Among the six products nominated for the awards, four are dairy-derived peptides with demonstrated functional benefits.
They include Lactium, a milk protein hydrolysate containing a peptide with relaxing properties developed by French company Ingredia, DSM Food Specialities' sports nutrition peptide PeptoPro, and two peptides from the Dutch group DMV, one aimed at lowering blood pressure and the other for removing toxins and revitalizing energy levels.
A peptide is a compound of two or more amino acids bound together. Single amino acids are not allowed to be added to foods in Europe, while proteins are difficult to add to liquids - they tend to be included in thicker drinks like shakes - and hard to digest.
Dr Stefan Siebrecht, marketing manager for the PeptoPro product, told NutraIngredients.com earlier this year that "the whole food industry is working on biofunctional peptides".
He added that the technical developments - splitting proteins into small fragments to allow for better absorption and faster uptake by the body as well as increased solubility in liquids - fit with two of today's major trends in the food industry.
The Atkins diet has made people think more about protein, and replacing carbohydrates with protein. At the same time, new developments in peptides are set to offer innovation in a whole range of applications, as demonstrated by DMV.
The company's C12 peptide has already been formulated into a 'jelly drink' by Japanese firm Itochu, targeting young people with active lifestyles. Packaged in different sachets for 'before all night' and 'after all night', the product is being rolled out to gyms and convenience stores.
The ingredient manufacturers claim that while peptides are currently used mainly by the sports nutrition industry, there are new application areas under way, including those targeting some of the biggest disease conditions set to affect global populations like cholesterol-lowering and pre-diabetes products.
Use of the novel ingredients will also be driven by the evolving attitudes to protein and carbohydrates.
"If you look at all the mass market sports drinks today, their basic ingredients are sugar and water. But all this sugar is unhealthy and the big companies marketing the leading brands are under pressure to respond to the obesity epidemic," said Siebrecht.
The HiE awards will be presented during a ceremony starting at 5.30pm tomorrow in the registration area of the show.
Other ingredients nominated include BioSerae Laboratories' NeOpuntia, a fat-binding plant extract, and Cerestar's low insulin response carbohydrate Trehalose.