Paper proving source of antioxidants for Swiss firm

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Polyphenols Antioxidant Nutrition

A Swiss company extracting what it claims are antioxidant polyphenols from pulp and paper processing waste is to scale up the project to offer the product as a functional food ingredient.

Lausanne-based start-up GreenValue said that it has been recovering polyphenols from an Indian paper company’s facility in the Punjab, employing a method based on hydrolysis to extract an unadulterated form of the polyphenols from wheat, straw, sarkanda as well as bagasses grass sources.

CEO Adil Barakat told that GreenValue is the only company worldwide that is generating polyphenols in this way, and he maintains, that in utilising a renewable source the company is helping to minimise waste.

Free radicals

Moreover, he claims the product generated is extremely efficient at free radical capture.

“The evidence to support its oxidative stress reduction functionality is clear in terms of the clinical data we have derived from animal studies, and the product, has been successfully tested with cattle and poultry,” ​he said.

The company’s current customers are in the agriculture sector, and are located in India, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Canada.

“We are now stepping up our research activities and initiating human trials to evaluate the immune boosting effectiveness and other health benefits of the lignins,”​ said Barakat.

Mounting evidence

Polyphenols are receiving extensive research due to their potent antioxidant activity, their ability to mop-up harmful free radicals, and the associated health benefits. Many have also been implicated in possible protection against diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.

And data from Leatherhead Food International (LFI) shows that the world functional antioxidants market is increasing year on year by around 3 per cent, and was valued at US$400m in 2004, and US$ 438m in 2007. Europe, the US, and Japan account for 90 per cent of this market.

With flavonoids and polyphenols reported to be 45 per cent of this functional antioxidant market, equivalent to almost US$ 200m, it is no wonder that many companies are already offering such ingredients, including Naturex, Burgundy, Chr. Hansen, DSM, Futureceuticals, Danisco, Indena, Frutarom, Genosa, Natraceutical, Cognis, and ADM.

Multiple functions

Barakat claims the polyphenols utilised by GreenValue have potentially multiple human health applications from diarrhea prevention to mycotoxin deactivation functionality due to their complex molecular structure:

“The focus of our R&D department, over the past few months, has been to align the requirements of our partners with the characteristics of our product,”​ continued Barakat.

And he revealed that the company has been collaborating with a range of food manufacturers, health supplement makers and pharmaceutical companies and also non-government organisations in terms of product development and distribution.

Target markets

“The antioxidant food ingredient is about three or four months away from commercialisation, and India is our initial target market,”​ added Barakat, who would not been drawn on which types of food its lignin-based ingredient would be integrated with.

According to GreenValue’s CEO, its product will then be released in Eastern Europe, followed by a wider European and US push.

The company, he said, is also intent on widening its geographical reach in terms of sourcing vegetable biomass from which to recover polyphenols in order to streamline costs, with plans to open facilities elsewhere in Asia, in Latin America and in the US and Canada.

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