Plant extracts are based on plants as raw materials. According to the needs of the final product extracted, through physical and chemical extraction and separation processes, one or more active ingredients in the plant are obtained and concentrated, without changing the structure of the active ingredients. The plant extracts industry is an emerging industry that has only developed in the past 20 years. It has been widely used in food, medicine, cosmetics, agriculture and other fields. Although the development time is short, it has developed rapidly. The development and application of plant extracts has become an important strategic measure for enterprises to improve their competitiveness.
China has very rich resources of Chinese herbal medicine. There are no less than 10,000 types of Chinese herbal medicines. There are more than 1000 to 1200 commonly used types, among which botanical herbs account for about 90%. The extraction and utilization of plant components has a long history, but it has not formed an independent industry. It was not until the 1970s that some Chinese pharmaceutical companies used machinery to extract traditional Chinese medicine, but it was still only a part of the pharmaceutical industry. Plant extracts is a term that includes modern processing technology. It first emerged in Europe and the United States in the 1980s. Because of the increase in industrialization and the deeper use of resources, plant extracts are gradually being favored by the market for their natural and healthy properties. Limited by technology, we started late in plant extracts, but developed the industry rapidly. The export value of plant extracts of Chinese medicine alone accounted for more than 40% of the total export of Chinese medicine, and the industry is also developing towards a new level featuring high quality and is gradually shifting from the export of single raw material to diversified applications.
The concepts of green consumption and returning to nature have become fashionable consumption. The natural properties of plant based extracts meet the needs of consumers and are conducive to the construction of a sustainable ecological market. Plant extracts are the middle link of the entire industrial chain. The upstream connect with agricultural planting, and the downstream undertake product development and application. The product line is highly variable, and the cost and technical input levels are distinct. It is suitable for plant extract manufacturers at different stages to put into production. Its industrial added value is also high.
Plant extracts are diverse in types and functions. Different type of extract often has different effects, but it can be roughly divided into four categories: Coloring, flavor output, pharmacological effects, and health care functions.
Coloring: Plant pigments are the main components of the color of plants. Some plants have extremely rich pigment content and can be used for pigment extraction. There are dozens of plant pigments available in China, such as curcumin, safflower yellow, red radish, beet, sorghum red, chilli red and so on.
Flavor output: Plant extracts are often rich in characteristic components, which can effectively stimulate the senses, such as sweeteners and volatile substances. Natural sweeteners are currently popular. They not only have outstanding sweetness, but also are ideal substitutes for sucrose, with significant health effects, such as steviol glycosides, mogrosides and so on. Essential oils are concentrated volatile substances, which are often used in the preparation of fragrances. They are also the industry with the lowest application threshold in plant extracts, and the regulations are the least restrictive.
Pharmacological effects: Chinese herbal preparations have a long history of use, and they are more prosperous in Asia. In recent years, driven by the concept of Chinese medicine, they are now well-known in the world. The plant extracts, such as citrus aurantium fructus extract and sophora japonica flower extract, have their own pharmacological effects.
Health care function: The ingredients in plant extracts include glycosides, acids, polyphenols, polysaccharides, terpenes, flavonoids, alkaloids, etc. These ingredients have been proven to have biological activity in research and have an effect that cannot be ignored on human health. The development of its health function has become the mainstream application trend of plant extracts.