SARS-CoV-2 and the associated respiratory disease COVID-19 represent the gravest public health emergency since the 1918-1919 H1N1 flu, the deadliest pandemic of the 20th century, which experts estimated infected a third of the population at that time.
Facing a highly infectious pathogen that researchers are still trying to fully understand, U.S. consumers in 2020 stockpiled what they deemed essential supplies. That included traditional immune health supplements like vitamin C, zinc, Echinacea and elderberry, as well as other supplements like multivitamins, vitamin D, and melatonin.
For example, according to IRI data, for the first week of March, compared to the same period in 2019, sales were up 146% for vitamin C, 255% for zinc, 415% for elderberry, and 122% for Echinacea.
Natural health products and nutritional supplements have been on the upswing for years. But with the economy stalled, and many important supply chain links severed, the long-term forecast for virtually every aspect of business remains uncertain. Still, many experts suggested the public health threat has illuminated the critical importance of health throughout the lifespan, while emphasizing the value of prevention.
And as people adapt to isolation and anxiety, what it means to be “healthy” may be different for everyone.
“The coronavirus pandemic has put health at the forefront,” said Francesca de Rensis, marketing director, Indena S.p.A. “Not only has this resulted in significant sales increases for immune and respiratory health products, it also has created a halo effect in other health categories that are also performing better. Given this, it is likely to have a positive impact for a long time as individuals seek to manage their own health through self-care.”
Herb and supplement use has long since moved into the mainstream, but the sudden increase of sales indicates the COVID-19 health crisis has motivated people to get serious about their supplement compliance, said Shaheen Majeed, president worldwide, Sabinsa. “What impact this current, unprecedented health crisis will have on consumer behavior long-term remains to be seen. Will we all be washing our hands this thoroughly in 10 years? It would make sense that health is more precious to us all.”
The current global climate has created a “heightened awareness” for well-being and generally maintaining healthy lifestyles, said June Lin, senior director/head of global marketing, Lonza. “Consumers around the globe are proactively doing their own research and exploring ways to feel better on a day-to-day basis.”
However, it can be challenging for consumers to know which products are truly effective, Lin added. “For consumers of any age right now, but particularly for older generations, the priority is to find science-backed solutions they can trust, that also align with their evolving values and meet their needs and goals, both now and in the future. For many consumers, including ‘aspirationals,’ they are increasingly looking for cleaner, clearer labels, plant-based, sustainably sourced and responsibly made products.”
Faced with their own mortality, many perceptions of what it means to be “healthy” have been altered, perhaps permanently, said Chris Fields, vice president of scientific affairs, Applied Food Sciences Inc. “The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that those with compromised underlying health conditions can be at a much higher risk of the dramatic impacts of this virus. Maintaining overall health and wellness is the key to a healthy recovery.”
COVID-19 has also exposed cracks in the healthcare system, Fields added. “Consequently, even the healthiest of people are seeking more supplemental support for their immune health, and we have seen a surge in consumer behavior to support that.”
Top Areas of Aging
The World Health Organization has estimated that more than 71% of all global deaths are attributed to lifestyle-related chronic diseases, noted Jia Zhang Lee, managing director, Davos Life Science Sdn. Bhd. Prevention of issues like heart disease, cancer, respiratory illnesses, and diabetes is paramount. “These types of diseases are the result of cumulative damage in the body due to prolonged exposure to oxidative stress and low-grade chronic inflammation caused by our modern lifestyles,” he said.
Still, what health means to an individual consumer evolves throughout life, according to Brian Appell, marketing manager, OmniActive Health Technologies. “For example, the idea of cognitive health can have an entirely different meaning for a millennial, who may be looking to improve alertness and focus to stay productive vs. a baby boomer whose interest may be to preserve cognitive function and preserve their memory.”
While broad health categories like energy, cognition, active wellness, and metabolic health are important and appealing today, within those contexts, “there is an entire spectrum of health benefits that resonate with consumers depending on their life stage.”
Areas like heart health and digestive wellness have been consistent priorities for consumers, according to Vaughn Dubow, marketing manager Americas, Lonza. But in recent years, interest has been rising for some other health areas. For example, according to proprietary research conducted by the Natural Marketing Institute and commissioned by Lonza, (2019 SORD report), between 2009 and 2018 there has been a 54% increase in the number of consumers who are looking for supplements to support their immune response.
