Ingredients that provide either a slow, steady release of glucose or a quick hit of energy and hydration have made their mark in the specialised nutrition segment, which includes sports nutrition, weight management, early life nutrition and medical nutrition.
While Roquette still sees growing demand for its energy management ingredients for specialised nutrition, Eva Esparza Guijarro, Marketing Manager Europe, said:
"We are also seeing more and more interest in other segments like active lifestyles and healthy ageing. It is not only related to sports people anymore. Everyone is looking for energy for their daily life."
Roquette is not alone in noting the trend. According to Innova Market Insights, between 2015 and 2019 sports nutrition launches tracked with an energy/alertness claim saw annual growth 27% globally.
Application-wise, it is not just about pre-workout powders anymore, either.
"Energy is moving toward mainstream consumers with developments in RTD drinks and bar formats," observed Innova in a recent report.
Boosting energy in different ways
Roquette's energy management portfolio consists of three ingredients: Pea Starch LN30, NUTRIOSE® soluble fiber, and GLUCIDEX® maltodextrin and dried glucose syrups.
"With these three solutions, we respond to energy management needs in different ways," said Eva Esparza.
Pea starch LN30, launched earlier this year, is a slow digestible pea starch, she explained. This means it releases glucose slowly, with a low glycaemic response.
This is ideal for marathon runners who need sustained energy but no peaks of insulin. Also 'e-sports ' – video games – are more popular than ever, particularly since Covid-19 lockdowns around the world.
"These new kinds of consumers are looking for energy because they are using their brains to play. The slow-release of glucose into the blood helps them to stay mentally alert."
Another prime target for products with Roquette pea starch is active people who need a snack to keep them going. A bar containing Pea starch LN30 soluble fiber is preferable to a sugary snack because it avoids an insulin peak, which stimulates muscular cells to absorb glucose but also fat cells where glucose will be converted and stored as fat.
NUTRIOSE® soluble fiber, meanwhile, is a prebiotic obtained from corn, wheat, or pea. Prebiotics are fermented by bacteria in the colon into short chain fatty acids which improve gut function and boost mental energy.
Finally, Roquette's GLUCIDEX® plant-based maltodextrin and dried glucose syrups is a range of soluble polysaccharides. Unlike Pea starch LN30 and NUTRIOSE®, GLUCIDEX® is rapidly absorbed in the upper part of the gastrointestinal tract. It provides readily available glucose and hydration, making it ideal for use in flavoured isotonic drinks for consumption before or after exercise, as well as a range of other applications.
Roquette works closely with its customers over product development, providing concepts as inspiration and testing out its ingredients in different recipes.
One such concept is a low GI recovery powder shake, which contains both Pea starch LN30 and NUTRIOSE® soluble fiber, as well as NUTRALYS® Pea Protein which helps to promote muscle recovery and satiety. This combination gives the potential to make 'source of fiber' and 'high in protein' claims on finished products (subject to regulatory approval).
Eva Esparza said the three ingredients could also be used together in breakfast drinks.
"We see more and more of that kind of product in the market because people with active lifestyle don't always have time for breakfast."
NUTRIOSE® soluble fiber has been in the market for some time, and Roquette's regular customers are well aware of its versatility; for instance, it can be used in ice cream, powdered milk, bars, beverages, bakery and confectionery.
For newly launched Pea starch LN30, Eva Esparza said "the first feedback has been really positive," even if the arrival of Covid-19 presented some challenges to usual face-to-face collaborations earlier this year.
"Fortunately, we have very good relationships with our customers, so we were able to keep in touch virtually, send samples, and follow up on customers' trials," she said. "Now, we are getting back to normal activity using digital tools."