WCA Life Science

Afriplex launches new weight management ingredient

Irvingia GabonensisPaarl’s Afriplex has announced the launch of a new weight management ingredient, a powder extract derived from Irvingia gabonensis, a fruit tree native to west Africa.

The flesh of Irvingia gabonensis fruit, or bush mango, has been consumed for centuries in the likes of Cameroon and Nigerians, as have its dika seeds that, dried or fresh, are commonly used in local cooking as flavourants and texturants. Irvingia is anecdotally well-known for its weight-loss properties. The plant has a satiety effect, a quality that attracted the interest of Afriplex. Unlike hoodia gordonii that acts to suppress appetite, it rather promotes satiety by delaying the exit of food from the stomach via the presence of soluble fibre in its seeds.

Afriplex’s marketing manager, Billy Smith, says keen interest in Irvingia prompted demand for the development of an active extract that’s produced in a HACCP-certified environment. One internet article describes it as the “newest supplement to hit the weight loss marketplace, saturate the internet with ads and light up the discussion forums”.

Of importance, he notes, is the fact that Afriplex has secured the supply of raw material and can therefore guarantee sustainable production and supply. It has now produced an extract that has shown similar effects in at least one peer-reviewed clinical trial.

The company is marketing the ingredient to food, supplements and pharmaceutical manufacturers as a natural weight management option. However, before doing so in the European Union and North America, it requires novel foods approval, something the company is seeking to obtain in conjunction with potential European partners.

“We are negotiating with two big US food companies and are hoping we can walk the path toward GRAS (generally recognised as safe) status that is required before bush mango extracts can appear in foods there,”  Smith said in an interview with

To gain such self-affirmed status typically takes between three and six months. EU Novel Foods approval can take longer, in some cases years, as approval must come from 27 member states.

Clinical data has revealed that satiety effects could be delivered at a range between 300mg and 3 150mg per day, depending on the target population and the particular food or supplement matrix in question.

In one 2005 study published in the Journal of Lipids in Health and Disease, 40 obese Cameroonians recorded decreases in body weight, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides over a 10-week period. Other studies found LDL cholesterol levels fell by between 27 and 45%.

Further studies are looking into bush mango’s ability to benefit obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

Smith delcines to reveal pricing details, but says Irvingia gabonensis extracts “were not cheap ingredients”.

Much-publicised hoodia suffered a blow in November last year when Unilever shelved its plans to incorporate it into weight loss foods, despite investing €20m on its development. However, the ingredient remains on-market in many products, most notably on the US dietary supplements market.

Other new ingredient novelties

This development, adds Smith, can be viewed against a recent drive by Afriplex to produce more African-related extracts and forms part of a number of novel extracts that will be forthcoming from its stable. Last year it won EU novel foods approval for its baobab extracts, and has also just launched a powder extract of Camellia sinensis tea. 

CamelliaSinensisThe extract is manufactured using propriety processing technology with the main objective to capture the essence and flavour of this popular tea in a standardised format. Camellia sinensis PE is a powder extract and is 100% pure and natural, containing no additives or carriers. Apart from the unique flavour profile associated with this tea, the extract is readily soluble in water and produces a crystal clear solution when dissolved in water. This extract may be applied in a wide range of applications in food and beverage formulations, notes Afriplex.

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