Head of Innovation and Development in Molino La Estampa | Chile
Title: Functional ingredients in the food industry in Latin America
Manuel Palma has a Ph. D in Nutrition and Food, master’s in food sciences, MBA and Master in Innovation (c). He has experience in the development of functional ingredients from agro-industrial waste and stabilization through microencapsulation. He worked as a researcher at the University of Chile for 5 years, to later continue his professional career as a head in R&D in companies in the area of lipids and bakery, where he has developed projects which help in the prevention of diabetes, improvements in absorption of micronutrients, replacement of ingredients through the use of enzymes and obtaining economic resources for the execution of R&D projects.
Latin America has experienced a significant economic development in recent years, however, the Region is characterized by a wide variation in economic development and purchasing power and different health problems which are associated with eating habits, lifestyle, geographical barriers, among others. In this context, the food industry in Latin America is facing different sociocultural changes which has led to the emergence of a new type of consumer, concerned to find food that not only nutritional, but to help in the prevention of diseases, which comply with environmental regulations and be accessible to purchase. The use of functional ingredients incorporated in food matrices is an opportunity to innovate, generating improvements from the environmental point of view since it is possible to obtain functional ingredients from agro-industrial waste which has functional properties and helps to prevent and/or improve chronic diseases (diabetes, hypertension, cancer, etc.). However, the functional ingredients present a high cost, are susceptible to degradation, change the concentration according to the source of origin and are difficult to incorporate into food matrices. It is necessary to develop technologies which allow them to stabilize and be protected from a variety of adverse conditions. Although we already have a wide range of functional ingredients, the food industry is not prepared for their use and incorporation into the value chain, because functional ingredients have a high cost and the food industry is only looking for economically viable ingredients and products without a real concern for the health problems in the Latin American populations. It is necessary to have a structural and mental change that allows the food industry to reconsider and understand its importance in generating products that create an impact on the population health, generating products that go beyond merely the commercial aspects and generate a change in the quality of life of consumers.