Fonterra talks innovation that boosts cognition, sight and mood

By Katy Askew

- Last updated on GMT

Fonterra R&D teams are working to boost brain health through dairy ingredients / Pic: Fonterra
Fonterra R&D teams are working to boost brain health through dairy ingredients / Pic: Fonterra

Related tags Fonterra Cognition Eye health stress management

Fonterra’s R&D teams are working to develop dairy products that deliver health benefits around improved cognition, sight and even mood. We hear from Judith Swales, CEO of Fonterra Asia Pacific, to learn more.

New Zealand dairy cooperative Fonterra has targeted its innovation efforts to tackle some of the lifestyle challenges facing consumers today.

The world’s largest dairy exporter believes our lifestyles are impacting our performance. Long working hours and more time in front of screens can take a toll on our eyes, brain and body, the dairy company notes.

Blue light from TVs, computers, smart phones, and tablets has been linked to issues ranging from disturbed sleep to headaches and problems with eye health​. 

Fonterra believes dairy can provide a solution. The company aims to leverage its expertise in dairy innovation and nutrition to develop solutions that combat cognitive degradation and any ill effects of blue light.

The team, together with scientists from Fonterra’s Research and Development Centre, have been working on a solution that could help people improve their cognition performance, we were told.

“We’ve taken our farmers’ milk and added other special ingredients, to create a cognitive supplement system, aiming to improve people’s cognitive performance and ease their stress levels when consumed as part of a healthy, balanced diet,”​ explained Judith Swales, CEO of Fonterra Asia Pacific.

‘Nutrient bundles’ for brain and mood boost

Fonterra’s R&D teams used New Zealand pasture-fed buttermilk powder as a base to develop new ingredients that deliver benefits for brain to eye health. This is produced using a blend of fresh dairy cream and skim milk and has a ‘distinguishing feature’ that it is rich in phospholipids.

“We are taking key components of dairy and adding them to vitamins and plant-based ingredients, and trademarking these ‘nutrient bundles’ which support cognition, visual performance and mood,”​ Swales told us.

This approach has seen Fonterra introduce three ingredient bundles targeting brain health and stress management outcomes.

Pro-Sight is an ‘antioxidant eye care bundle’ that supports eye health and visual performance. It blends lutein and zeaxanthin – which help filter blue and UV light. It also contains Vitamin A and riboflavin, which are important for maintaining healthy vision. ThinkSharp is an ingredient bundle that supports cognitive functions including memory and focus, particularly under stress. Meanwhile StresLes helps protect brain cells from stress. It includes vitamin C, vitamin B6, and riboflavin. The highest concentration of vitamin C is in the brain, and StresLes purportedly helps protect the brain cells from stress, this publication was told.

“The next step is to take these three nutrient bundles and develop solutions that could improve people’s cognition. So, watch this space.”

As well as expanding its ingredient portfolio, Fonterra has indicated it intends to build on consumer-facing product launches in the health and wellness space.

The farmer-owned cooperative said innovation efforts and commercialisation of its IP will help it expand in the high-value nutritional sector. Efforts have included its recent Singapore launch of Nature, a cultured milk beverage fortified with added vitamins and Fonterra’s probiotics, targeting the gut health market. Plans to launch new consumer products for improving cognition, sight and stress are also in the works. 

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