LANXESS’ Nagardo receives World Beverage Innovation Award 2022


LANXESS has received the World Beverage Innovation Award 2022 in the “Best Beverage Ingredient” category for its natural preservative Nagardo. The 20th World Beverage Innovation Awards, created by UK-based FoodBev Media Ltd, recognizes innovation and excellence across all categories in the global beverage industry. The award ceremony took place on September 13, 2022 during the drinktec trade fair in Munich. The jury had previously evaluated more than 150 submissions from 17 countries in 22 categories.

Monika Ebener, Global Marketing Director Natural Antimicrobials in the Beverage Technology business line at LANXESS, who accompanied the natural preservative from discovery to product launch, accepted the award. “Winning the World Beverage Innovation Award shows that Nagardo has already won over the experts in the beverage industry. This reflects the voices of customers who are already successfully testing and using our new product,” says Ebener. The preservative is already being used in the USA, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. With the recent EU approval, LANXESS is further expanding Nagardo’s global presence.

Drug discovery through screening methods

Due to its high water content in combination with possible nutrients such as sugar and fruit components, a beverage is an extremely sensitive product that can spoil within a few days without physical or chemical treatment. Beverage-damaging microbes should ideally be combated with natural means. However, natural ingredients such as essential oils or certain extracts based on rosemary, cinnamon or onions, for example, offer microbial protection that is not nearly as effective as conventional preservatives. In addition, any influence on the taste of a drink should be avoided.

In the search for suitable products in the biosphere, the Dortmund start-up IMD Natural Solutions GmbH (INS), which has been part of LANXESS’ Material Protection Products (MPP) business unit since 2017, has developed a program that is based on state-of-the-art research processes and search algorithms. One of the world’s largest screenable libraries with more than 100,000 natural molecules from plants, bacteria, algae and fungi was searched for suitable active ingredients.

In this extensive screening process, the most interesting results came from an edible mushroom that had previously received little attention: the Dacryopinax spathularia, or commonly referred to as “sweet osmanthus ear”. This edible mushroom is native to tropical and subtropical areas worldwide, is bright orange in color and grows in the form of small ear-shaped spatulas, similar to the osmanthus flower.

The active ingredient is obtained by fermentation through a proprietary, solvent-free, food-grade process. It consists of molecular congeners in a specific ratio, each consisting of a sugar and a lipid moiety. This class of surface-active compounds, which interfere with the cell membranes of microbes, are therefore referred to as natural glycolipids.

Consumer-friendly marketing options and reliable protection against spoilage

Compared to classic preservatives, Nagardo shows superior effectiveness against typical beverage spoilage pathogens. In most cases, a dosage that is many times lower than that of conventional excipients is sufficient. The broad spectrum of activity shows an excellent effect against heat-resistant spore-forming agents such as e.g Alicyclobacillus Species or representatives of genera Byssochlamys, Neosartorya as well as Talaromyces. It is also effective against organisms adapted to conventional preservatives, such as Zygosaccharomyces bailii.

In the recommended dosage, Nagardo does not affect the sensory properties of a drink: color, smell and, above all, taste remain as intended by the manufacturer. Therefore, the natural glycolipids can be used in a variety of beverages. Carbonated products in particular benefit from Nagardo, since no second preservative is usually required.

A special dosing technique is also not required: the powder is pre-dissolved in water and added to the beverage formulation during product mixing. Nagardo remains in the drink and thus protects it naturally even after opening.

Economical solution for filling sensitive products

Nagardo’s natural preservative enables manufacturers to adapt their portfolio to changing consumer awareness and growing demand for natural ingredients. “Our extended range opens up new possibilities for archiving. With our brands Velcorin, one of the top technologies for antimicrobial beverage stabilization, and our new Nagardo, we want to participate even more in the global growth of the beverage market in the future,” emphasizes Janmarc Heitmann, head of the MPP Beverage Technology division. “Individually or in combination, our two technologies are an economical solution for the microbiologically safe filling of sensitive products,” emphasizes Heitmann. All filling systems from glass/PET bottles to carton packs, cans, KEGs and bag-in-boxes can be operated with both technologies.

Using Nagardo and Velcorin can help meet a company’s sustainability goals by reducing energy consumption by switching from hot-fill or tunnel pasteurization to cold-fill. Secondly, due to the thinner walls, less PET is required for the beverage bottles than with hot filling. Depending on the application, the combination of both products eliminates further microbiological hurdles such as energy-intensive distribution and marketing in the cold chain.

Criteria for selecting the appropriate technology

In addition to the output efficiency, a holistic cost analysis is a crucial selection criterion for the producer for the appropriate production platform. All costs incurred, ie one-off costs and ongoing costs, must be taken into account. Cost drivers are, for example, heavy PET bottles for the hot-fill process and rising energy prices. Factors such as the positioning of a brand, desired claims or the regulatory situation also influence the selection of a preservation technology.

The great advantage of both the Nagardo and the Velcorin technology is that they can easily be used in new lines and also in combination with existing filling machines that were not originally intended for filling sensitive beverages. These are, for example, fillers for beer or classic soft drinks.

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