Previously the company held one patent for Betapol – a palm oil fat widely used in infant formulas especially in Asia and Europe – but new technologies and manufacturing processes prompted patent applications back in 2006 and 2007.
The 17 patents have been approved in European and other patent offices and verified by the International Patent Office (IPO). Betapol is manufactured in Malaysian and Dutch facilities and four further patents are pending.
“We as a company continually try to improve and protect our processes and that is what these patents represent,” Dr Ulrike Schmid, the company’s global IP and regulatory manager and European patent attorney, told us.
“These patents affirm that we are using the most novel processes and the quality of our ingredient.”
The patents cover processes, applications and health effects for the enzyme processed fat that is sourced from IOI’s Malaysian palm plantations – of which about 80% are certified sustainable.
Marketing manager, Jan-Paul Back, said the company had a target to certify all its plantations by the end of the year, along with European deliveries.
Betapol, first launched in 1994, was previously administered by Loders Croklaan subsidiary Lipid Nutrition, but came directly under the main company when Lipid Nutrition was sold to US firm, Stepan in 2011.
The main rival in the space is Israeli player, Enzymotec.
Back said Betapol was used by, “many large infant formula producers in the world”, but was less popular in the US where there is a preference for medium chain triglycerides (MCTs).
Betapol is marketed as having a, “special triglyceride structure that matches the one found in mother’s milk very closely.”
Studies in animals and newborn babies have shown the fatty acids in Betapol – including palmitic acid – improve the absorption of dietary calcium and reduces the amount of calcium lost in the stools, leading to greater bone mineral density.
In a statement Schmid added: “We take the concept and practice of patenting very seriously, because we believe that, by protecting our product ideas, we increase our customers’ chances of success with their own products."