After decades of R&D, the Phenolaeis team says this versatile ingredient is generating a lot of excitement with its market-ready solutions for food, beverages, snacks and supplements
Phenolaeis’ recently appointed Vice President of Sales and Marketing John Musselman has a simple first response when people ask him about the benefits of Palm Fruit Extract. “It makes products be better for you and often taste better, too,” he replies. Of course, there’s significantly more to the story. Palm Fruit Extract is a clean, versatile, high-performance, sustainable ingredient with a North American traceable supply chain. And lately, the Phenolaeis team has been on overdrive as they expertly guide Palm Fruit Extract from concept to trials to prototypes and first launches.
There’s something in the water: Nutrients from regenerative, sustainable agriculture
It often takes years for an ingredient to become an overnight success. The Palm Fruit Extract story began nearly 20 years ago, when the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) collaborated with two MIT professors to find a more efficient use of the water stream from oil palm mills. This initiative is very much in keeping with Malaysia’s global leadership in sustainable palm oil production. Every opportunity to recycle and benefit both planet and people is explored.
There, in the water stream, were multi-function, water-soluble nutrients that contained at least five unique polyphenols plus protein, fiber and carbohydrates. After developing a proprietary solvent-free water extraction process, the next step was to explore Palm Fruit Extract’s benefits. It was like panning for gold and discovering the mother lode: This ingredient complex has unique and powerful health benefits!
Research by MIT and the MPOB has shown that Palm Fruit Extract includes compounds that act as antioxidants to support immune system health. Clinical research studies also show its potential to support better mood, endurance and performance, and overall mind/body wellness. Here’s the shocker no one expected: It also softens bitter notes and enhances taste in a variety of food products such as coffee, teas and chocolate. “It’s the same taste, only better,” comments Phenolaeis CEO Kevin L. Ohashi, PhD, MBA.
A partner to the finish line
Realizing Palm Fruit Extract’s unique potential, the Phenolaeis team is now ready to convert science and innovation into go-to-market strategies. “One of the ways we’re doing this is focusing on solutions-based conversations with partners and potential customers. We’re building out prototypes and finished products,” says Musselman.
“In doing so, we’re demonstrating how to use Palm Fruit Extract (in many cases across an entire portfolio because it is so versatile), how to talk about it and what it looks like on a label. Phenolaeis is more than a transactional ingredient supplier. We are a partner from concept to the finish line.”
Palm Fruit Extract is already in some successful dietary supplement formulas as well as beverage and snack prototypes. Says Ohashi, “It is unusual to have an ingredient take two unique paths, dietary supplements and food and beverage, so quickly.”
He continues, “After all the hard work, the preparation and research to establish the foundation for our business, it’s exciting to now commercialize Palm Fruit Extract and see people’s responses to the finished products. We did this because we believe we have a product and technologies that benefit people and wellness; and we have a sustainability story that benefits our planet.”
“We aren’t going to drive formulators bonkers”
“The very interesting side note is that Palm Fruit Extract is also a flavor enhancer. Its flavor is inherently clean and elegant. It mellows acidic beverages’ bitter notes and rounds out the mouthfeel. This is especially noticeable when Palm Fruit Extract is added to coffee, tart-tasting juices, cocoa, vitamin gummies, yogurt, chocolate, turmeric and bitter teas, or kombucha,” says Ohashi.
“We aren’t disrupting flavors,” confirms Musselman. “Palm Fruit Extract is easy to work with and won’t interfere with clean label claims. That means we’re not coming out of the gate with something that will drive formulators bonkers.”
Indulgence becomes even healthier
Among the first products to be formulated with Palm Fruit Extract were coffee and chocolate. “Dark chocolate already has a health halo,” comments Ohashi. “Enhancing dark chocolate’s health benefits with another tropical plant-based component makes sense. Both are phenolic-rich, ancient crops with antioxidant properties. We’re taking an already indulgent product and incorporating a superfruit that provides additional health and mood benefits, while in some cases enhancing dark chocolate’s flavor characteristics.”
He adds, “Palm Fruit Extract can provide a natural, nutritional benefit to other basic food and beverage products that are consumed on a daily basis. As companies continue to launch protein products and plant-based products, Palm Fruit Extract can be an active participant in the formulation discussions. By delivering added health benefits plus better taste, it will give these products a stronger competitive advantage.”