How can firms make claim research successes their own, not their competitors’?

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Companies have to be clever about proprietary research, and plant extracts may hold unique opportunities in this respect, according to a food and nutrition industry consultant.

“Every time you make a specific [plant] extract, you can expect to have specific compound benefits and specific health benefits. The health claim regulation includes some things on data protection, which means how you can make your research your own success and not one of your competitors’,” Eric Chappius, director of consulting for Naturalpha, told NutraIngredients. 

“Plant extracts are very interesting in this framework as every plant extract may have a different health effect, then you are able to make a health claim application that may be usable only on your specific extract that you can protect through this specification,” he said.   

Talking with us on camera at this year’s Vitafoods in Geneva, Chappius said he also saw the discourse between food and nutrition and medical device status as a key area of movement in Europe. 

Minimum out, maximum in 

Speaking generally, he added that Barry Callebaut’s cocoa flavanol claim was a good example of companies being “smart” about maximizing competitive advantage with limited research input. 

“Basically when you’re investing money in research you want to be the only one to be authorised to use this specific research.” 

He said there were several options available to companies doing this. 

“Either firms can start from scratch, and the you can start something new but that’s quite a long-term strategy, otherwise you can also capitalise on what is existing. So you take less risk because you have money to invest but still you have to think very clearly about where you want to go and how you want to go there, how much time it will take you, how much money it will cost you and what the scientific risks are that it works or doesn’t work,” he said. 

“[Barry Callebaut] did it really in a smart way because what they did was they bought the last piece of the puzzle - because they had been capitalising on the data generated by one of their competitors – and they just bought a few studies that allowed them to protect that data in the framework of the health claim and they invested less money than if they had to do it from scratch,” he said.  

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