There has been a growing swell of interest in natural ingredient systems in both Europe and the US in recent years, as products that avoid use of synthetics can make all-natural claims that appeal to consumer preferences.
While the European rosemary extract scene has a number of players geared towards meeting this demand, Kemin believes its new offering stands out from other offerings because it combines the rosemary extract with green tea extract.
Katrien Pardons, R&D manager for Europe, told FoodNavigator.com that rosemary has a distinct bitter flavour profile, but the low concentrations used in meats products mean there is no effect on the original taste.
Green tea, too, has its own distinct flavour, but when they are combined they actually neutralise each other, she said. This means the customer can increase the dosage to levels that would be unacceptable if each ingredient were used alone.
The main application for the blend, introduced first in the US last year, is in fresh red meats, but trials for more applications are underway.
Pardons said the technical benefits are two-fold: it has been seen to curb lipid oxidation in fresh meat; and to preserve the meat’s red colour.
Despite serving an antioxidant role, however, current European regulations mean the blend is being introduced as a flavour system. The safe use of high purity solvent rosemary extracts as antioxidants is going through the regulatory motions at the moment, and a positive opinion was given by the European Food Safety Authority last June.
Kemin believes the antioxidant activity of its rosemary extract will be included under the new allowance. The rosemary extract is produced through solvent extraction, and the green tea is water-soluble.
Kemin supplies both natural and synthetic ingredients. Alex Fink, marketing director, said these may be complementary in applications, and Kemin “wants to achieve the same level of efficacy in natural as in synthetic”.
Fink said that synthetic versions tend to be commodities, which means they are generally cheaper than natural alternatives – but it is hard to compare on a kg for kg basis as different quantities may be required to have the desired effect.
Generally speaking, he said “the natural route will probably be more expensive, but if the flavour system is what is preventing the product from being called natural, there are clear benefits”.
The blend has been called RGT Plus in the US, but Kemin is drawing up a new brand name for Europe and Asia, since it is significantly different from other offerings under its existing Fortium brand of natural antioxidants and extracts.
Although the official launch will take place later this year, Kemin is ready to start supplying European customers immediately. The blend can be made in Europe, but the rosemary extract hails from Kemin’s own cultivars in Texas and New Mexico, USA. It has a long-term relationship with a company in India which grows its green tea and carries out extraction.