Açaí, Coffee Berries & Co. – Colombia’s Natural Diversity in Emulsion Form
Interview with Dr Luis Carlos Carrillo Hormaza, Chief Scientific Officer (CSO),
Bioingred Tech Colombia
Can you describe briefly to us what is special about your emulsions?
Utilising Colombia’s natural biodiversity, we produce emulsified extracts from natural raw materials with the help of ultramodern technology. Our emulsions contain hydro-soluble and oil-soluble plant components. Both their natural provenance and their ingredients and structure make them unique. The emulsified extracts can be used in a wide variety of personal care products. They supply important nutrients for the skin and hair, have moisturising properties, enhance natural protective mechanisms and have an anti-ageing effect.
What natural active substances does Bioingred use?
We turn to the flora of Colombia as our source for our emulsions. Just some of the plants we use are açaí, cocoa, coffee berries, avocados, coconuts, lulos, golden berries, passion fruits, bixa and araza, we extract the active personal care ingredients from these fruits and plants.
Thus, for example, açaí – or “naidi”, as the berry is traditionally called in Colombia – is often referred to as a superfood on account of its nutritional profile. But its ingredients and its lipophilic and hydrophilic compounds are also highly effective when applied externally and in hair and skincare. What makes the small berries so invaluable for care products and for our emulsions lies primarily in their vitamins, mineral substances and antioxidants such as anthocyanins.
Another typical plant from Colombia is the coffee berry. This too is predominantly known from the field of nutrition, symbolising as it does premium quality coffee. But, at the same time, the coffee berry is packed full of active substances with a high level of natural antioxidants, caffeine and green coffee oil, which is an ideal combination for skincare as toning and brightening actives.
Where do the raw materials come from?
We pay meticulous attention to the quality and natural purity of our raw materials. Beyond that, we also attach great importance to working together closely and fairly with smallholder farmers. The açaí berries, for example, are sourced from wild harvesting. Close to the Magdalena River, there is an açaí forest covering around 400 hectares. The local farmers harvest the roughly 30-metre-tall palms, sort the berries and place them at our disposal for further processing. In turn, the cocoa that we process originates from Colombia’s Caribbean coastline. We purchase the whole cocoa fruits from a smallholders’ consortium that is specialised in ecological farming. We use a mixture of unfermented violet cocoa beans and cocoa husks (cascarilla) in our emulsions.
What extraction technology does Bioingred use?
Our aim is to mirror the full biological diversity of Colombia in our emulsions. This means that we develop extracts that ensure high content levels of natural actives in the end products. To that end, one of the processes we use is ultrasonic fragmentation. This makes it possible to stabilise oily components from the plants. Nanostructured ingredients are formed that unite the active hydro-soluble and oily ingredients in a single element. These components can easily be incorporated in the final formulation, and hence in the end product. In other words, our innovative extraction technology not only facilitates retaining high levels of natural ingredients in the end product, but also reduces the expense – in terms of both costs and time – of further processing.
This approach reflects how we perceive ourselves rather well: We don’t regard ourselves as simply a producer of emulsions, other extracts and functional blends, but also as a technology partner for the cosmetics industry. Bioingred is a spin-off from the University of Antioquia, and so research and development still remain a central focus of ours, and we are available as a product development partner – for European companies as well.
Is Bioingred already present on the European market?
Bioingred Tech has been intensively preparing itself for the EU market in recent months. However, many of our planned trade fair appearances had to be cancelled again on account of the COVID pandemic. But, in December 2021, we were present at the dual trade fair Food Ingredients Europe (Fi Europe) and Health Ingredients Europe (Hi Europe) in Frankfurt, where we were able to conduct excellent initial talks with importer companies.
We are part of the Import Promotion Desk (IPD) programme, an import promotion initiative financed by Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. IPD assisted us with our trade fair appearance in Frankfurt and mediated contacts for us to European manufacturers. It is also thanks to IPD that we have already learned a great deal about the special demands of the European market and were able to prepare ourselves accordingly. We are able to meet the quality standards as well as fulfilling requirements in terms of delivery quantities and logistics in Europe, and we are looking forward to offering our products to the European trade sector.