“And with the current global situation this has increased yet further,” said Dubow. “We have also seen a 56% increase in consumers across all age groups who seek nutritional support for mental health. For today’s younger consumers specifically, our research shows that energy management is key.”
Lonza research also shows a rapidly-growing group of so-called “aspirational” consumers, who are defined by the importance they place on both responsible consumption and healthy living. “These aspirational values appear to be important to a rising number of individuals at all stages of life, which is driving demand for solutions that not only meet their health goals but also their lifestyles and broader values,” said Dubow.
With age, joint health and maintaining mobility remain high priorities in aging populations, he added. “Indeed, our research also indicates that 37% of boomers are likely to choose supplements that support joint mobility. Joints can also undergo wear and tear as a result of prolonged exercise over time, which means that active consumers now increasingly seek supplement options that help to proactively support their joint health.”
Majeed said people generally aspire to ensure their body functions well throughout life into old age, encompassing, joint, heart, and brain health, for example. “An interesting development in recent years is younger consumers, millennials and below, view supplements as part of a normal healthy life, perhaps because they grew up post-DSHEA,” he said, referring to the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, which set the legal framework for the industry.
“So while older consumers may seek out brain support herbs as they begin to experience ‘senior moments,’ younger consumers first learned about them during college exams. Compliance may improve with age, however, and more frequent experiences that climbing stairs might hurt a little, highlighting the need for joint health support.”
Understanding the role diet and nutrition play in supporting health is an ongoing process, considering how much preferences evolve with age, noted Fields. “For instance, a younger person may be most interested in energizing their school day, building muscle, or other lifestyle dietary fads. But as they age into their 30s, they may prioritize stress management, weight management, and sexual health. The focus may continue to develop over time to heart health, digestion, sleep support, or even abating degenerative health conditions.
Lisa Riedell, senior director of marketing, Alfasigma, agreed that younger consumers are being more proactive in establishing routines that address their long-term health. “As a result, categories such as heart health have shifted to include new markets such as those with early interest in addressing cardiac health and related preventative measures. Thus, the age-related perspective has shifted towards solutions that are relevant throughout an individual’s lifespan.”
Consumers have also become more “holistic” in their perspective of health, she added. “They no longer view categories such as cognitive health, eye health, and heart health, etc., in isolation. Consumers are interested in elevating their overall health and wellness by addressing these concerns simultaneously.”
Physical, social, and mental/emotional needs create a triangle of health that people must balance throughout life, said Katie Ferren, vice president, sales and marketing, Blue California. “According to a Gallup poll, common health concerns for most people include physical activity, nutrition, obesity, disease, and mental health. As we move through different stages of life, our health needs may cause one aspect to be more important than others. As we get older, the balance of the triangle often shifts in one direction,” potentially leading to imbalance.
For example, she said, “someone who has cardiovascular disease will be focused on addressing physical health, whereas someone who has mild cognitive impairment might be more concerned about mental and emotional health.”
Based on International Food Information Council surveys, the areas of health that are most important to people of all ages are cardiovascular health, weight management, energy, brain function, disease prevention, digestive health, and muscle health, noted Lisa Pitchford, research scientist, Metabolic Technologies, LLC.
“As individuals age, their priorities shift slightly. Muscle health and mobility are even more important to adults over 50, ranking second only to cardiovascular health. Energy and brain function (including cognition, memory, and focus) remain high priorities for older adults while weight loss/weight management becomes less of a focus with age. Although muscle health (e.g., strength, function, and mobility) was identified as a specific health concern across age groups, improving muscle health can also benefit many other health areas.”
For example, multiple studies have identified links between muscle mass and cardiovascular health where more muscle mass decreases the risk of developing heart disease over time. “Building and maintaining muscle mass is also beneficial for weight loss and weight maintenance, as muscle burns more calories both at rest and during activity. Higher levels of muscle strength and function may also increase perceived energy, as having a higher ‘reserve’ of strength can make daily activities such as carrying groceries, cleaning, or climbing stairs feel easier.
Speaking of joint health, Steve Fink, vice president, marketing, PLT Health Solutions said there’s an increasing focus on the effect of joint pain developing from sedentary lifestyles, “and a corresponding downward spiral wherein that sedentary lifestyle in turn contributes to weight gain, which ultimately further exacerbates wear and tear on joints.”
