The Shengdu-based company is present in food, supplements, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals markets with a number of its herbal extracts but to date has aimed its flax offerings at dietary supplements markets. Now that it has been granted patents for its 100 percent water soluble flax version, the time was right to move into the food area, the company said. It would continue developing its presence in supplements markets globally. Food focus "The supplements area has been the prime focus for AlaLife for many years but this patent will allow us to broaden our reach," sales manager, Calvin Zhou, told NutraIngredients-usa.com. Food formulation hurdles remained, he said, not to mention the small matter of gaining attention in an increasingly crowded market place as demand for ALA (alpha linolenic acid)-rich flax soars due to its omega-3, antioxidant and whole grain capacity. "We still have a lot of work to do to break into the foods and beverages sectors, as well as developing our marketing strategies to food and beverage manufacturers and win their trust," he said. "It's a great challenge." Antioxidant potential, women's health and weight management would be the primary focus, he said. The patent on AlaLife, which was launched last year, would allow the company to provide better technical support to its customers, it said. Zhou said North America was Biogin's strongest market followed by the UK, Germany, France and Poland. Benefits Flaxseed is one of the best sources of vegetarian omega-3, which has been studied for its role in heart, immune, skin and joint health. Dietary lignan has been linked to reduced risk of breast and prostate cancers and hair loss. SDG (Secoisolariciresinol Diglucoside) is the main lignan found in flax and is said to benefit prostate, cardiovascular, colon and breast tissue health. The move follows last week's US launch of a 40 percent SDG flax ingredient by fellow Chinese supplier, Cactus Botanics. Other major flax suppliers include Pizzey's Nutritionals (bought by Glanbia in 2007) ADM and Frutarom. Water soluble Zhou said AlaLife's uniqueness lay in the fact it is 100 per cent water soluble and, now, protected by process and composition patents. Alalife flax lignans are mainly extracted by water, said the company, thereby keeping the lignan in its natural state. The company wouldn't reveal its pricing structures in regard to the new ingredient. Zhou said the Chinese domestic market was growing "day-by-day" and had been a contributing factor in Biogin boosting flax production. "Lignan products get more and more attention here in China and so sales are growing quickly for flax products," he said. Biogin was established in 1995 to market herbal products including Traditional Chinese Medicines (TCM) and has three GMP-certified factories in China with an annual production capacity of more than 3000 tons.