Whether supplying nutraceutical professionals looking for solutions using natural ingredients or food manufacturers, Natural Origins is committed to finding the right solution for each of its customers' projects. This expertise is based on the capabilities of our teams and our laboratory's own R&D facilities. Lucas Varotto, R&D Project Manager, would like to give you an overview of the situation.
The role of Natural Origins R&D
The mission of our R&D laboratory is to carry out new developments, both in response to customer briefs and for internal requirements linked to new product designs.
Specialised teams will develop blends, powders or botanical extracts in the laboratory, so that the processes required for industrial production can be calibrated as accurately as possible.
Our customers can turn to us with two different requests:
- either reuse an existing formulation, making it more tasty, natural or colourful, with a health claim depending on the target objective. - or create a new product from scratch in accordance with the specifications.
In the case of a commercial request for an existing formulation with a sample provided by a customer, our laboratory will use the following development steps:
Analysis of the sample and taking into account the associated technical data sheet,
Counter-typing to reproduce the desired product in terms of taste and appearance,
Research and sourcing of the botanical for the formulation in order to meet the specific specifications and criteria defined by the customer (colour, taste, health claims and specific active for nutraceuticals),
Laboratory teststo analyse the behaviour of the botanical during this process and to adapt it as best we can to restore all its characteristics on an industrial scale.
Depending on the botanical's intended end use, the type of process is adjusted to the customer's specific requirements. This includes criteria such as colour, taste and particular active properties (for example, lemon balm may be required for its rosmarinic acid or valerian for its valerenic acid content, etc.), which our laboratory reproduces in its powder or liquid formulation.
"The more information we have on the desired end application, the easier it will be for our team to consider the best extraction technique, as each finished product requires a different process." - Lucas Varotto, Natural Origins R&D Project manager
As part of the creation of a brand-new product, specifications will be defined and steps 3 and 4 will be carried out.
In this sense, our job is to "mimic the industrialist" in order to get as close as possible to a formulation specific to a finished product, while at the same time having a flavourist's notion of the taste aspect.
The "sourcing" dimension: Natural Origins' unique expertise for product development
The added value of our R&D department lies in its proximity to our sourcing department, so that we can always find the best botanical to match the organoleptic qualities (taste, colour, etc.) and/or health claims we are looking for...
If a referenced botanical does not meet the defined criteria, we have to resort to new sourcing in collaboration with our purchasing team, then study its extraction behaviour and propose a solution based on this new botanical ingredient.
"For example, a major European food manufacturer asked us to supply a maté extract with a high caffeine content for one of its beverage applications. Our search for maté leaves focused on several sourcing areas in Latin America in order to find the right botanical ingredient, then test it in the laboratory and check its extract content, which turned out to be excellent."
"For a stakeholder in reconstituted beverages looking for a more aromatic and natural product, we carried out exclusive sourcing of a French organic blackcurrant, in order to guarantee exemplary organoleptic properties while meeting extraction quality specifications".
A sensory approach
As part of our R&D approach, we are also focusing on the sensory evaluation of our various formulations. The aim is to be at the cutting edge of botanical characterisation by setting up in-house panels where all Natural Origins employees can be involved in each project. In the long term, we are going to create a dedicated centre for taste and sensoriality, involving R&D and quality control, so that we can identify as precisely as possible the specific characteristics of our botanical ingredients.