We also have our weekly look at the global dairy markets with Liam Fenton from INTL FCStone.
ADM supports clinical trial into effects of probiotic supplements for COVID-19 patients in hospital care
ADM and Hospital de Sagunto, one of the largest medical centers in the Valencia region of Spain have partnered on a clinical trial into the effects of using a food supplement containing live microbial strains to promote gut microbiome balance and help improve health functions related to outcomes for COVID-19 patients in high-risk groups.
In March Dr Xavier Cortés, gastroenterologist at Hospital de Sagunto, communicated with medical staff in China who had observed that many COVID-19 patients had exhibited abnormal changes in their gut microbiome.
The reports indicated a significant percentage of infected people experienced gastrointestinal problems in the early stages of the illness, similar to the trend he was observing in Spain. This trend is particularly prevalent in elderly patients, who tend to have lower levels of beneficial bifidobacterial content in their gut microbiome.
Following his assessment, a decision was made that an interventional trial should be conducted to evaluate the effects of providing standard medication to elderly COVID- 19 patients, along with a live microbial supplement to help support gut health and immune function. Dr Cortés contacted ADM’s scientific team for advice on the most potentially suitable live microbial strains to use during the trial, and to invite the team to collaborate with Hospital de Sagunto in the design of the clinical trial.
Gasteel Plus, a live microbial probiotic-based food supplement marketed by Laboratorios Heel España, S.A.U. and formulated using ADM probiotic strains, as well as essential nutrients vitamin D, selenium and zinc, was selected in this interventional trial.
The product has been administered to patients with COVID-19 symptoms, as well as to healthcare personnel at the hospital who fall into high-risk groups (the over 60s or those with chronic diseases), at Hospital de Sagunto, to strengthen their gut microbiota.
The three ADM probiotic strains contained in Gasteel Plus, namely Bifidobacterium longum CECT7347, Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis CECT9950 and Lactobacillus rhamnosus CNCM-I4036, as well as essential nutrients vitamin D, selenium and zinc, have been shown in pre-clinical studies to exert anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and other immune-supporting effects.
“Thanks to the common efforts of three teams from the Hospital de Sagunto, Heel Laboratories and ADM Biopolis, we were able to start the trial at the end of March and we are discovering innovative solutions to challenging health and wellness concerns,” said Francisco Climent, ADM’s health & wellness managing director, EMEAI.
“More than 75 patients admitted to the hospital with COVID-19 have already been enrolled in the trial, and are giving regular blood, stool, urine and nasopharyngeal exudate samples to measure changes in immune parameters and other factors such as viral load,” Cortés said.
“Using these indicators, we will assess the efficacy of Gasteel Plus as an adjunct solution to support the health of the elderly population, who are especially vulnerable to this viral infection.”
Climent said, “In the coming weeks, we aim to expand the reach of this study to 100 patients, while simultaneously exploring the potential beneficial effects of additional ingredients such as botanical extracts, oils and fibers in separate pre-clinical studies.
“Through this research, we hope to create more unique blends of our health and wellness ingredients that may help support the health of those for whom COVID-19 poses the greatest threat.”
DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences launches Chymostar cheese coagulant
DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences has launched DuPont Danisco Chymostar, a new milk coagulating preparation for the dairy industry that offers optimal coagulation and ripening kinetics.
Chymostar can be used for producing any type of cheese: hard, semi hard, soft, mold-ripened, low-fat and ingredient cheeses and is the latest addition to DuPont’s dairy ingredient portfolio, which includes products like Carlina Animal Rennet and Marzyme Liquid Microbial Coagulants.
Clementina Dellomonaco, global product line manager, dairy enzymes, at DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences, said, “Chymostar rounds out our portfolio in coagulants so we can serve our cheese customers with all critical ingredients: cultures, coagulants and lipases based on their specific needs.
“This latest solution builds on our vast expertise in cheese cultures technology and applications know-how. And, this coupling of product innovation and years of experience in industrial and specialty cheese manufacturing elevates any single new product; our customers receive holistic support.”
Chymostar’s benefits include ideal curd formation and firming speed. It enables fast flavor-development due to its balanced proteolytic profile, thus helping mitigate the time and cost of maturation. Developed for a wide array of global consumers, it was important to DuPont that it be preservative-free, Kosher, halal-certified and suitable for use in vegetarian products.
“In testing, we have found that Chymostar’s improved texture development and meltability set it apart,” Dellomonaco said.
“We’re excited about the reliability and versatility of this coagulant for customers around the world looking to make a wide array of dairy products.”
Chymostar also meets purity and thermolability requirements for whey quality. It is inactivated in whey by standard pasteurization techniques and is a purified product – clear of lipase and amylase side activities.
