The Swedish-based firm scooped top honours last week for their product INFAT, a structured vegetable oil containing SN-2 palmitate, or OPO, which mimics the structure of human milk fat.
“When it comes to innovation, we were asking what it meant,” explained Dr Marcus Gliwitzki, chairman of Advanced Lipids.
“SN-2 palmitate, which is the chemical name for our ingredient, is not a novel ingredient in the market as it was introduced in the 90s.
“We thought we did a good job of developing the market specifically in China as well as introducing the concept and scientific evidence to the customer and make it more of a tangible benefit for the consumer.
“We believe this made the difference and gave us a fair chance of winning the award.”
Pooling of expertise
INFAT is the result of a joint venture established by biotech company Enzymotec, a member of the Frutarom group and AAK, a producer and supplier of vegetable fats and oils for the infant formula industry.
It was this combination of clinical and chemical expertise in lipid technologies that stood out for the judging panel, who noted the research pointing to the ingredient’s benefits for infant development.
“INFAT benefits from being much closer structurally to human milk resulting in a stool consistency that is much softer, higher absorption of calcium and fatty acid,” said Dr Glitwitzki.
“We see a greater mineral and bone density in infants when compared to infants that receive a formula with normal vegetable oil.
Dr Glitwitzki also points to a bifidogenic effect observed with the ingredient pointing to a higher lactobacillus count in infants receiving a formula containing INFAT
It is during the first 2 years of life that the gut flora is most active in its development and colonization of the gut, playing a large role in the health of the baby later in life.
A recent double blind controlled study showed that feeding with INFAT containing formula for the first 6 weeks of life not only increased lactobacillus count but also bifidobacteria numbers in faecal stools compared to a control formula.
Mother’s milk the standard
Speaking about the product’s recognition at the awards ceremony in Geneva, Ronald van der Knaap, CEO of Advanced Lipids, said, “It’s an honour to have received this prestigious award and we’re absolutely delighted.”
“Mother’s milk will always be the gold standard of infant nutrition, but OPO ingredients like Infat help formula manufacturers come as close to mother's milk as possible.
“Both Frutarom and AAK are extremely proud of the expert team at Advanced Lipids who have contributed so much to scientific and consumer awareness of the benefits of OPO for infants and their parents.”
“We got a lot of response after winning the award,” added Dr Glitwitzki.
“In a market like China, if you win a European award, it says a lot about the product. So we’re very confident that we can leverage the success of this award. It is very important to us and were very proud.”