- Curcumin, a chemical contained within the wildly popular spice turmeric, is drawing R&D interest in food and beverage applications, according to Frost & Sullivan’s visionary science team. It’s ability to be used as a natural food color is of special interest.
- Extract and ingredient manufacturers are exploring ways to incorporate curcumin in the formulation of nutraceuticals, dietary supplements, herbals, cosmetics and functional foods and beverages.
- “Its demonstrated utility in disease prevention and pain relief in inflammatory disorders such as rheumatism and osteoarthritis, as well as its anti-cancer properties, greatly enhance its profile and draw investments,” says Frost & Sullivan Visionary Science Principal Analyst Raghu Tantry.
Turmeric is one of the trendiest spices in the rack right now for a reason. The bright orange ground root of the turmeric plant has the potential to have an incredibly positive affect on our health. According to research conducted by Dr. Michael Mosley of BBC’s “Trust Me, I’m a Doctor,” it can improve a gene that causes depression, asthma, eczema, and even cancer, when eaten every day. University of Central Florida and Nemours Children’s Hospital researchers said this week that curcumin could be used to treat Neuroblastoma, the leading cause of cancer in infants.
Still, the relatively inexpensive spice is most often found in South Asian cuisine. It’s what gives curries that pop of color and flavor. Consumers intrigued by turmeric's potentially powerful healing abilities bought a bottle for home use, making it a “rising star” when it came to functional food searches using Google in 2016. An added interest in sampling international cuisine has only aided turmeric’s rise. Many of the searches focused on ways to incorporate the spice in recipes.
Consumers who don’t want to cook with turmeric won’t be hard pressed to find ready-to-eat options featuring the ingredient. Rebbl beverage company makes an organic coconut milk drink with turmeric, Theo produces a chocolate coconut turmeric sweet snack, and Pukka tea offers a special blend featuring the spice. Expect to see this field of food and beverage items with turmeric on the ingredient list increase in the next year. While many consumers are aware of the health benefits of turmeric, they may feel limited by the strong flavor profile. The processed foods solve that problem.
Turmeric’s rise to stardom hasn't been without a few bumps in the road. The spice has often been linked to lead contamination, and there have been multiple recalls of the imported spice just in the last year. The solution would be for US manufacturers to start growing and processing the spice at home, where food safety protocols are more strictly enforced. Despite these bumps, tumeric and curcumin appear to have a promising future in U.S. foods and beverages.