Functional foods that avert complex health problems are popular in different countries across the world but they are not commonly consumed in Bangladesh yet.
The dietary items that, besides providing nutrients and energy, beneficially modulate one or more targeted functions in the body, are mainly imported to the country and the organic variety of these products are rare here.
In this situation, Organic Nutrition Limited has been producing functional foods in completely organic methods for the local market, and currently, it is negotiating with various countries including Switzerland and America for export.
Organic Nutrition Limited, launched in 2016, is a subsidiary of the Lalmai Group. It is the first company to invest in the production of functional food products in Bangladesh.
Organic Nutrition manufactures and markets six functional food products under the brand name “Karkuma”. These are: Karkuma Organic Turmeric Immune Booster, Karkuma Organic Healthy Gut, Karkuma Superfood, Karkuma Immune Plus, Karkuma Joint Guard and Karkuma Joint Care.
The company also sells organic honey and apple cider vinegar after importing and repackaging.
Karkuma Organic Healthy Gut, amongst one of the functional food products produced by Organic Nutrition Limited, works to maintain sound gut ecology. It helps to prevent gas and bloating problems, keeps cells healthy by reducing oxidative stress and acts as a powerful antioxidant. All organic ingredients in this product are United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Organic certified.
According to researchers, curcumin is the bioactive component of turmeric. This ingredient lowers cholesterol levels, improves gastrointestinal health, and helps to reduce the risk of osteoarthritis, cancer, and heart disease.
As there is no organic production of the raw materials used in the Karkuma functional food, the company is importing these raw materials from various countries including the USA, Sri Lanka, Turkey, and Japan.
Organic Nutrition officials said many people in Bangladesh claim to produce organic foods, but just not using artificial fertilisers, and using only organic fertilisers (mainly cow dung) in farming makes a crop organic. A crop is not considered organic if it has the potential to be contaminated in any way by anything in the soil, water or air.
Organic farming is a well-planned farm management and production system that does not use man-made artificial fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides, growth hormones, food additives, or radiation-preserved or genetically modified organisms, seeds or products.
The concept of functional food originated in Japan in the mid-eighties and gained legal ground in 1991.
The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act was passed by the United States in 1994. The Bangladesh Safe Food Act 2013 deals with functional food. The process of creating a guideline for the production and marketing of functional foods is also in the final stage, said sources at the Bangladesh Safe Food Authority.
Organic Nutrition officials said a large market for functional foods is emerging across the world. According to a study by a market survey company Visiongain, UK, the functional food market was worth $150 billion in 2019, and it will cross $400 billion by 2030.
Currently, countries with advanced technology, including Japan, America, and the European countries, are working tirelessly to reduce the risk of complex health problems through foods rich in bioactive ingredients and have a relatively healthy functional lifestyle.
There are various researches and clinical trials that have proven that the consumption of functional food reduces the incidence of chronic non-communicable diseases without any side effects. And this is why functional food is becoming popular around the world.
Arun Kumar Mandal, executive director (Scientific Affairs and Nutrition) of Organic Nutrition Limited, told TBS, “Although functional food products are quite popular in different countries across the world, very few people in Bangladesh know about it.”
“We have started the research, processing and marketing of functional food in the global market including Bangladesh under the brand ‘Karkuma’. This initiative will play an important role in creating healthy human resources and socio-economic development of the country,” he added.
Organic Nutrition Limited – which manufactures and markets Karkuma products in several formats including liquid, capsule and powder – has set up a factory for manufacturing organic functional foods by maintaining high standards.
To assure the highest quality, the maximum level of hygiene is maintained in the factory. A high-quality laboratory with German machinery has been set up where every batch of products is tested before marketing.
Utmost care is taken for processing the raw materials used in the Karkuma products. Completely separate production lines have been set up to manufacture each type of product.
The workers in the factory follow the specific dress code and hygiene process, without which nobody is allowed anywhere near the production line.
In order to thrive as an organic functional food products producer, Organic Nutrition has to comply with several specific criteria. Along with regular monitoring and supervision, the company has to acquire several certificates for this purpose.
Organic Nutrition has been recognised as an organic company by following the organic regulations stipulated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).