By Dr Tomislav Meštrović, MD, PhD
Nutraceuticals are products isolated from foods that are generally sold in medicinal forms. They are defined as any food (or part thereof) which provides health benefits – including prevention and treatment of disease – in addition to the basic nutritional value found in foodstuff. Nutraceuticals are of particular interest as a way to reduce the expensive, high-tech disease treatment approaches currently employed in developed countries.
The nutraceutical industry represents a dynamic, evolving entity that offers novel opportunities to merge scientific discovery with growing consumer interest in health-enhancing foods. It tracks and monitors consumer trends, thus the products of this industry can represent a direct response to their demands. The nutraceutical industry encompasses three main segments which include functional foods, dietary supplements, and herbal/natural products.
Global demand for nutraceuticals
The global nutraceutical market has experienced maximum growth in the last decade. Although nutraceuticals as an industry emerged in the early 1990s, the world has witnessed its explosive growth in the first decade of this century. From 1999 to 2002 the industry grew at an annual average growth rate of 7.3 percent, while in this century the rate doubled to 14.7 percent.
Today, global nutraceutical market is estimated at 117 billion USD. Personalization and customization are current trends in the development of nutraceuticals, especially in developed markets of the world. Investment in research and development to find innovative approaches, verifying health claims of the products and market research represent key strategies for the industry.
A primary impetus for such growth is consumer demand; consumers are looking to follow healthy lifestyles and obtain optimum nutrition to keep diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity at bay. Although the US, European Union and India are currently the world's largest nutraceuticals markets, China is likely to surpass them all by 2030.
Industry in different countries
The US nutraceutical market still represents the largest nutraceutical market in the world. Companies are looking to diversify their products and move towards natural nutraceutical ingredients in their product offering. The latter is a consequence of the push from US consumers, who are extremely health conscious and demand specific ingredients in the products they consume.
The market for nutraceuticals in Europe is witnessing heavy consolidation, with a focus on innovation and new product development. A result is a considerable increase in research and development – from 0.24% at the beginning of the century to 1 percent in 2010. Germany, Netherlands and Sweden have emerged as the key nutraceutical innovation hubs of Europe, whereas Spain and Great Britain act as decisive test markets for new products.
According to a recent report, total market for nutraceuticals in India is growing at 21 percent per year. It is currently a nascent market trying to incorporate traditional herbal ingredients (most often ayurvedic) into the nutraceutical portfolio. Still, its growth has surpassed global rates in recent years, mostly driven by functional food and beverages categories.
Last Updated: Mar 30, 2015