In 2015, Whisps launched in the US as a specialty cheese crisp product.
Sales jumped 110% after the packaging was changed when the product was seen as an everyday snack and not an artisanal product. A further brand refresh in 2019 resulted in logo changes and new iconography.
Now available in more than 50,000 brick-and-mortar outlets, and online, Whisps has become the fastest-selling cheese crisps snack brand in the US.
The company said it has seen approximately 100% year-on-year growth in grocery and in the last four weeks, grown 60% across all retail while BFY snacking has only increased by half that amount.
In the space of one year, Whisps increased its household penetration by nearly 2% to equal 4% of all households, and has the highest loyalty in the cheese snacks category with a 59% brand loyalty score and nearly 50% purchase rate.
In the same timeframe, the company has grown from one employee, CEO Ilana Fischer, to more than 20.
Like many brands, Whisps has made many small tweaks to its strategy to continue to grow, including a heavier focus on brick-and-mortar’s online stores, new bag sizes to match economic purchasing, and marketing efforts to show how Whisps can be a snack and a part of meals.
In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the team has donated 500,000 Whisps to organizations nationwide and its field team has been working with local retail partners to provide additional store support.
New flavors including Tangy Ranch and Nacho have also been launched, and the company has redesigned its website, changed its social strategy, and invested in digital advertising.
Waitrose helping struggling UK cheese suppliers
UK retailer Waitrose has launched a special “best of British” cheese selection box, to help its smaller British artisan cheese suppliers adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
The box will be available at all of its 251 stores that have cheese counters.
The box will be filled with five of Waitrose’s most popular British artisan cheeses, including Westcombe Cheddar, Sussex Charmer, Yorkshire Blue, Cornish Yarg & Rosary Garlic & Herb Goat’s Cheese.
With Covid-19 seeing more customers shopping quickly in-store or shopping online, the move is designed to help small scale artisan cheese makers, who normally rely on the cheese service counters for business.
Alice Shrubsall, assistant cheese buyer at Waitrose, said, “Covid-19 created a big shift in the way people shop, particularly in the early stages, with more people wanting to grab and go. We recognised this trend and quickly adapted our approach to ensure our smallest cheese counter suppliers had the opportunity to sell their products in packaged form so that they didn’t lose out to the fast shopping habits adopted by customers in recent times.
“The response has been great and our customers are already returning to our cheese counters as a result of a greater wrapped assortment, which has allowed them to choose from a wide variety of cheeses while giving them the flexibility to grab and go.”
Waitrose’s ‘best of British’ cheese box, which retails for £15 ($18.60), follows a broader business decision to continue to stock products from its smallest cheese suppliers and keep its counters open throughout Covid-19.
However, with more people looking to “grab and go” in the early weeks of the pandemic, Waitrose worked with suppliers to find alternative solutions to sell products that traditionally required the assistance of Waitrose’s service counter staff.
Instead, products such as Mrs Bell’s Blue and Cornish Yarg, two Waitrose customer favorites, have been sold pre-packed so customers could pick them off the counter themselves.
One supplier that has been part of this trial is Caroline Bell, managing director of Shepherd’s Purse, who said, “The flexibility that Waitrose has shown through this period has been vital, not only for our sheep farmers who have also been greatly impacted by Covid-19, but for the future of our business.
“Yorkshire Blue is a key national product for us and had we not been able to sell at a normal capacity, we would be in a far different situation. As it stands, while there is still work to be done, we are now trying to reach a place where we can bring back our furloughed staff, and are very optimistic about the future.”
Catherine Mead, owner of Lynher Dairies, has also had to adapt. However, she is similarly positive about the opportunities for their Cornish Yarg cheese.
“Small businesses such as artisan cheesemakers really struggled in the first four weeks of the pandemic,” Mead said.
“With a limited route to market due to much lower numbers shopping at counters, it’s no exaggeration to say that many such businesses, including ourselves, were at stake.
“Fortunately, thanks to our own processes and the flexibility from Waitrose’s buyers, we have been able to adapt and put our product on the counter pre-wrapped, meaning our loyal customers will be able to find us over the next 12 weeks, and even giving us the potential to attract new ones who prefer to pick and go.”
Mead said the crisis has presented many challenges but it has also created some opportunities. She said it has helped create public awareness of the importance of local produce and has put local producers on the map.
“Interestingly, this pandemic has also helped us reach new audiences in-store, while similarly generating some unexpected increases in online traffic. Pre-covid, we would receive only two orders online per day and we are now consistently getting 100 orders daily. That is a significant increase in demand, which is quite remarkable and a very welcome silver lining during these challenging times.”
Gut health image: Getty Images