Chr Hansen fights fakes with bilberry launch

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags High performance liquid chromatography

Chr Hansen has added bilberry to its NutriPhy antioxidant range in
a bid to add quality to a market it says is plagued by
"bilberry imposters".

Bilberry, like many berries, is high in antioxiodants and joins lutein and cranberry in Chr Hansen's NutriPhy suite. While the Danish supplier says there are reputable bilberry players such as Italian-based bilberry supply leader, Indena, high raw materials prices of €600 per kg or more have attracted a lot of counterfeiters and cast a shadow over the sector. Reputable suppliers have commented that any raw bilberry selling for under €500kg is almost certainly counterfeit as it is below the cost of production. The fact bilberry cannot be cultivated, requiring wild growth and hand-picking contributes to its high price, as well as the fact it only grows well when weather conditions are both warm and wet in its growing season of May-September. "Supplements manufacturers need to be aware that this material is out there and they should demand HPLC (High Performance Liquid Chromatography) analysis when acquiring raw materials,"​ Chr Hansen phytonutrients business development manager, Sami Sassi, told "That is the only way to guarantee that the bilberry you are buying is actually bilberry and not elderberry, blueberry, cloudberry or cranberry or some other inferior substitute." ​The HPLC method was first developed by Indena, and has been included in several Pharmacopoeias, including the European and Italian editions, and is under evaluation in the US.​ Surveys indicates up to a quarter of bilberry supplements have been adulterated and do not meet the 25 per cent anthocyanin level that is indicative of pure bilberry. "Products exhibit labels which are not clear and often not true​," Italian researchers investigating the problem noted in 2007. "Hence, there is an urgent need for common standards of quality for bilberry preparations in order to ensure their efficacy and safety."Eyes on supplements market ​The supplements market will be the initial target for Chr Hansen's ingredient with functional foods and beverages being looked at in the future. It already markets its cranberry ingredient in this area. It said it would focus on the European and Asian markets and had signed deals with US supplements manufacturers. Although Chr Hansen has applied for no European health claims as research is still being conducted, the company highlighted bilberry's ability to benefit eye health, in particular light sensitive rods present in the retina called rhodopsin. These associations are strongly made among Japanese consumers who Chr Hansen says regard bilberry as the "eye-berry". ​Baby boomers and over-65s are the primary users of antioxidant supplements such as bilberry.

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