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What products is Lonza featuring at this year’s Fi CONNECT and how do they meet current consumer trends?
We are featuring ready-to-market solutions with our advanced Licaps®, liquid capsules, and DUOCAP®, a capsule-in-capsule dosage form. We have grouped those types under our Live Better campaign, which takes into consideration the wellness and sustainability mega-trends.
Lonza is not only an empty hard capsule supplier, we also have ready-to-market solutions that are quite unique and have an exciting range of trend-led, responsibly-made products for various end applications. To give you some examples, we have products with a focus on beauty-from-within, cognitive health, mood & sleep, and joint health.
One of our science-backed ingredients is UC-II®, which stands for Undenatured Collagen Type II. What makes it special is that the triple helix in the undenatured part of the collagen is still intact; it has not been chemically processed or heated. This is important in triggering it’s unique mode of action, supporting joint health. If you compare it to glucosamine chondroitin, which could be seen as the building blocks of the joint, UC-II® is like the car key in the ignition because it actually triggers the chondrocytes in rebuilding the joint in the knee, for example.
In general, we see joint health as an ongoing trend, with the population getting older and osteoarthritis and joint health becoming more of an issue. UC-II® is a fairly new product on the European market but it is well-established in the US market where all the major brands have products on the shelf. We introduced UC-II® in Europe around two years ago and are now seeing it kick off with accelerated speed.
Besides the ingredient, it’s also important to choose the right delivery format. This actually facilitates the high performance of the ingredient and can also be in line with consumer preferences for health and planet-friendly solutions.
On the empty capsule side, we are following the clean label and vegan trend with Plantcaps®, our plant-based capsules made from pullulan. Pullulan is made from tapioca starch through a natural process of fermentation. Plantcaps® capsules are a good alternative for ingredients that need to be protected from oxidation, because its oxidation barrier is the highest you can find in the market compared to a hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (HPMC) capsule or gelatine capsule.
Our HPMC capsule also meets the plant-based and sustainability trends. End-consumers are looking for the most natural sources they can find. While hydroxypropyl methylcellulose doesn’t sound too sustainable to the consumer, it is made out of cellulose and the cellulose we source from pine trees is certified sustainable by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Capsules can be filled with whatever you can think of, and there are different capsules depending on the ingredient. For probiotics, for example, we have capsules that protect the ingredient from stomach acid. For other ingredients that need to be protected from oxidation, our Plantcaps® is ideal.
At the moment, we certainly see a rise in demand for ingredients that support the immune system due to the current COVID-19 situation - vitamins, minerals, probiotics and even traditional ingredients such as herbs and botanicals.
At Lonza, we try to identify the trends and be ready to meet those trends. For example, consumers don’t want to see E-numbers on the packaging and, in various consumer groups, synthetic colorants are seen as something you wouldn’t want to put into your body. So that’s why we developed our Vcaps Plus® food coloured capsules. The four capsules in this range are all coloured by food: Blue Spirulina, Purple
Carrot, Red Radish and Spicy Yellow, which is made with curcumin.
The neat thing for consumers is that the word ‘colourant’ or an E-number for the food colour no longer appears on the capsule, and companies can actually list ‘purple carrot’ as an ingredient of the capsule and not as a colourant.
How has Lonza adapted to some of the challenges posed by the global COVID-19 pandemic?
With COVID-19, everyone had to face the same challenges when it came down to production facilities: we had to make sure our employees were safe while focusing on business continuity and adapt our working processes.
However, the biggest challenge for Lonza was meeting the huge peak in healthcare spending that occurred all over the world at more or less the same time. During COVID-19, we saw commonalities in consumer purchasing and the demand for food supplements correlated with the pandemic.
We have tried to keep ahead and support our customers with these developments. In such times, it’s increasingly important for companies to be able to differentiate themselves from their competitors, and those are the challenges we are facing too: supporting our customers with the latest technologies and providing the food supplement makers with the tools they need for the new reality we face. In order to do so, we recently announced an investment of 85 million Swiss Francs to increase manufacturing capacity by 30 billion capsules all over the world. This supports the trend for short supply chains through regional manufacturing as well as the demand for health and wellness products. It also allows us to be prepared for a better future where people are focusing more and more on their health.
Interview conducted with Christian Heck, Head of Sales Nutrition Europe, Lonza CHI