UK biotech launches vitamin microcapsules for the drinks industry

By Nicola Gordon-Seymour

- Last updated on GMT

© ratmaner / Getty Images
© ratmaner / Getty Images

Related tags: Vitamin d, Vitamin d supplementation, microencapsulation, Britvic, functional beverage, beverage

University of Cambridge tech spin-off, Xampla has launched vitamin D microcapsules using novel technology that protects oil-based ingredients from degradation making them suitable for functional soft drinks.

Developed in partnership with Britvic, the patented technology is engineered to create high performance microcapsules that preserve ingredient integrity during transit and storage and extend vitamin shelf-life allowing producers to add health claims to products.

The vitamin D prototype is designed for the drinks industry however the technology supports any oil-based vitamins and flavours and can be adapted to other food applications.

Previously, brands relied on costly “overage”​ of vitamins and nutrients and simply accepted the inevitable deterioration of ingredients during the product’s lifetime, or did not add vitamins at all, said Xampla CEO, Simon Hombersley.

He explained: “These microcapsules provide a high level of protection but are digestible and deliver full bioavailability of the vitamin. Xampla supplies a dry powder or slurry which integrates for beverage product production lines in the same way as other vitamin products.

“Vitamin microcapsules are a drop-in solution and fit seamlessly with existing industry manufacturing processes.”

Simple solution

Microcapsules contain a microscopic droplet of vitamin oil wrapped in a pea protein layer that guards against ultra-violet light, pH imbalance and pasteurisation, without compromising product taste.

The strategic development of vitamin D will appeal to young consumers according to the results of a poll, commissioned by Xampla, that canvassed 4,000 UK adults to gauge demand for vitamins in drinks.

Carried out by Yonder, the survey found half of 18-35-year-olds were not getting enough vitamin D through their diet or from sunlight exposure and are among the group most concerned about health and wellbeing.

Hombersley explained: “Our vitamin microcapsule provides a much-needed, simple solution for brands to micro-package Vitamin D safely in clear bottles, and the potential to micro-package a whole range of other nutrients in future.”

Broad appeal

The technology supports a range of oil-based vitamins, including vitamin A, E or K, “to deliver precisely the target RDI per serving, reducing overage​”, he said.

“Everyone can benefit from Xampla’s plant-based microcapsule technology. 69% of the British public are looking to guard against winter colds, flu and Covid by taking extra vitamins.”

Health and wellness concerns are widespread among respondents, with nearly three in five (57%) expressing a preference to top-up vitamin intake through food and drink products, according to poll findings.

“The trend for benefit-led products has been steadily growing over the last ten years. Young people and parents are particularly concerned with the health and wellbeing properties of their products, particularly in the post-Covid context and as we approach the colder months,” ​Hombersley said.

Big brand opportunity

Indeed, there is a general trend for products that support healthy lifestyles, the survey found. It revealed that one third of consumers (33%) choose drinks containing vitamins over those with no health benefits, while the majority of parents (69%) said they consider the vitamin content of food and drink for their children.

To this end, microcapsules offer big brands the opportunity “to get the vitamins people need directly to them inside everyday products”​, said Hombersley.

“Consumers will be able to get more nutritional value out of the beverages they already enjoy, from the brands they already know and trust. We are working with multi-nationals to bring this product to supermarket shelves,” ​he added.

Britvic is likely to be the first to benefit from the technology - although it has yet to announce a product release.

 

 

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