ASIA October 2019
 
Wacker ranks Asia as its 3rd biggest market for its Biosolutions Division
 
AFBR has the opportunity to interview Heiko Zipp, Director for Business Team Nutrition at Wacker Chemie AG to find out more on the company’s plan for the region, as well as his insights on the future for food and beverages in this region. The following are excerpts from the interview:

How important is the Asian region to Wacker Biosolutions Division?
Asia is an important and growing market for Wacker, contributing 35% of group sales making it the 2nd largest market, whereas for its Biosolutions Division that handles food and beverage ingredients, Asia is ranked 3rd and is also a rapidly growing region taking up 20% of the division sales of €227 million (US$253 million).
In addition, Asia is a region with growing population and rapid economic development. Demand for food products is also on the rise, and it also develops its own unique trends. For example, China has evolved to become one of the biggest markets for dietary supplements, traditional medicine and chewing gum. In India, vegetarians make up over one third of the population. And in Southeast Asia, the roughly 40% Muslim population needs Halal-certified food products. Wacker sees a lot of potential for its portfolio of cyclodextrins, cysteine and solid resins for gumbase in the region.
Infrastructure-wise, Wacker has its own laboratory for food ingredients and dietary supplements at its regional headquarter in Singapore since late 2016 and it has also recently opened another new lab in Shanghai, China this year to offer tailor-made food solutions for its customers in Asia.

With the growing plant-based movement, does Wacker have a part to play in this segment in Asia ?
Consumers today are paying more and more attention to the origins and ingredients of food products. There is clearly an ever-growing trend towards avoidance of fat, sugar, cholesterol, and allergen-free ingredients.
At this year’s FI Asia, Wacker focuses on several key topics: First of all, it showcases its vegetarian-grade cyclodextrins (CAVAMAX®) and vegan cysteine (FERMOPURE®) for high-quality free-from solutions: Our cyclodextrins offer impressive stabilising properties and thus enable dispensing with animal-based proteins as an emulsifier. Thus, it is possible to replace egg in diverse bakery or dessert products, or other animal-based proteins in mayonnaise or salad dressings.
In Asia, especially, coconut-milk powder is often used when cooking as it is very convenient to use on top of providing that unique ethnic flavor to Asian dishes. However, in many coconut-milk powder products, manufacturers often add sodium caseinate to produce a stable, creamy-milky product after addition of water – and caseinate is based on milk (animal-based) as raw material. Wacker offers a purely vegetarian-grade alternative to caseinate in coconut-milk powders – which not only saves costs, but also enhances product properties.
In bakery applications, the amino acid cysteine is often used as a dough softener and to increase the volume. Yet, many manufacturers extract cysteine from human or animal sources such as hair, feathers or pig bristles with the aid of hydrochloric acid. Wacker’s L-cysteine however is based on starch fermentation and manufactured from purely plant-based and inorganic starting materials, so it is free from animal- or human-based raw materials.
Meanwhile, Wacker’s cyclodextrins also enable food manufacturers to get rid of undesired flavor or taste, as they can mask unwanted odors, while at the same time stabilising or protecting those they want to enhance.

Are there any latest product/ingredient launches by Wacker which will attract significant interest by F&B industry players in this region?
We are seeing an increasing demand for healthy or health-promoting dietary supplements globally and in Asia. It is common knowledge that having enough fresh fish, fruits, vegetables and especially olive oil can help keep our mind and body in good shape. These foods contain plant secondary metabolites, a category of substances that includes a much sought-after antioxidant called ‘hydroxytyrosol’. Although hydroxytyrosol is already available in the market as an ingredient in dietary supplements, it is both labor- and cost- intensive to extract it traditionally from olives and olive leaves. The end product is likely to contain unknown substances and impurities. As such, the use of hydroxytyrosol in food solutions was, until recently, limited. Wacker has now successfully developed a nature-identical version of hydroxytyrosol, marketed under HTEssence®, via a new, patented synthesis route. This process improves purity with no unwanted byproducts or contaminants, allowing the active ingredient to be highly concentrated and suitable for use in functional foods and dietary supplements, such as tablets, capsules, energy bars and functional beverages.
A recent human clinical study demonstrated that our HTEssence®, which is a much purer hydroxytyrosol than what is available in the market today, can significantly reduce LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol and thus lower the risk of coronary heart diseases. With the rising trend towards healthier lifestyle and disease prevention, hydroxytyrosol is seeing rapid growth in market demand and will open up entirely new possibilities for manufacturers of nutritional supplements.
Another recent trend that we are seeing today in Asia is the increase in dietary supplements with skin-lightening claims. HTEssence® has a clinically proven skin-brightening effect which is comparable with vitamin C and ?-arbutin.

What does Wacker foresee the future direction of the F&B industry in Asia, and how can it be part of this future growth?
Wacker identifies growing health and fitness trend as a global phenomenon which also affects Asia. A growing number of consumers are adopting a healthier lifestyle and turn increasingly to sports. Dietary supplements consumers are also now desiring to consume food that are both healthy and tasty. For example, food supplement nowadays will not always be in capsule format but also can be turned into tasty beverages, candies or snack bar formats. We definitely see a lot of potential for our portfolio of plant-based cyclodextrins and cysteine as food and nutrition ingredients in this region.
Demand for health-promoting dietary supplements has risen considerably due to aging population, higher obesity rates and better health awareness. There are rising health concerns over diabetes, chronic lifestyle and cardiovascular diseases, and as such, functional food solutions with positive benefits are thus getting more popular, especially natural active ingredients that have the potential to prevent certain diseases or slow the aging process.
However, many promising substances are difficult to process in food production or difficult for the human body to absorb. As a result, solutions to increase the bioavailability of an ingredient such as our cyclodextrins are more and more sought after. Another good example here is curcumin, a powerful anti-oxidant with anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and hypoallergenic properties.
The problem is that curcumin is very hydrophobic and thus normally not readily absorbed in the human blood stream. However, Wacker has developed a solution that considerably enhances the dispersibility and consequently, the bioavailability of curcumin by means of encapsulation in cyclodextrins. A clinical study that was published in the renowned European Journal of Nutrition confirms that the bioavailability of our complexed curcumin can be increased significantly – by a factor of 40 compared to conventional curcumin extract.

The efficacy of Wacker ingredients solutions for the F&B industry has resulted in ongoing successful food and nutraceutical projects with regional companies particularly in the area of Coconut Milk Powder and Infant Nutrition application in countries like Malaysia, India, Philippines and Thailand.
 
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