The recent set of negative opinions from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on 13.1 claims were seen as a massive blow to the European and international functional foods and nutraceutical industries, especially the herbal antioxidant and probiotic sectors, which have yet to see a positive EFSA opinion.
The Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) found that green and black tea extracts do not protect DNA, proteins and lipids from oxidative damage; reduce acid production in dental plaque; maintain normal bone; decrease potentially pathogenic intestinal microorganisms; maintain vision; maintain normal blood pressure; maintain normal blood cholesterol concentrations.
Health and wellness
Oliver Hehn, head of product management at the Plantextrakt division of the Martin Bauer Group, which submitted a raft of supporting dossiers to EFSA, said that the firm was exploring new avenues to educate consumers about the reported health benefits of green tea.
However, he stressed, that he does not foresee any negative market impact arising from the NDA opinion as there is, he claims, already a strong association of positivity and well-being with green tea.
He also said that this health and wellness association is driving a booming green tea extract market, which is valued at around $44m (€29.7m), according to recent report from Frost & Sullivan.
And, predict the analysts, this market is set to grow by more than 13 per cent over the next seven years.
Raw material sourcing
Security and quality of raw material supply to support this market demand, continued Hehn, recently prompted the German group to get a seat at the table of one of the leading Chinese suppliers of tea leaves, Zhejiang ShanShan Tea Co.
The joint venture between the two companies will operate under the name ShanShan Tea Extracts Company and a new production facility arising out of the deal will begin commercial production towards the end of 2011, he explained.
The Martin Bauer group has had a long standing relationship with the Chinese firm, which Hehn said has an excellent track record in relation to providing high quality, contaminant free tea leaves.
He told Nutraingredients.com that the financial outlay involved was significant for the Martin Bauer group considering it is a medium sized, family-owned company.
“But the more formalised arrangement with Zhejiang will give us direct input into the decision making process and will also help us secure entry into new markets such as Vietnam, South Korea and Malaysia where there is notable demand for added value tea products,” he continued.
Hehn added that the venture will also guarantee adequate quantities of green tea and will enable the German firm to focus on innovation in delivery for sectors such as dairy and pet food.
Green tea contains between 30 and 40 per cent of water-extractable polyphenols, while black tea (green tea that has been oxidized by fermentation) contains between 3 and 10 per cent. Oolong tea is semi-fermented tea and is somewhere between green and black tea.
The four primary polyphenols found in fresh tealeaves are epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), epigallocatechin, epicatechin gallate, and epicatechin.
Key players include DSM, Taiyo, and Tate & Lyle, while companies like Maxx Performance have developed an encapsulated green tea extract for bakery applications.