Ginger Set to Become the Next Big Digestive-Health Ingredient, Companies Say at Natural Products Expo West 2018

March 20, 2018

As demand for ginger in the digestive-health category grows, companies like OmniActive and Naturex say that the ingredient could see the same kind of sales growth as fellow trending botanical turmeric.

Innovative ginger ingredients formulated for promising new applications in digestive health featured prominently at last week’s Natural Product Expo West trade show in Anaheim, CA. With interest in the digestive-health market showing no sign of abating, companies like OmniActive Health Technologies (Morristown, NJ) and Naturex (Avignon, France) say that ginger-with its associated digestive, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant benefits-will continue to grow its share of the digestive-health category. In fact, according to the two suppliers, while it’s no secret that turmeric is the rising star of the botanical market, ginger may soon be poised to steal the botanical spotlight.

Brian Appell, marketing manager, OmniActive, told Nutritional Outlook: “Turmeric continues to grow, but I think we’re getting to a point where people are asking, ‘What’s the next turmeric product? What can be a superstar like turmeric, do all the great things that turmeric potentially does, but isn’t a novel ingredient that’s going to take years to develop?’ That’s where ginger comes in.” He said that while turmeric is still seeing success, consumer familiarity with ginger as a digestive-health ingredient, as well as mounting research affirming its potential health benefits, makes it a botanical to watch.

There’s no doubt that the natural products industry has seen a resurgence of “back-to-basics” ingredients in recent years, with consumers embracing traditional botanicals. But company representatives from both OmniActive and Naturex stressed that it’s not enough to rely on the conventional wisdom about ginger’s health benefits. According to Appell, the growing research effort behind ginger will set the ingredient and its sales on a “trajectory that is very similar to turmeric. There’s a lot of research coming out showing that it has very similar properties to turmeric. They’re in the same family.”

Timothée Olagne, nutraceutical category vice president, Naturex, noted that Naturex is currently running clinical studies showing ginger’s benefits for gut health and beyond. Last year, the company collaborated with India-based ingredient supplier Olene to bring its Gingest ginger powder ingredient to market. Olagne told Nutritional Outlook that with the company’s new Gingest ingredient, Naturex is hoping to “play on [an ingredient] the consumer knows, and add science to back it up.”

Gingest, he explained, is formulated using Olene’s patented Aqueosome technology that makes it possible to obtain ginger oleoresin powder while retaining a high level of standardization of active compounds, sans carriers. This technology, he said, yields high concentrations of the key active ingredients in ginger, resulting in the need for fewer capsules. He added that Gingest is easy to formulate across multiple applications. 

OmniActive officially launched its own high-potency ginger extract ingredient, Gingever, at Natural Product Expo West. “We did a soft launch last year just to get a feel for how people would receive it, and [the response] was strong,” said Appell. 

According to OmniActive, its Gingever ingredient contains 30% bioactives and a minimum of 25% gingerols. Appell explained that Gingever’s high concentration of gingerols means that a clinically relevant dosage of just 60 mg-100 mg is needed to reap the ingredient’s health benefits. “So, from a consumer’s perspective, you don’t have to take multiple pills. You can take one small pill and get the same benefit as 1000 mg [of ginger extract].”

Both Appell and Olagne said that the companies’ ginger ingredients, supported by new research, will open doors for innovative applications in food and beverages. And there is one key difference between ginger and turmeric that can make formulating food and beverage products with ginger easier.

Said Olagne: “Ginger has a specific taste, so it goes easier into food. Some people don’t like it, but the vast majority of American consumers do.” Another benefit of formulating with ginger, added OmniActive’s Appell, is “that nice, warm feeling” associated with ginger consumption. He added that OmniActive has developed gummies, jellies, and stick packs featuring Gingever, in addition to category mainstays like capsules and tablets, but he noted that ginger’s real potential lies in its applications where its experiential attributes can really shine.