The swine flu epidemic that hit Europe and the U.S. is one factor that boosted consumer interest in maintaining a healthy immune system.
Ingredients manufacturers in this space are cashing in on the growing awareness of the potential of immune health ingredients in preventing flu-like symptoms and respiratory infections. In particular, health ingredients that offer cholesterol- and blood pressure-lowering benefits are poised to pick up traction, the report stated. Although blood pressure lowering ingredients are not currently very popular, they are expected to catch up slowly due to improving consumer awareness.
Frost & Sullivan’s “European Market for Nutritional Solutions in Immune and Antihypertensive Health” finds the market earned revenues of nearly $578 million in 2009 and estimates this to reach about $839 million in 2016.
“The sheer extent at which cardiovascular disease (CVD) affects the population in Europe, including those with hypertension, offers significant opportunities for ingredient manufacturers,” said Sneha Pasricha, Frost & Sullivan Senior Research Analyst.
However, the preference for traditional modes of lowering blood pressure such as exercise, weight management, salt reduction, and drugs such as diuretics, beta-blockers, angiotensive converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, calcium channel blockers or vasodilators is hindering market momentum.
Similarly, the immune health ingredients segment is faced with the challenge of rigorous competition that is prevalent among the plethora of such ingredients available in the market. Most of these ingredients are positioned for other health benefits as well. For instance, probiotics and prebiotics are projected primarily as providers of digestive health benefits rather than positive immune health advantages. Such a scenario creates confusion in the minds of consumers and dissuades them from buying such ingredients.
“Besides, regulatory issues pertaining to health claims are limiting innovation and growth in the European Market for Nutritional Solutions in Immune and Antihypertensive Health, like any other health ingredient market in the region,” noted Pasricha. “Health claim regulations in Europe are getting increasingly complex and vague with the Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation adopted in 2006.”
Steps by European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) directed at bringing clarity on the criteria required for positive scientific opinion from the organization with respect to health claims is likely to encourage innovation in the market.
“Manufacturers must make efforts to ramp up awareness levels among consumers about the scientific-backing and the mode of action of their immune and anti-hypertensive health ingredients,” said Pasricha. “Proactive research initiatives by manufacturers supporting their ingredients efficacy, empowered with apt promotional efforts could prove instrumental in increasing consumer/customer trust and acceptance.”