"Our customers worldwide are showing increased interest in science-backed ingredients that boost immunity," said Eckert. The worldwide supplier's branded ingredients Tonalin (conjugated linoleic acid), Betatene (mixed carotenoids), and Covitol (vitamin E) fall into this functional target of immunity.
The human immune system defends the body against infectious agents, such as bacteria and viruses. A report commissioned by Cognis maintains nutrition is the most important outside factor influencing the immune system - depending on balance of energy sources, amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals.
The Veris Research Information Service report looked at the immune modulating effects of vitamin E, beta-carotene and CLA - as well as herbals ginseng and echinacea. Age is another important contributing factor cited in the report.
"Market research has been showing sales of products for immunity to be ranked third," said Eckert of the growing area within the functional foods industry, which follows behind disease prevention and healthy aging as the health topics of most concern to consumers.
According to the US Census Bureau, the proportion of the population aged over 65 years is set to rise from 12.4 percent in 2000 to 19.6 in 2030. The population aged over 65 years is projected to increase from 35m in 2000 to 71m in 2030.
The company is also positioning itself to offer various ingredients that are geared to the same health end - such as its cholesterol-lowering Vegapure plant sterols combined with the similar heart benefits of omega-3 from Cognis' latest acquision, Norwegian fish oil producer Napro Pharma.
Omega-3 has been extensively studied for its ability to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and received an FDA-approved health claim to that end.
"Omega-3s are a perfect complement to Cognis' Vegapure plant sterols and sterol esters, which have been clinically proven to lower cholesterol," the company has said.