Kraft Fast-Forwards Functional Foods

Kraft Live Active barsKraft Foods Global Inc. is pushing hard to get a jump on innovating functional foods via a research and licensing partnership with Minneapolis-based Medisyn Technologies, Inc.

Medisnyn, "a unique bioactive compound design and discovery company" focused on pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals and animal health products, announced that the partnership's work began in December.

Expected to enable faster and less costly development of new functional food ingredients, the collaboration covers "bioactive discovery with development and commercialization milestones, as well as post-commercialization payments," according to Medisyn.

Medisyn's Forward Engineering technology employs mathematical models to "screen hundreds of thousands of compounds until it finds ones that match a model for the desired biological activity, or active health benefits," according to, which interviewed Medisyn President David Land.



Land noted that it takes about 18 months to identify useful compounds via this model. The Forward Engineering process is the reverse of the more time-consuming process currently used to discover such active ingredients, which is based on deriving properties from known compounds, Land explained.

"We're excited and optimistic about our collaborations with Medisyn and the potential its technology offers to make significant discoveries in bioactive ingredients suitable for food use," commented Todd Abraham, Kraft Foods SVP nutrition and research.

Kraft was already hot on the functional trail. For example, recently launched LiveActive Chewy Granola Bars (shown above) are billed as "the first-ever nationally available non-refrigerated bars containing both live probiotic cultures and fiber."

Kraft's enthusiasm isn't hard to grasp. Medisyn's Land points out that there are now more than 76 million aging Baby Boomers, and more than half of all Americans say they are making significant efforts to eat better to maintain health and manage disease conditions such as obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, osteoporosis and high blood pressure.

The upshot is an expected goldmine of new-product opportunities for food and beverage manufacturers. According to Euromonitor International, the global fortified F&B market was worth an estimated $97 billion in 2006--almost double the size of vitamins and dietary supplements--and is projected to grow 34% between 2006 and 2011. Just-Food's "2008 Global Market Review of Functional Foods" projects this market segment to grow to $90.5 billion by 2013.

In the U.S., Euromonitor estimates that functional drinking and spoonable yogurts alone grew by 28% (to $812 million) in 2007, and will grow 83% to nearly $1.5 billion by 2012.

Medisyn, which reports being currently engaged in more than 30 related research projects, has worked with Mount Sinai School of Medicine, The U.S. Department of Defense and Invitrogen, among others.

The technology Medisyn uses was originally developed by Jorge Gálvez, a physical chemistry professor at the University of Valencia in Spain. Medisyn licensed it in 2002 and acquired it in 2004.

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