The new name better describes the current and future strategic direction of the business, according to Rodney Ausich, Kemin Health president.
"When Kemin Foods was created in 1995, we had a small staff organized around the ingredient product FloraGLO Lutein. We were new to the consumer market and chose a name that encompassed the wide platform of orally consumed ingredients," Ausich said. "Since then things have changed significantly."
He explained that the research involving lutein and its impact on human health has expanded and that his staff is now involved in all aspects of the "lutein interprise": scientific, regulatory and business.
"The market tells us that our current and future products are centered on human health at the molecular level. Whether we apply our expertise through supplementation, food and beverage delivery systems or future applications yet to be conceived, human health is where we are positioned and where we will continue to grow," said Ausich.
However, Craig Maltby, spokesperson for the company, assured NutraIngredientsUSA.com that the company would continue to focus its energies on lutein.
"This product is the cornerstone of our business and will continue to be so for some time," he said, adding that the main point of the name change is that, "food and beverages may not be the only way" for people to take the supplement in the future as new technology becomes available.
Maltby noted that the name change is aimed primarily at new customers or people who are new to the industry, who are not familiar with the company and will get a clearer picture of its business from the new name, whereas in the past there may have been some confusion.
"Do we make food products? No, we work in the developent of scientifically innovative health ingredients," he said.
Despite the name change Kemin Health is part of a larger group and the firm will continue to seek the prominence of the Kemin and FloraGlo brand names.
Lutein, which cannot be made by the body, helps protect eyes by depositing in the macula where it filters out harmful blue light, stopping it from reaching and damaging the sensitive back tissue of the retina. In the western world the average lutein intake is just 2mg per day, compared to the recommended 6mg daily, according to Kemin.
A trial published this summer suggested that Lutein supplements may be even more beneficial than previously thought, appearing to increase macular pigment in people at earlier stages of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
The findings suggest that a much larger group of at-risk individuals than previously thought may gain some benefit from taking lutein supplements. Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in the western world, affecting an estimated 30 million people worldwide. This number is expected to double by 2030. But Ian Murray, lead researcher on the trial published in the July issue of Experimental Eye Research (79, pp21-27), said that about 20 per cent of individuals over the age of 65 have the early signs (changes in retinal cell pigmentation) of the disease, even though many may not know about it.
Dr Murray said he was "excited by the prospect that a simple addition to the diet may impede the progress of the disease and prevent others who are at risk experiencing such problems. Right now, dietary intervention is the only hope for most of them".