All these factors should point to a rapidly growing market for solutions for joint health, he continued. “And they do, for the pharmaceutical industry. In the last 15 years, spending on joint health has grown at 10% plus per year overall. Yet we see that natural solutions lag far behind those from the pharmaceutical industry. Pharmaceutical spending on joint health increased 11.5 times in the years between 1999 and 2014, while on natural solutions, it only increased 2.15 times,” he said citing data from Nutrition Business Journal (2016).
Fink said an important issue that may explain lackluster sales in this this burgeoning space is the “time to efficacy” for many common natural ingredients. With few exceptions, the time for a dietary supplement to affect improvement in joint health is often over 60 days. “When the top alternatives to natural ingredients are drugs and Advil, can natural products with long times to efficacy really compete?”
According to Tim Hammond, vice president of marketing & sales, Bergstrom Nutrition, healthy aging requires an inside-out approach. “Throughout all life stages, participating in exercise that includes cardiovascular and resistance training is important for maintaining overall health. Plus, the nutritional steps an individual chooses to address through their dietary choices (such as weight, joint support, strength, immunity, cognitive function) never waiver in importance throughout life.”
Consumers understand the importance of a holistic approach to health and wellness as they age, said Sébastien Bornet, vice president of global sales and marketing, Horphag Research. This is one of the reasons why consumers are doing more research than ever on supplements and ingredients. “They’re more interested in learning about how an ingredient works for their health, so there is a greater emphasis on research that shows the mechanisms of action of an ingredient,” he said. “With more than 450 scientific publications including 160+ clinical trials, our flagship ingredient Pycnogenol French maritime pine bark extract, offers unique healthy aging properties.”
Nutrition’s Starring Role in Health
For general wellness consumers, whose primary interest may be to fill nutrition gaps in their diet, vitamins, minerals, and specialty nutrients like omega-3s and lutein are commonplace, said Appell. “The science here is irrefutable; they’re needed to optimize your health.”
For so-called “health managers,” who are addressing conditions or preconditions like macular degeneration or joint pain/inflammation, compelling research supports the role supplements play beyond general health. “Macular carotenoids, for example, are critical nutrients for protecting against macular degeneration and may even slow progression of existing AMD,” said Appell. Meanwhile, “wellness” managers may be more interested in performance than prevention.
Overall, nutrients serve different purposes for varying consumers. “Their concerns or goals may fall into the same big category bucket, but their specific needs can be very different.” Consequently, it’s important for science and product development to acknowledge and address those unique needs, he said.
“Nutrition products play an important role in helping people manage health concerns,” said de Rensis, and science continues to demonstrate benefits. “Meriva Curcumin Phytosome now has over 30 human studies in 10 different conditions involving over 2,000 participants. From joint to eye health along with supportive care and discomfort relief, Meriva provides lifelong support so that your body’s natural response does not turn into low-level chronic inflammation.”
Clinical proof of efficacy is very important to 52% of U.S. supplement users, according to NMI’s SORD data, while 58% seek “unquestionable” safety from their products.
“For that reason, at Lonza our product portfolio is supported by randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials which demonstrate efficacy in statistically significant terms,” said Shane Durkee, vice president of platform innovations, R&D, Lonza. “Robust science supports both ingredient claims, as well as supplement design in terms of efficacious dosage.”
As research on herbs and supplements has become much more in depth, new and expanded benefits are uncovered, increasing the range of conditions for which they are targeted, said Majeed. “For example, at one time curcumin was thought of as a joint health ingredient primarily because that was what the research at the time focused upon. Over time, the research looked at other conditions that have inflammation as a component, and found heart health, brain function and many other positive health effects. There have been studies published on our Curcumin C3 Complex investigating its autoimmune and cancer fighting properties, psoriasis mitigation, alleviating depression, and other conditions that become increasingly likely with age.”
Not surprisingly, immune health is at the forefront of everyone’s mind, amid the threat of COVID-19, said Guy Woodman, general manager, Euromed USA, Inc.
“We know that nutritional status and the resistance to disease is directly correlated,” he said. “For example, the important immune gland, the thymus, maintains cellular immunity and manifests increased dysfunction with advancing age often associated with declining nutritional status. The thymus produces T-cells that mediate immunity and its loss of function has been associated with a higher incidence of chronic degenerative diseases of the elderly, like cancer, vascular injury, and autoimmune complex diseases.”
Woodman also noted that “immunosenescence” is the gradual deterioration of the immune system that occurs with aging. “The hallmarks of an aging immune system are reduced resistance to infection, reduced efficacy of vaccinations, and development of age-related diseases. Immunological health declines with age; we do not produce immune fighting cells as readily and the activity of those cells diminishes.”
