Japan’s FFCs popular ingredients revealed: GABA tops the chart, while soybean beta-conglycinin on the rise

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

GABA can be produced by the germination of brown rice grain.  ©Getty Images
GABA can be produced by the germination of brown rice grain. ©Getty Images

Related tags GABA FFC Soybean

GABA was most popular ingredient used in Japan’s Foods with Function Claims (FFCs) products in FY21, while soybean-derived β-conglycinin has made its debut as one of the popular ingredients, exclusive new data reveals.

This is according to data that Japan-based nutraceutical and cosmetics consultancy firm Smooth Link Inc has collated on the FFCs market in FY2021.

Data showed that GABA – a non-proteinogenic amino acid ​commonly used in supplements for stress relief, sleep aid, and blood pressure reduction – was the most popular ingredient incorporated across different types of FFCs, namely 1) supplements 2) processed foods and 3) fresh foods.

For instance, 78 processed foods FFCs, 54 supplements and 12 fresh foods FFCs contained GABA. 

The second most popular functional ingredients used were black ginger derived polymethoxyflavone and indigestible dextrin, which is used as a source of dietary fibre.

Inulin, also used as a source of dietary fibre, was the third most popular ingredient, followed by lutein, zeaxanthin, and piper longum-derived piperine.

The trend was largely similar to FY2020​, however, one interesting point to note is the rise of soybean-derived β-conglycinin in FY2021.

Used in tofu products

A total of 22 FFCs approved by the Japanese authority – in this case, Consumer Agency Affairs (CAA), used soybean-derived β-conglycinin in FY2021. All of these FFCs were processed foods, such as tofu and soy milk.

FFCs containing soybean-derived β-conglycinin were first approved by the CAA in FY2019. 

To date, Asahimatsu Foods has the most soybean-derived β-conglycinin FFCs. 

Asahimatsu Foods‘ soybean-derived β-conglycinin
Asahimatsu Foods' FFC which contains soybean-derived β-conglycinin.

The other companies which have developed products containing soybean-derived β-conglycinin were Misuzu Co, Tsukada, and Fukeren Inc.

The health claim common to all these products is that "soy β-conglycinin has been reported to reduce elevated blood triglyceride levels and elevated BMI," ​Hisaaki Kato, president of Smooth Link Inc told us.

“Fuji Oil and Kyoto University announced in 2007 that they jointly studied the health function of soy protein and found that soy β-conglycinin reduces triglycerides,”​ he added.

According to the research, consuming five grams of soy β-conglycinin per day has improved the value for neutral fat in serum, and visceral fat was reduced, said Fuji Oil.

Product formats

There has been an increase in the number of FFCs that came in the form of processed foods.

Since the beginning of the FFC program, products in the form of supplements have been the largest. However, processed products have been catching up yearly mainly due to advances in application technology of functional ingredients like GABA,” ​said Kato.

The ratio of FFC in supplement form to processed food FFC was 7:3 in FY 2015 and had changed to 3:2 in FY2021, he pointed out.

“The reason for this seems to be the slowdown in FFCs drinks - which used to take the largest FFC market share, including tea and coffee. The number of processed foods was up 30 per cent from the previous year, while drinks were down by 5 per cent.”

FFCs drinks accounted for 39 per cent of all approved FFCs in FY2021.

Healthy Ageing / Probiotics / Protein is a major focus at our forthcoming Growth Asia Summit in Singapore from October 11-13.

Check our the big-name brands, international experts, and pioneering start-ups that are presenting here.

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