US supplier Balchem has joined with Dutch firm Van Eeghen Functional Ingredients (VEFI) to develop the European choline foods and food supplements market, after the nutrient won three EU health claims in 2012.
European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)-approved health claims for ‘normal liver function’, ‘homocysteine metabolism’ and ‘normal use of bodily fats’ are driving major EU supplement brand interest in choline, said Erik Bakkers, VEFI business development manager Europe.
“We are speaking with major manufacturers who are interested in the claims and the fact they can provide the EU-required minimum dose of 82.5mg per day for less than one centime per day,” Bakkers told us.
As is often the case in food supplements, the US choline supplements is greatly advanced on Europe’s, with many choline-containing supplements, although it is often included unheralded in multivitamins.
Choline appears in some European products in this format also.
“We expect to see stand-alone choline supplements on the market by the end of 2012,” Bakkers said
The nutrient’s most common use is in infant formulas, where its presence is near-ubiquitous as it is also a component of breast milk.
It is also used in energy drinks, energy shots and sports drinks mainly due to links to cognitive benefits although EFSA’s health claims panel did not approve this section of the dossier it assessed. Cereals and bars also feature choline in the US.
Under the arrangement Balchem supplies the ingredient known as VitaCholine, while VEFI looks after distribution.
It is the first time that Balchem and VEFI have worked together and they are also targeting Asian, BRIC and Australian markets. Bakkers said he had seen choline supplements in Australia making brain health claims.
Eric Smith, Balchem sales and marketing VP in Food, Pharma & Nutrition added in a statement: “This partnership will address the large growth potential for food and supplement fortification. VitaCholine delivers nutrition that is ‘Essential for Everybody’. Supplementation is an important way to address the evident shortfall of choline in the human diet.”
Click here to view EFSA’s 2011 assessment of choline.