Five minutes at FI Europe with …
Agro Food Industry Hi-Tech: What innovations are you presenting at FiE 2017?
Tanja Budde: We are a mineral company, known especially for calcium carbonate, but we are also a distributor of specialty ingredients such as vitamins. Omya presents here at FiE concepts on sugar reduction and calcium fortification, also supported by distribution products in our portfolio. You can see it in the cookies we present today, where 20% of sugar in the icing has been replaced by calcium carbonate, making the product healthier, adding also a technological benefit in reducing drying times, hygroscopicity and enhancing the opacity. Including our calcium carbonate in the dough, we influence positively the baking, reducing the formation of acrylamide. We also promote here a concept of dairy-free, vegan alternate beverages, where calcium carbonate is suitable as a calcium fortification source, up to cow’s milk, without yielding an off taste. For this, we pay a lot of attention on particle size and structure, so to maintain the best mouthfeel and minimize sedimentation.
AF: What about the calcium bioavailability?
TB: Calcium carbonate is a very well known source of calcium, and there is plenty of studies comparing calcium carbonate with other sources. We compiled a sizable set of scientific information on the bioavailability of calcium carbonate compared with that of competitive sources, and we are able to show that its bioavailability is better than calcium phosphate, for example; it provides the highest elemental calcium content -up to 40% versus for example a 21% for calcium citrate.
AF: Where are Omya calcium supplements targeted?
TB: We have developed concepts such as the Omya Bone nutraceutical concept. It is calcium carbonate in a compressed tablet, along with vitamin D3 from our distribution portfolio, loaded on a porous carrier “Omyanutra 300-OG” that Omya has developed for nutraceutical applications. The same concept can apply to food fortification, for example in infant nutrition.
AF: What other advantages has calcium carbonate in the food industry?
TB: In general with calcium carbonate you have multiple functionalities at the same time. Calcium carbonate is a common source of calcium in nutrition. But our calcium carbonate products such as Calcipur® can be used as a bulk provider, an extrusion aid, a white pigment. More and more customers are learning also the technological advantages of calcium addition. For example in free-flowing and anti-caking. Silica was for years lo standard in anti-caking but now for example in the European Union there is a lot of discussion on nanoparticles and they are looking for non-nano solutions to caking, one of which is our product. A further topic we are working on is the replacement of titanium dioxide as a white colorant. TiO2 is going to be replaced, again because of the fear around nanoparticles, although whitening TiO2 isn’t nano-scale. In US, the FDA has approved calcium carbonate as a pigment just a few weeks ago. We have developed concepts that we will be launching in the next couple of months.
AF: Do you also offer other minerals and which ones?
TB: We have magnesium and zinc in our distribution portfolio, but we aim to expand our portfolio. The basic minerals are always the same, but there are different salts and options of each mineral for different applications, for example water-soluble salts aimed at drinks, versus complexes of different salts for infant nutrition or sport nutrition to make sure that one has the best bioavailablity; sometimes one needs even insoluble salts like in the dairy-alternative beverages where soluble calcium salts would cause protein aggregation.
AF: What else can we expect in the next year from Omya?
TB: There are different things in our pipeline. We mainly do natural calcium carbonate and explore its functionalities and applications. We just launched a new material platform in the United States: for example a new mineral based on Omya proprietary technology called functionalized carbonate. It is launched under the brand name Omyafood 100-OG. It’s , a surface treated product that provides completely new functionalities compared to the natural calcium carbonate. It is a very porous material with high carrying capacity, excellent anticaking performance and nutritional benefits. This is a platform with superior performances that we push along with the natural calcium carbonate, and it will be launched in Europe in 2019.