Best of 2012 Ingredient Supplier: LycoRed

December 7, 2012

This year’s achievements include a new line of natural colors.

LycoRed, which specializes in carotenoids, vitamins, minerals, and specialty ingredients for dietary supplementation, food fortification, coloring, and flavor enhancement, made significant advances this year. One of the company’s exciting achievements, in January, was the launch of its natural, stable red and orange colors for fruit preparations.

Thanks to their non-migrating properties, the colors won’t bleed, making them perfect for use in many types of yogurts, smoothies, desserts, and other dairy products that contain layers of colorful fruit. (Also in January, the company announced it now provides a carmine alternative for surimi coloring that is derived from tomato lycopene. Carmine is widely used for red coloring in food and confectionery.) In addition to being natural and vegetarian, the colors are extracted from carotenoids, which offer antioxidant benefits, to boot. The reds are from tomato lycopene (LycoRed’s Tomat-O-Red formulation), while the oranges and yellows are Lyc-O-Beta beta-carotene formulations.

When using natural colors, maintaining stability during processing and throughout a product’s shelf life are often major challenges. Stability in pH, light, temperature, and oxidation are all common issues. But LycoRed says its colors exhibit outstanding stability.

Colors aside, the company made other moves this year as well. In July, it acquired Ukraine-based Vitan Ltd., which uniquely uses fermentation and an industrial microorganism, Blakeslea trispora fungus, to create natural beta-carotene and other carotenoid biomass. “Vitan will add value to LycoRed, providing us unique access to sourcing and improving our ability to compete in the natural carotenoids global marketplace,” says Morris Zelkha, president and CEO, LycoRed.

As for the company’s flagship ingredient, Lyc-O-Mato tomato lycopene complex, there have been major developments as well. Patents are important for protecting LycoRed’s specialized ingredients and formulations, so the company continually strives to obtain new patents in an effort to stay ahead of the competition and build new applications. To date, LycoRed is the owner of more than 20 patents, covering a list of solutions to major physical conditions, including heart health, skin protection, bone health, DNA-related damage, eye health, and more. This June, the company secured a European patent for its extraction and processing method for red, ripe tomatoes, which yields an oleoresin that contains health-protective antioxidants, including lycopene, beta-carotene, phytoene, phytofluene, and tocopherols. The company says this complete complex of natural tomato carotenoids differentiates the ingredient from other competing ingredients. This extraction and processing technique is also the basis for Novel Food approval (2009/355/EC) and an E number for food additive use. LycoRed holds similar patents in the United States, where the ingredient is GRAS affirmed and approved as a color additive.

“Patents are always the end goal of our research,” says Zelkha. “They allow us to differentiate our products from our competitors’, giving us an edge above all others on the market.”

When marketing natural food ingredients worldwide, as LycoRed does, there will always be a few unique issues. “There are formulation challenges, as well as hurdles to overcome from a nutrition standpoint in order to meet the requirements of the food industry. Plus, each country has different standards that must be met,” Zelkha says.

Global challenges haven’t hindered LycoRed’s worldwide growth, however. Sales of Lyc-O-Mato in Japan increased dramatically over the past few years. LycoRed held its 9th annual seminar in October in Tokyo, where it presented new health findings linking its natural tomato lycopene complex with vascular health. In September, LycoRed solidified a multimillion-dollar deal with a leading distributor in Asia, Shanghai Lithy Foods Material Company, Ltd.

Zelkha is setting his sights high for the Asia market, saying, “We hope to strengthen LycoRed’s position in Asia and soon employ extensive distribution services inside the Chinese market.”