Steve Osborn, a food technology scout and commercial development director at The Aurora Ceres Partnership told NutraIngredients the rising use of botanical ingredients in functional foods and drinks is 'very much being driven by the technology that's available to them'.
He noted that the use of botanicals in everyday food and drink products has previously been restricted, but new technologies to improve extraction, deodorise and de-flavour ingredients are changing the situation.
"New technologies that have become available, that have been able to micro-encapsulate and disperse those ingredients in a better or different way, are enabling their use in every day products," he said.
Osborn cited curcumin as 'a great example' of this, noting that while the ingredient is well known to be insoluble, the industry is increasingly seeing solublised or water dispersible versions becoming available, which is now allowing them to be incorporated into everyday food products.
Sebastien Bornet of Horphag Research told us that we will still have traditional dietary supplements that use botanical ingredients, but that some of the more generic ingredients can also be very successful in the wider food and beverage market.
"However, it depends on the market," he noted. "In Asia they are very big fans of functional beverages. There is a lot of interesting new products there."
'An exciting time'
Meanwhile, Shaheen Majeed of Sabinsa said the 'obvious reason' for the industry witnessing a rise of botanicals in functional foods is the fact that many originally come from culinary origin - and consumers are now demanding to see those culinary ingredients in food form.
"Now a consumer is not restricted to a capsule or a tablet, so you're going to start seeing a lot more traditionally used food items, that are now in supplements, come back into food," he said. "It's an exciting time"
Majeed cited curry as an example, noting that people may think they are getting curcumin from the dish but that a traditional curry delivers very little curcumin.
"So how about a curry that's infused with curcuminoids 95%," he suggested. "There are a lot of opportunities which enhances the flavour profile or even the acceptance rate by consumers."