Based in the United States, nutritionist Dr Sue Potter joined Tate & Lyle two and half years ago to give the company a focus in the health and wellness arena on a global basis, particularly with the concept of value added ingredients. beverage innovation asked Sue for her expert opinion.
The main goal of the Health and Wellness nutrition team was to look at Tate & Lyle’s current product range and identify new ingredients that could be manufactured by the company.
We are able to draw on the talents of a large group of carbohydrate chemists so this indicated an obvious fibre route.
As a health and wellness team we were charged with showing that these ingredients actually work. We have already met with many fibre experts and are currently working with a number of fibre specialists on various research studies. Initially fairly basic data had to be established, such as how many calories are digested and how quickly they are absorbed by the body.
The new studies cover, satiety – how full a food or drink makes you feel – and the immune benefits of various drinks including prebiotics. We are also very interested in measuring the vitality and motivation offered by carbohydrate energy giving food and drink. How quickly the energy is released and devising a test for focused effort achieved.
Consumers are interested in how to sustain their energy levels – both physically and mentally – with memory an important part of the anti-ageing criteria. Our three main platforms are digestive health, obesity and weight management, and children’s health, and we are currently looking into the ageing arena. There are so many baby boomers now looking for a healthier longer life – both in terms of energy and looking young – so beauty and vitality are top of their agenda.
Having worked as a professor and researcher on a large soy protein research programme involving a number of health petitions into its ability to control blood cholesterol levels, I am aware of the type of clinical studies needed to prove efficacy levels. In all, I have been connected with more than 250 studies in the soy protein sector, and the need to meet regulatory requirements.
Fibre and Promitor
Fibre is an easily understood concept as we all know that we need to increase our intake, so consumer education of this aspect is not required. Even in Asia consumers see it as the same thing – consumers may talk about it in a different way and provide it in different formats but fibre is a good field to go into in terms of the application of its functionality.
Expected textures can vary according to the part of the globe – for instance in certain parts of Asia some drinks are very pulpy – but in general the concept is widely understood. This is the basis of our Promitor offering – a soluble glucose fibre which is perfect for amalgamation in almost every beverage – water, juice drinks, carbonated and dairy drinks etc. We also offer Promitor in resistant starch form for use in baked products. Prebiotic fibre is known to have inherent intestinal health benefits.
Known in the US as soluble corn fibre, in Europe Promitor is referred to more frequently as soluble glucose fibre. Its main benefit is that it is very stable unlike other low acid drinks and can be used in a very wide range of beverages.
Recently we took our pomegranate flavoured water enhanced with 5g dietary fibre to the Institute of Food Technologists – it went down very well – much to our satisfaction.
Enrich and Rebalance
Our Enrich product is a good fit with our basic consumer strategy and our four health platforms – particularly those of obesity (satiety) and anti-ageing. The O2Go Sports Plus beverage launched last year by Santeau is just one example of a smaller company with which we have worked to develop beverage formulations. Of course we also work with a great number of a major companies but client confidentiality is of course respected as requested.
We are working on a range of flavoured anti-obesity or weight management waters in the US. These are based on the concept of adding a combination of fibre and protein which promotes satiety and makes consumers less keen to snack. It also has added vitamins and minerals making it antioxidant, and calcium – as when weight is lost it is known that calcium is frequently depleted too.
Rebalance is another of our formulations that helps those aiming to take the calories out of their food. Cacolac chocolate drink is high in fibre and low in sugar and is just the sort of chocolate milk drink many parents are looking for, and not just in France where it is presently available.
To ensure we maintain the core Tate & Lyle motto – no compromise on taste – we employ a large number of sensory scientists with PhD’s in flavour analysis. We also spend a great deal of time outsourcing our sensory analysis to ensure we achieve full mouth effect and optimum refreshment.
King’s College London has received a large grant from Tate & Lyle in return for access to King’s expertise and work exchanges over the next five years. We have added a faculty and a Professor of Health and a Reader in Endocrinology and Diabetes. We also support a carbohydrate nutrition research laboratory at Waterloo. They have already developed some neat non invasive techniques for looking at metabolites in the blood that may enable studying how rates of carbohydrate intake effect the metabolic pararameters ie energy output.
The Health and Wellness Nutrition Centre, about to open this autumn in Lille, is our most exciting venture so far. It is critical to our value added nutrition strategy in Europe and is being set up under the jurisdiction of Professor Sandra Einerhand who you may meet with at FiE. We have research there ranging from benchtop testing to clinical trials via human studies.
Responding to interest in decreasing sugar intake from sweeteners such as high fructose corn syrup or isosweet, our T&L taste experts are working on methods of sweetener optimisation. They have already demonstrated to the IFT our ability to decrease sugar intake by as much as 30% in still lemonade. When asked to judge between the two drinks (one with 28% reduced sugar and reduced calories) 49% picked the full calorie version. We have also undertaken studies on other beverages – carbonated and powdered – across a range of flavours.
In Decatur in the US we have three floors of application scientists. We are aware that the sports and energy drinks sector is growing – due to demand by the young male population – and more people are looking for zero calorie energy drinks. They may want a caffeine or guarana hit but not a calorie hit. We are also seeing greater demand for refreshing, lightly carbonated waters. The biggest rise over the last three months though has been in the move towards drink sticks – sachets by which you can add nutrition to water in the form of fibre, vitamins or caffeine.
“Why would you choose flavoured water that offers nothing more?” is the question being asked by US consumers looking for a drink that also makes you feel good. At Tate & Lyle we have been monitoring the cosmeceutical market and that is certainly increasing too. Consumers want to look more youthful and that is not going to go away.
For Tate & Lyle, the words satiety and vitality are currently top of mind. It is the anti-ageing and healthy immunity drinks which are capturing the market as consumers don’t want to get sick, miss work and miss out on the activities they want to do – they want to enjoy life to the full.
Susan M Potter PhD, RD
Susan M Potter is Vice President – Health and Nutrition Sciences at Tate & Lyle.
She serves as an Adjunct Associate Professor for the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign and for the Department of Comparative Medicine at Wake Forest University.
Dr Potter has provided strategic direction in relation to regulatory standards of health claims worldwide and had been published in numerous journals including the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Journal of Nutrition, Current Opinion in Lipidology, and Journal of the American Dietetic Association.
Dr Potter holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Colorado State University, a Master of Science degree and a PhD in human nutrition from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She also completed a clinical dietetic internship at Emory University and is a Registered Dietitian.
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