Cognis Nutrition & Health: A Heritage of Innovation Continues
Last time Nutraceuticals World caught up with La Grange, IL-based Cognis Nutrition & Health, it had just become a separate entity from its parent company, Henkel. Armed with a new name and a new mission, the company seemed determined to make its mark in the nutraceuticals market.
Since 2000, Cognis has broadened its ingredient portfolio significantly to serve both the dietary supplement and functional food markets. The company’s strategic market approach allows it to focus on major health platforms like heart health, weight management and eye health, among others. Cognis believes strongly in science-based products and has continued to further its role as “industry educator” by sponsoring educational programs at key industry events.
Natural-source vitamin E has been a mainstay for Cognis, but today the company is putting strong efforts behind some of the other nutritional ingredients in its arsenal. Some of the latest standouts include Tonalin CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), Vegapure natural plant phytosterols, Xangold natural lutein esters and Omevital omega 3 fatty acids.
Tonalin CLA represents the company’s first foray into the consumer market. As a branded ingredient with a wealth of science behind it, Cognis has invested significant time and effort to ramp up research and consumer promotions for Tonalin. And the efforts seem to be paying off, according to Sharrann Simmons, senior marketing manager, North America, who says there are currently several major food companies evaluating the addition of CLA in their new products, as well as promoting Tonalin on product packaging. The functional food interest in Tonalin is directly linked to the brand equity created by Cognis in the nutritional supplements market where Tonalin is a market leader. This is a welcome development, because as Ms. Simmons points out, developing Tonalin CLA as a consumer brand was, at least in the beginning, a new market direction for Cognis who historically had focused on the B2B market. “It is not common for an ingredient company to get involved in a consumer brand,” she said, adding, “But in the end, this strategy was effective because it showed the company’s versatility and ability to create profitable growth in consumer product lines.”
On the research front, this year marked a milestone for Cognis’ Vegapure brand, which posted impressive results in a clinical trial. This first-ever published human study using Vegapure confirmed that regular use of plant sterol ester capsules are effective in improving lipid profiles without dietary intervention. The study was published in the April edition of Lipids in Health and Disease. Data showed that just three weeks after taking plant sterol capsules, subjects saw their LDL cholesterol drop by 4%, which could translate to a 5-10% drop in cardiovascular risk in the first five years, and by 10% over a lifetime. Next year, the company hopes to gain considerable traction with its consumer branded ingredient Heart-Choice, which is based on natural plant phytosterols.
In the eye health arena, Cognis has unveiled a new ingredient combination that includes both lutein esters and zeaxanthin. Called Super Xangold, the new ingredient contains the ideal ratio of lutein to zeaxanthin (5:1), which is the ratio found in nature and present in the macula of the eye.
At the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) show this year, Cognis introduced a new product line under the name Omevital (o-may-vee-tall). Omevital 1812 TG Gold—one of several versions of the ingredient that will appear under the new brand—is an oil developed for dairy products, spreads and other fat-based applications. It contains an optimum ratio of the long-chain fatty acids EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). In the future, Cognis plans to introduce encapsulated Omevital products with superior stability that are well-suited for a wide range of new functional food applications.
While Cognis has had continued success in dietary supplements and is building on this foundation, Ms. Simmons says the company is also making significant investments to grow its functional foods business. “Twenty years ago everyone was talking about the convergence of drugs and foods into functional foods, but now that talk has become reality in the supermarket,” she said. “We definitely are ready to serve today’s functional food market and would like to expand our product offerings in the future.” But Cognis isn’t jumping into functional foods alone. Last year, it decided to join forces with German flavor giant WILD Flavors to further its efforts in this area. The cooperation combines Cognis’ portfolio of emulsifiers, compounds and functional ingredients with WILD’s expertise in developing innovative flavor systems and optimized formulations. Sharing this knowledge together, Cognis claims, offers both companies a host of new possibilities in the development and marketing of innovative products for the functional food and beverage industry.—R.W.
Cognis Nutrition & Health
5325 S. 9th Avenue
La Grange, IL 60525