived from upcycled carrot pomace, a by-product of carrot juice production.
“BeniCaros has been taken through rigorous pre-clinical and clinical studies to demonstrate its safety and positive effect on human health,” says Carneiro. “We’re still going through all the data. But we found evidence of better recovery times among those who take BeniCaros.”
Research also revealed some beneficial actions in the gut microbiome, suggesting that BeniCaros can also deliver prebiotic benefits. Another advantage is that the ingredient can be taken in small doses. “BeniCaros brings all these things together, and we feel that there is nothing like this on the market,” adds Carneiro.
NutriLeads’ BeniCaros innovation won last year’s Health Innovation Award at Fi Europe. Carneiro believes that a key reason for the product’s success here was the very unique clinically study realized on subjects exposed to a common cold virus that demonstrated and proved very differentiating supporting immune health claims of this ingredient.
“Consumers are looking for clinically proven products that are backed by science,” she explains. “They want the products they buy to be substantiated. And in the companies that we approach, it is the scientists and researchers that first make sure we have ticked every box.”
Carneiro sees the Innovation Award as recognition of this commitment to science. She also believes that the Award has helped NutriLeads get its key messaging across, in a competitive industry where reputation and visibility are critically important.
BeniCaros was launched in the US last year, targeting consumers looking to go beyond just vitamin and mineral supplements in supporting their immune health. The product has GRAS status in the US, with authorisation in Europe as a novel food ongoing.
“We are currently expanding our position in other countries, with partnership distributor agreements in order to bring pre-mix immune health solutions to market,” says Carneiro. “We are looking to Asia and Latin America as well.” Indeed, the company is currently in talks with a range partners across the globe, from Australia and Korea to Brazil.
“The pandemic really brought home to consumers the importance of eating well, exercising and being mentally fit,” concludes Carneiro. “Consumers are now much more aware of these things. They are really looking to be proactive in supporting their immune system, rather than simply reactive.”
The Fi Europe Innovation Awards celebrate people, companies and organisations breaking new ground, and has become one of the most prestigious awards in the industry. The deadline for this year’s applications is 7 October. The winners will be announced during Fi & Hi Europe, which takes place from 28 November to 8 December 2022. Find out more about the Innovation Awards.