Targeting Generations X and Y with functional foods designed to maintain joint health

Chuck Ray
Chuck Ray
Technical Services Manager
Cargill Corn Milling North America

Joint concerns are on the rise with consumers across many age groups.  In fact, in the most recent Global Health & Wellness Trends report from Health Focus International (HFI), joint health is rated one of the top ten health concerns globally with 42% of respondents indicating that they were extremely or very concerned about joint health. The HFI report also said that awareness of and interest in glucosamine is high.  While usage today is mainly among older consumers, I believe that there is an opportunity for glucosamine to appeal to younger consumers who are interested in overall health and wellness, especially when it is incorporated into great tasting foods and beverages.

Why? A 2011 NMI Health & Wellness report said that Generation Xers and Yers believe in the benefits of functional foods, 59% of whom report using functional foods, and they say they are willing to pay a premium. Cargill can help incorporate glucosamine into functional foods and beverages targeted to Gen X and Y.

Furthermore, Cargill is currently supporting novel research at The Scripps Research Institute to better understand the science behind glucosamine’s role in joint health. Preliminary findings indicate that glucosamine may help to support healthy aging in the joints through the activation of autophagy, one of the main cellular “housekeeping” mechanisms. Autophagy is a critical mechanism in maintaining cellular health in joints and other tissues throughout the body. While more research is needed, initial results show that glucosamine activates autophagy in cell culture and animal models.  

This emerging pre-clinical research is helping us understand how glucosamine may play a role in maintaining healthy joints and suggests that Cargill’s Regenasure® glucosamine may be a great solution to incorporate as an ingredient in functional foods and beverages targeted to the 131 million Generation X and Y consumers.

Cargill's Regenasure glucosamine stands apart from other brands for several reasons. First, it is Generally Recognized As Safe (self-affirmed GRAS) for use in specific food and beverage categories. Because it's not derived from shellfish, it's vegetarian, nonallergenic and certified Halal, kosher pareve and kosher for Passover.

Additionally, as the only western producer of glucosamine, Cargill uses its own patented fermentation method to produce its product in a plant in Iowa—ensuring excellent quality control. Cargill began producing Regenasure glucosamine commercially in 2003 for use in both food and beverage applications and dietary supplements. It's now found in gummies and chews, Joint Juice’s drink product, The Elations Company’s Elations® dietary drinks, as well as gel shots, flavored water drinks and powdered milk products. We've also developed prototypes featuring Regenasure glucosamine including a granola bar, yogurt, smoothies and sports beverages.

Regenasure glucosamine is soluble and works best in applications with a pH less than 4.5. It’s most compatible with fruity flavors such as citrus. To make it convenient to get the suggested 1,500 mg of glucosamine daily, we usually work closely with customers to formulate at 500 to 1,500 mg a serving. Other than adjustments to flavor, the addition of Regenasure glucosamine doesn't typically require formulation changes.

Generations X and Y tend to be very proactive when it comes to their health and are interested in using functional foods to help maintain a healthy lifestyle. You can count on our technical experts to help you incorporate glucosamine into your food or beverage products for the millions of consumers interested in joint health.

Chuck Ray is a Technical Services Manager at Cargill Corn Milling North America. He has been with Cargill for all 19 of his years in the industry.