Hot spots and pain points in the development of plant extracts

Plant extract is a product formed by using plants as raw materials, through physical and chemical extraction and separation process, directional acquisition and concentration of one or more active ingredients in plants, without changing the structure of the active ingredients. The plant extract industry is an emerging industry that has only developed in the past 20 years. It is widely used in food, medicine, cosmetics, agriculture and other fields. Although the time is not long, the development momentum is rapid. The development and application of plant extracts has become an important strategic measure for enterprises to improve their competitiveness.

development history and current situation

my country's Chinese herbal medicine resources are very rich. There are no less than 10,000 types that can be used, and there are more than 1,000-1,200 types that are commonly used. Among them, plant herbs account for about 90%. The extraction and utilization of plant ingredients has a long history, but There is no independent industry. It was not until the 1970 s that some domestic pharmaceutical companies used machinery to extract traditional Chinese medicine, but it is still only a part of the pharmaceutical industry. Plant extract is a term that contains modern processing technology. It first emerged in Europe and the United States in the 1980 s. Because of the improvement of industrialization and the deeper use of resources, plant extracts are gradually favored by the market for their natural and healthy attributes. Limited by technology, we started late in plant extracts, but it is developing rapidly. The export of plant extracts of traditional Chinese medicine alone accounts for more than 40% of the total export of traditional Chinese medicine, and the industry is also developing towards high quality. It is gradually shifting from a single export of raw materials to diversified applications.

Advantages of plant extracts

The concept of green consumption and returning to nature has become a consumer fashion. The natural attributes of plant extracts meet the needs of consumers and are conducive to building a sustainable ecological market. Plant extract is the middle link of the whole industrial chain, upstream connection agricultural planting, downstream to undertake product development and application, its product line variability is high, cost and technical input level is clear, suitable for different stages of enterprises into production, its industrial added value is also high.

Application of plant extracts

Plant extracts are diverse and have diverse functions. An extract often has different functions, but it can be roughly divided into four categories: coloring, flavor output, pharmacological effects and health functions.

Coloring: plant pigment is the main component of plant color. Some plants are extremely rich in pigment content and can be used for pigment extraction. There are dozens of plant pigments available in China, such as curcumin, safflower yellow, radish red, beet red, sorghum red, chili red, etc.

Flavor output: Plant extracts are often rich in characteristic components that are effective in stimulating the senses, such as sweeteners and volatile substances. Natural sweetener is a popular new type of sweetener, which not only has outstanding sweetness, but also is an ideal substitute for sucrose, and its health effect is significant. Such as stevioside, mogroside and so on. Essential oils are concentrated volatile substances that are commonly used in the preparation of fragrances and are the industry with the lowest application threshold among plant extracts, with the least regulatory restrictions.

Pharmacological effects: The use of Chinese herbal preparations has a long history and is more prosperous in Asia. In recent years, driven by the concept of Chinese medicine, it has become world-renowned.

Health care function: The components of plant extracts include glycosides, acids, polyphenols, polysaccharides, terpenoids, flavonoids, alkaloids, etc. These components have been proved to have biological activity in the study, and have a non-negligible effect on human health. The development of its health care function has become the mainstream application trend of plant extracts.

Industry pain points

The strong demand of the market has led to the rapid development of the industry, but there are still many problems to be solved.

The first is the restriction of laws and regulations. Different countries have different requirements for plant extracts, and the application of products is different. For example, dietary supplements are the main products in North America; health products and plant drugs are the main products in Europe; and traditional Chinese medicine and food additives are the main products in China. The difference in use directly affects the applicability of the type of raw material, and only the categories that meet the requirements can enter the market, with more restrictions.

The second is the uneven distribution of industrial processing. Because of the limitation of technical conditions, my country mainly uses crude extracts, and in-depth development is restricted by technology and regulations. The development is not ideal and lacks competitiveness in the world.

Third, the supporting system is not perfect, plant extracts are emerging industries in China, most of which do not have corresponding production standards and norms, lack of effective implementation of supervision, product quality is uneven, and there is still a long way to go on the road of industrial norms.

Take curcumin as an example: curcumin is a hot functional food raw material, especially in the North American market. Curcumin has covered many fields such as dietary supplements, beverages, cosmetics, etc., and it is mainly used in food colorants in China. Although its functional food has also been on the market, it takes a long time to register and approve, and the cost of enterprise development is high. Recently, in the draft of the supplementary list of health food accessories, turmeric powder is proposed to be listed as health food accessories, although the maximum use amount is still set, but it has a great role in promoting the application of turmeric powder.

It is true that there are still many restrictions in the plant extract industry, but it is undeniable that plant extracts are an irresistible "star of tomorrow".