Wellness Foods Readers' Choice Awards: Win-Win Situation
Our readers have answered the challenge and made their choices. We present our third annual Readers’ Choice Awards for the best suppliers of nutritional ingredients.
By David Feder, R.D., Editor
Here are the categories we presented for your appraisal, followed by the results. Calcium, Fiber, Inulin, Lutein, Lycopene, Omega Oils, Polyphenols/Green Tea Extracts/Plant Sterols, Soy, Vitamins/Antioxidants and Whey Protein. You’ll notice some new ingredients were added: polyphenols/tea extracts/plant sterols is one new category and antioxidants were added to the vitamin category.
Categories are based on ingredients featured in our editorial lineup, and no ingredient or category is meant in any way as an endorsement of a particular manufacturer.
In the interest of objectivity and simplicity the survey was short, and in the interest of fairness we did not define the designation of “best.” Best was what you, the individual voters, deemed it to be. We assume the ideals of efficacy, service, availability and cost were considered on your part, but all in all, best was what was best for you. These are your choices, through and through.
In calculating the winners, we determined a difference of 2 percent or less to be a statistical tie. This year we also limited categories to first- or second-place winners. In the event of a first-place tie, there was no second-place winner.
For the third-place winners — and also for all those who had a good showing but shared too many votes among all the great companies — we hope you’ll take the words of the late, great Vince Lombardi to heart: “Winning isn't everything, but the will to win is everything.” Keep up the good work; there’s always next year!
Winner: Purac America Inc., Lincolnshire, Ill. (11%)
- Ashland/Mitsubishi Cos. (Dublin, Ohio (5%)
- Specialty Minerals Inc., Bethlehem, Pa. (5%)
Calcium has gained a lot of attention for its possible role in helping to combat obesity and heart disease, and Purac America Inc. (www.purac.com) — our readers’ number one choice for the mineral — has gained a lot of attention for its calcium. Tying for the red ribbon are Specialty Minerals Inc. (www.mineralstech.com), maker of a number of precipitated calcium carbonates, and Ashland Chemical Co., which sold its calcium division last year to the Mitsubishi Cos. (www.mitsubishi.com).
- International Fiber, North Tonawanda, N.Y. (8%)
- SunOpta, Bedford, Mass. (8%)
Fiber was a tough category, well divided among a number of great companies, but two — International Fiber Corp. (www.ifcfiber.com) and SunOpta Ingredients Inc. (www.sunopta.com) — squeaked ahead of the rest to tie for first place. IFC offers a variety of multi-functional fibers including a number under the JustFiber name. Sun Opta is the world’s leading supplier of oat fiber for the food industry and markets the Canadian Harvest Oat Fiber family of insoluble fiber products.
- Cargill Health and Food Technologies Inc., Minneapolis (16%)
- Sensus America, Monmouth Junction, N.J. (14%)
Cargill‘s (www.cargill.com) Oliggo-Fiber inulin shares a statistical first-place win with Sensus America. Inulin, made from chicory, adds nutritional value while improving taste and texture. Research suggests inulin can help increase calcium absorption and contribute to digestive health. In foods and beverages, inulin can be used as a fat replacer to reduce calories while adding texture and improving mouthfeel.
Sensus America (www.cosun.com), a manufacturer of natural foods and ingredients, produces and markets Frutafit and Frutalose inulin/fructo oligosaccharides for the international food industry.
Winner: Kemin Foods, Des Moines, Iowa (10%)
- BASF Corp., Florham Park, N.J.; (6%)
- DSM Nutritional Products, Parsippany, N.J. (6%)
Lutein is a carotenoid compound critical to eye health. This year, Kemin (www.kemin.com) continues its lutein winning streak with its FloraGlo brand lutein. This powerful antioxidant, used in food and beverage applications as well as vitamin and dietary supplements, too, is derived from a species of high-lutein marigolds cultivated in Thailand.
BASF’s (www.basf.com) Lutein 5% DC powder consists of natural lutein finely dispersed in a matrix of gelatin and sucrose coated with native starch. The product also contains the antioxidants tocopherol, sodium ascorbate and ascorbyl palmitate.
DSM (www.nutraaccess.com) was the first company to synthesize commercial quantities of carotenoids such as lutein and zeaxanthin, starting more than half a century ago with beta-carotene. Today, DSM produces carotenoids that are nature-identical, having chemical structures and properties indistinguishable from carotenoids found in plants or animals.
