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Arjuna enters food industry with natural food protection, colouring solutions
Date Published：12/20/2017 05:12:26 PM
ARJUNA Natural Extracts Ltd has been making a name in the nutraceutical industries for nearly 30 years now. As India’s leading manufacturer and exporter of standardised botanical extracts for these industries, the company’s herbal extracts have won awards and international patents, and continue to serve customers in 40 countries around the world. For the past many years, Arjuna has concentrated on the health supplement industry. It has recently opened a natural food protection division as part of efforts to enter the food industry.
According to Arjuna Executive Director Antony Kunjachan, as with all its products and markets, the company did not want to take the generic route as it ventures into the food industry. “We did not want to do generic oleoresins, spice powders or blends. We wanted to continue being innovative and develop products backed by science,” he said.
With the new division for natural food protection, Arjuna hopes to provide a complete solution for replacing chemical preservatives through the combination of anti-oxidants and anti-microbials.
“Our vision is to completely eliminate the need for chemical preservatives in food. We do not do a lot of generic products that everybody else does. What we try to do is to focus on delivering products that are completely natural patented supported with clinical studies and that can be clearly differentiated from the rest of the market,” he shared.
Working with natural food preservatives
The India-based company takes advantage of its many years of experience in and core knowledge of botanicals to transition smoothly to the food industry. But to make its indelible impression in the market, Arjuna acknowledges the value of keeping the ingredients entirely natural when formulating.
“Because natural preservatives are a very strong product, the biggest challenge in working with them is to master the flavour, the odour and other such inherent attributes that consumers would expect to experience with the finished product,” said Mr Kunjachan.
Arjuna has developed a specialised technology comprising different kinds of encapsulation and masking techniques to ensure that the flavour does not leak out. It has a chef and an application lab, with the chef working very closely with the development team to ensure the taste, flavour and odour are as they should be. The team conducts a lot of trials in-house to arrive at the right solution. To guarantee the product shelf life is stable and complies with the shelf life Arjuna commits to its clients, the company carries out shelf-life studies. It likewise pursues joint trials with customers to ensure product stability.
The company has likewise created its own set of standards to safeguard quality whilst factoring in time to market or quick turnaround times. It can, however, tailor a solution to customer requirements if necessary.
“With natural preservatives, the sale cycle is rather long because there’s a lot of testing that is involved before we can make changes to the product. But all is definitely worth it,” Mr Kunjachan said.
In addition to meeting natural food trends, Arjuna’s natural preservatives look to address increased consumer demand for clean label and food safety. The company combines anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-oxidant components isolated from different natural sources in creating new natural solutions for food products that boost both quality and shelf life but without compromising safety and sensory characteristics.
Arjuna’s natural food protection solutions comprise products for cakes, baked goods such as bread, and fruit juices and beverages. Arjuna also offers natural stabiliser for paprika oleoresin and natural food protection for frying oil, mayonnaise, and processed and raw meat products.
The company’s natural food colouring selection includes natural orange, yellow, red and green colours. The first is based on carotenoid or paprika oleoresin and ideal for confectionery, beverages, ice cream and seasonings, whilst the natural yellow uses curcuminoids. The natural red colour is based on beetroot extracts and the natural green colour is from chlorophyll extracts.
Natural botanical extracts are used for Arjuna's clean label preservatives (Photo courtesy: Arjuna)
Boosting company presence
For the past two decades that the company has been developing and manufacturing products, it has worked with various global distributors to market its solutions.
Arjuna feels the time is ripe to establish a direct presence in the market. It has very recently opened a sales office in Dallas, Texas. For its Europe market, Arjuna has set up another sales operation in Belgium, which it finds to be centrally located within Europe.
The company has also set its sights on Asia. It joined Fi Asia 2017 to study the market in line with its foray into the food industry.
“We think there is a huge interest in Asia with people wanting to shift away from chemicals and start anew with a completely natural food regimen. The kinds of inquiries we received during the show indicate a lot potential so we think we are here at the right time,” Mr Kunjachan shared.
With all ingredients used for its products being clean label, Arjuna does not expect roadblocks in penetrating Asian countries even with the lack of harmonised standards across nations. The company notes that its ingredients have been approved for use in food in most countries, which eliminates the need for new certification.
“In terms of healthful food and the range of products in this category, Asian countries are just picking up. They’re a little behind the American and European markets. But with the food industry itself in the region being very vibrant, we think it’s a fantastic market to be in,” he added.
Omega 3 leader
Arjuna prides itself in being the only manufacturer of Omega 3 fatty acids from marine sources in India. It has developed the technology for in-house manufacture, which has won a national award from the government of India.
“We have been supplying all major pharma companies within India. And so far nobody else has been able to create the technology to make highly purified Omega 3 in India. So we remain the only supplier,” he said.
Arjuna distributes the product to South Africa and the US as well.
The company uses the Indian sardine for its Omega 3 products. The Indian sardine lives in the upper layer of the ocean, which means less chances of contamination from ocean pollutants compared with fish living in deeper water parts. The Indian sardine likewise has a short life span and so has fewer accumulated toxins than fish with longer lives.
Besides being a clean source of the oil, the Indian sardine is very sustainable. India implements a fishing cycle for the fish that prohibits fishing for a period of three months from the breeding season.
To overcome the usual problem of smell and taste experienced with Omega 3, the company has developed a special process involving deodorising the oil to remove the fishy smell.
“One recent project we had with a customer involved creating Omega 3 products for children. To do this, we created an emulsion with our deodorised omega 3 fish oil and some flavours to make it more appealing to children,” Mr Kunjachan shared.
Among Arjuna's major products, the BCM-95 is a proprietary combination of curcuminoids and essential oil of turmeric-ar-turmerone (Photo courtesy: Arjuna)
Going strong with green
Arjuna’s strong thrust of natural ingredients and solutions is complemented only by sustainability efforts. It has, over the years, implemented Go Green initiatives company-wide, believing that being globally competitive means addressing environmental concerns that in the long term impact business success.
For one, the company uses a solar energy-powered plant for the manufacture of curcumin, making it the first company worldwide to produce turmeric extract using solar energy.
The company has installed enough solar panels to meet the energy needs of turmeric extract production. The solar plant saves the company more than 1,000 litres of diesel every day. Since establishing it two years ago at the Coimbatore manufacturing facility, the company has saved more than 800,000 units of electricity.
“Besides reducing overall costs, this is the company’s way of paying back to the environment,” according to Kunjachan.
Arjuna has likewise built an effluent treatment plant for managing and treating waste materials. This treatment plan adopts a multistage evaporation process to keep effluent discharge at zero and avoid harming the environment in the vicinity.
As part of its sustainable community development efforts, the company sources 20% of its total raw materials from local farmers. It has also been active in promoting sustainable farming and pricing.
Arjuna continues to work with tribal communities in various parts of India as it procures high-quality herbs and botanicals. In turn, the company helps these communities become self-sustaining.
The firm complements all these with sustained R&D efforts backed by partnerships with international universities in the US, Japan and Australia. Arjuna invests back in R&D 10% of its annual turnover. It also equips its advanced research facility with cutting-edge equipment for phytochemistry, pharmacokinetics, formulation, development and pre-clinical studies.