Producing a prototype featuring a given ingredient is an idea that’s probably as old as the trade show game itself. It’s a way to demonstrate to potential customers some of what’s possible. And colorful, interesting and maybe tasty prototypes are a way to drive traffic to a trade show booth.
Prototypes as ideas, not blueprints
But many of those prototypes are more in the line of conversation starters and a way to spark new ideas rather than a blueprint for an actual future finished good. Product development teams at ingredient suppliers might throw together a number of these during the course of a year while preparing for various trade show appearances. Many of those prototypes might be one and done exercises. So some hard edges, perhaps in the line of mouthfeel, taste and/or shelf life, don’t have to be perfectly smoothed off for the prototype to perform its assigned function.
Penny Portner, director of marketing for Ham Lake, MN-based Bioenergy, said her company decided that if it was going to send prototypes out to customers and have them interact with them without a Bioenergy rep talking them through that process, the company had to up its game.
“Just because of not having trade shows and not being able to see people face to face we needed to come up with something more creative,” Portner told NutraIngredients-USA.
Bioenergy has long been know for its Bioenergy Ribose, a branded form of D-ribose, a functional sugar that has been shown to support energy production in a sports performance setting. More recently the company debuted its RiaGev ingredient, which pairs Bioenergy Ribose with nicotinamide in a proprietary formulation.
Bioenergy has now sent out fully fledged prototypes featuring both ingredients, both of which break new ground for the company.
One prototype is a hand cream that marks the company’s first foray in a beauty positioning for Bioenergy Ribose after many years as a sports nutrition standby. The company claims the ingredient has shown an ability to improve the skin’s elasticity and to reduce the length and area of wrinkles. It’s an idea the company thinks could have traction in this time when many people are washing their hands far more than they have done in the past.
The second prototype features the company’s RiaGev ingredient. It also marks another first, that being Bioenergy’s foray into a finished food. The company puts its RiaGev ingredient into a chewy granola bits snack prototype that could support a healthy aging claim. One of the advantages of the ingredient is its neutral taste that needs no flavor masking. On the down side, Portner said thus far the RiaGev ingredient performs best in a no-bake application, as higher heat might serve to damage the ingredient’s proprietary structure.
White label opportunity
Portner said the product examples are at a level where Bioenergy could contemplate yet another first: a foray into a smaller scale white labeling possibility with the new prototypes.
“We have done many prototypes with D-ribose for sure. But we have never really taken that next step. We can offer this white label opportunity because of the excellent relationship we have with our copackers,” she said.
Portner noted that the pandemic came at a particularly difficult point in the timeline for the RiaGev ingredient, which was formally launched at Supply Side West late last year.
“So many people have not had the chance to talk to us about RiaGev. We had just started presenting it to our customers and now we have to talk to them in a different way. Who can sit around and wait for things to get back to normal? I know we have to embrace the virtual way of doing things,” she said.