This is the firm’s first foray with powdered products after launching its four functional drinks in 2018.
This is part of Asmara's plans to launch six functional powders this year, as NutraIngredients-Asia previously reported.
Yin and Yang
The firm is known to combine TCM, Ayurveda, and Jamu in its products, and for the two powdered products, it was no different.
The first product is called Yin Elixir which contains ginseng (American, Peruvian Maca, Indian Ashwagandha), saffron as well as para-probiotics.
Para-probiotics, or so-called ‘ghost probiotics’, is not a live probiotic because the heat-treatment renders it non-viable, however the dead cells still stimulate certain functions and can still confer health benefits.
The second product, the Yang Elixir contains ginseng (Korean Red, Peruvian Maca, Indian Ashwagandha) saffron and para-probiotics.
Yin and Yang is a concept in ancient Chinese medical philosophy which are two opposing yet mutually complementary energies in the body that interacts to maintain good overall health. Yin is said to generate cold energy while Yang generates hot energy.
Ramesh Krish Kumar, co-founder and managing director of Asmara told us the powders were formulated to provide energy boosting effects (from ginseng), immune-boosting (from para-probiotics) and stress relief (from saffron).
The para-probiotics used in the powders is a heat-treated Lactobacillus paracasei MCC1849 (commercial name: LAC-Shield), obtained from the Japanese firm Morinaga Milk Industry.
It has been clinically studied for its ability to stimulate immune function in humans.
In one study by Murata et al, Lactobacillus paracasei MCC1849 could reduce the incidence of common cold, as well as reduce duration of symptoms including cough, sore throat, sneezing and fever in healthy adults.
It was found to induce the production of IL-12, a cytokine which activates and stimulates immune function.
In addition to its immune health effects, para-probiotics are known for its diverse applications use. Typically, probiotics are challenging to incorporate into functional foods and beverages because of their intolerance to high temperatures and moisture but since para-probiotics has been heat-treated, it does not pose the stability issues faced by other probiotics.
In Japan, Morinaga’s para-probiotics have been used by more than 100 companies for various food and beverage applications.
Ramesh said Asmara’s elixir powders can be added into hot or cold drinks, soups, and even meals.
The recommended dosage is 1g per day, which contains 10 billion para-probiotics, the effective dosage recommended in several human clinical studies.
The elixirs can be found on e-commerce platforms such as RedMart, Lazada, Shopee, and Teapasar alongside its functional beverages. It is also available in supermarkets as well as food service.
Ramesh told us there were plans to expand into Amazon, NTUC Online, and iHerb. The firm is also set to launch its own e-commerce store this month.
He added that Asmara’s online and supermarket sales increased drastically during the COVID-19 period, where its immunity and weight management beverages were popular. However, there was a drop in sales at physical retail places such as café, bistros, tourist attraction locations, and restaurants.
The firm’s customers were mostly local females and expatriates between 25 to 54 years. “Most of the customers were health, weight, and environmentally-conscious individuals. They showed specific interest in herbalism, Ayurveda, TCM, yoga, fitness, mindfulness, clean-eating, natural foods, organic foods, and vegetarianism,” Ramesh said.
The firm is set to release four symbiotic powders, three RTD cacao beverages as well as an edible cosmetic range later this year.
Expansion plans to Australia and New Zealand were put on hold due to the COVID-19 disruption. The company added that potential collaboration with various grocers and supermarkets was also affected.