- LycoRed Natural Products, La Crosse, Wis. (12%)
- DSM Nutritional Products, Parsippany, N.J. (12%)
This year, LycoRed’s (www.lycored.com) Lycomato brand of naturally derived lycopene shares its first-place position for best lycopene supplier with DSM. The tomato-derived phytonutrient, known for its ability to help prevent certain types of cancer, especially prostate cancer, has seen an increase in studies supporting its healthful benefits. Lycomato is derived from an Israeli-developed variety of hearty, high-lycopene tomatoes and is used to enhance beverages and condiments without affecting flavor.DSM (www.dsm.com) points out that research suggests the compound may also prevent oxidation of low-density lipoproteins (LDL cholesterol), and thus atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease. The company developed its Redivivo brand of lycopene for use in food and beverage formulations.
Category: Omega-3 Oils
Winner: Omega Protein Corp., Houston (14%)
- Ocean Nutrition Corp., Dartmouth, Nova Scotia (8%)
- DSM Nutritional Products, Parsippany, N.J. (8%)
First-place winner Omega Protein (www.omegaproteininc.com) is the world's largest manufacturer of fish-oil derived Omega-3 essential fatty acids. The healthy oils are known to help cardiovascular health and also have been studied for their beneficial effects on fetal nerve and brain development, memory, depression and immunity (see cover story, "Target: Immunity").
Tying for second are the Canadian company Ocean Nutrition Corp. (www.ocean-nutrition.com) and DSM.
Category: Polyphenols / Green Tea Extracts / Plant Sterols
- ADM Corp., Decatur, Ill. (6%)
- Cargill Health and Food Technologies Inc., Minneapolis (6%)
Readers responded strongly to our new category of polyphenolic compounds, tea extracts and plant sterols. So much so that voting was spread out among a number of great suppliers, yielding a tie in which the winners garnered a scant 6 percent each of total votes.
ADM (www.admworld.com) won for its CardioAid brand of phytosterols and sterol esters, and Cargill (www.cargill.com) for its CoroWise plant sterols, which made a big splash a little over a year ago in Minute Maid Premium Heart Wise orange juice.
Winner: ADM Corp., Decatur, Ill. (31%)
Second: The Solae Co., St. Louis (25%)
Soy is the big dog on the block when it comes to wellness ingredients, and agriculture giant ADM, with nearly one third of the total votes, was a clear winner in the soy category. The company boasts one of the broadest lines of soy products, offering both conventional and non-GM soy as well as USDA organic whole soybean proteins.
Solae (www.solae.com) is an alliance of two industry megastars, DuPont and Bunge International. Solae is a leader in developing multiple lines of soy products, including soy protein, soy isolates, defatted soy flakes and soy oil, allowing it to capture a quarter of the votes for an easy second-place win.
Category: Vitamins and antioxidants
Winner: DSM Nutritional Products, Parsippany, N.J. (25%)
- Watson Foods Co., West Haven, Conn. (8%)
- Fortitech Inc., Schenectady, N.Y. (7%)
- BASF Corp., Florham Park, N.J.; (6%)
With DSM’s (www.nutraaccess.com) purchase of vitamin giant Roche, plus its own long history of leadership in vitamin and antioxidant product development, it seems only natural it would capture the most votes in this category. Watson Foods (www.watsonfoods.com), provider of every type of food ingredient from emulsifiers to mixes, additives to enzymes; BASF (www.basf.com), a major supplier of vitamins for flour fortification as well as vitamin, amino acid, and carotenoid powders; and fortification experts Fortitech (www.fortitech.com), who provide products for boosting the nutritional value of everything from baby formulas and sports drinks to breakfast cereals and energy bars, all joined together in a three-way tie for second place.
Category: Whey Protein
- Davisco Foods Inc., Eden Prairie, Minn. (11%)
- Leprino Foods Co., Denver (9%)
Whey winner Davisco (www.daviscofoods.com) is a major innovator of proteins and nutraceutical compounds derived from dairy. Its new Bi-Pro whey protein isolate is produced through a selective ion exchange process and boasts the highest reported Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid score. Also in the winner’s circle through a statistical tie is Leprino Foods Co. (www.leprinofoods.com). The company is the largest U.S. exporter of whey products, as well as the largest supplier of pizza cheese products. Leprino’s premium mozzarella cheese is the uniform source of high-quality sweet whey and whey proteins.