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Fortified gel printed onto ready meals set for rapid global commercialization, says company

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Image courtesy of Fortified Food Coatings
Image courtesy of Fortified Food Coatings

Related tags Food

A new generation of restaurant quality ready meals targeting seniors is set for commercial launch this year, with a patented technology allowing fortified gels to be printed onto the food.

Seniors are a population of concern for many countries around the world, with lower activity leading to lower food consumption, muscle wasting, and malnutrition. Many are also suffering from illness and taking medications, which can affect appetite and their sense of smell and taste.

Dutch company Fortified is addressing these issues with a new range of restaurant quality ready meals coated with a thin layer of gelatin fortified with key nutrients like calcium, vitamin D and collagen peptides.

“Fortified has developed a Food Printer that applies thousand small drops exactly on an individual plate in two seconds,” ​Boy van den Dungen, commercial director for Fortified Food Coatings BV, told us. “The Food Printer will be implemented in the meal production of selected professional ready meal manufacturers.”

“The fortification technology can be used with all micro-nutrients that are water soluble and stay transparent without affecting taste, color or odor (smell),” ​he explained. “The focus on our current micro-nutrients follows the strategy to present vitality meals to seniors, the group of consumers lacking the effects of sun and exercise.”

Global patents cover the products and the processes for different micro-nutrient blends, he added.

Origins and partners

The blend of micro-nutrients in the current range was developed in the Quality for Life program of DSM Nutritional Products and is produced by Fortitech, explained van den Dungen, and DSM is a key partner in the project, along with Rousselot and Bunzl.

“Fortified is an independent Food Tech company started in The Netherlands,” ​he said. “In October 2012 the company was founded on the initial idea to develop a new generation of great restaurant quality ready meals. Rousselot was very enthusiastic from the first moment and started to develop the first coating.

“DSM joined forces in 2013 with its Quality for Life program and the opportunity to access the fortified ready meals market, part of the fast growing functional food market. Bunzl supported the Fortified organization with its network of food manufacturers and a newly developed disposable plate that suits the presentation of restaurant quality.”

Elderly eating
Seniors are a population of concern for many countries around the world, with lower activity leading to lower food consumption, muscle wasting, and malnutrition. Image: © iStockPhoto / monkeybusinessimages

Commercialization

Fortified will launch the meals commercial in The Netherlands and Belgium in the fourth quarter of 2015, said van den Dungen, with other European markets following in early 2016. “Larger international food and catering companies have shown interest to introduce this concept under their brand names,”​ he added.

“New products with specified micro-nutrient blends have already been developed and will find their way to the market once the first product has been launched successfully.”

The company presented its technology at the recent IFT Annual Meeting and Expo in Chicago, and received “serious attention”​, said van den Dungen. “Several top food manufacturing companies have visited us and have shown interest. We will give follow-up on these companies in a short notice,”​ he added.  

The timescale for further commercialization, like in the US, depends on current partner selection for ready meal manufacturers and the required legal approvals, said van den Dungen.

The US is the largest market for ready meals, valued at about $25 billion annually, according to research companies. Japan and Europe are the number two and three markets, he said. Putting a value on the market size for ready meals dedicated to the target group of seniors is more challenging, and differs by country and region, depending on wealth, region and acceptance of chilled and frozen products, he added.

“It is our goal to kick-off in the US next summer, depending on launch perspectives with these manufacturers.”

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