Nutritional products and supplements can play a leading role in managing those concerns, he continued. “There is a close connection between the intake of bioactive nutrients in food and supplements that modulate the rate of immunosenescence. Also, specific botanical supplements are known to have antimicrobial properties that can prove beneficial to reduce the risk of viral infections and associated secondary bacterial infections.”
For example, a study published in 2020 in Nanowires found that Euromed’s olive leaf extract inhibits the growth of Listeria monocytogenes. “Researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture who conducted the study are interested in identifying potential antimicrobials that can be incorporated into foods and food packaging,” noted Woodman.
Inflammation can also influence the rate of immunosenescence. Several clinical trials have found that Euromed’s pomegranate extract, Pomanox, helps modulate a healthy inflammatory response, Woodman said. “Pomegranate has the largest bioactive phenolic molecules found in nature, punicalagins, that reduce inflammation and enhance immune response.”
Ferren agreed that immune health has become a higher priority given the threat of the coronavirus. “This prioritization towards supporting immune health further increases with the aging population or people with underlying health conditions, as they are at greater risk with higher consequences.” Supplements like elderberry, vitamin C, Echinacea, zinc, and quercetin could prove valuable, she said.
“Maintaining a strong immune system is particularly important for older adults, as immune health response naturally declines with age,” noted Durkee. Lonza’s ResistAid arabinogalactan is designed to support a healthy, natural immune function, he added.
Mobility & Muscle
Throughout the aging process, mobility becomes key, as it underlies the ability to perform essential tasks of daily living necessary for independence, said Hammond. “The research conducted on OptiMSM (methylsulfonylmethane) suggests multiple healthy aging benefits, as MSM supports joints, mobility, and overall appearance.
“People are discovering how science-based products can aid their quality of life,” he said, “helping them remain independent and active, while adding a bonus through nourishing connective tissues that also influence appearance (skin, hair and nails).”
MSM is a rich source of sulfur—a key component of collagen and keratin that supports the structural integrity of hair, skin, and nails. Research has shown MSM to bolster glutathione levels, alleviate oxidative stress, and protect against immune depletion that results post-exercise, Hammond said. OptiMSM supplementation also supports the body’s natural balance and healthy inﬂammatory and immune responses.
“OptiMSM supports all of us as we age by protecting muscles and joints from the wear-and-tear of an active lifestyle, maintaining our ability to remain active over a lifetime.”
Two clinical trials in adults aged 40 and older have demonstrated a unique mechanism of action for Lonza’s UC-II undenatured type II collagen, which offers joint mobility benefits for healthy adults, and also specifically for people with osteoarthritis (Nutrition Journal, 2016; International Journal of Medical Sciences, 2009). “As such, supplementation with UC-II brand is beneficial for healthy aging,” said Durkee.
For active consumers’ health needs, Lonza’s MuscleGuard formula has been shown to support muscle strength, mass, and activity in healthy older adults, independent from diet and exercise (Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 2017).
Because muscle health has wide-ranging benefits, adding a nutritional supplement proven to support muscle health can help manage a number of concerns, according to Pitchford. “β-hydroxy β-methylbutyrate (HMB) supplementation improves the balance of protein synthesis to protein degradation and enhances muscle mass and function. Numerous scientific studies of HMB support its effectiveness in a variety of consumers, including both young and older adults.”
Supplementation with HMB has been shown to enhance muscle mass, muscle strength, muscle quality, and physical function, she added. “In addition to the direct strength and function benefits, improvements in muscle health likely support healthy aging more broadly, as muscle health is associated with a number of other health outcomes.”
AprèsFlex Joint Health Support is the flagship of PLT Health Solution’s “AKBA-Franchise,” which also includes 5-LOXIN and Aqualox. AKBA stands for 3-O-acetyl-11-keto-β-boswellic acid, which is thought to be the key active compound in PLT’s proprietary Boswellia serrata extracts, said Fink. “These three ingredients have been developed to give consumer health product formulators targeting options in delivering relief of joint discomfort. Taken together, the PLT AKBA franchise are the main ingredients in some of the world’s top selling joint health formulations for the last decade—including the #1 selling Osteo Bi-Flex line in the U.S.”
Because of their performance, clinical science, and the recognition that joint discomfort can negatively impact physical activity (and therefore health) across all age groups, “these ingredients are more relevant than ever before,” said Fink.
The fast-acting performance of AprèsFlex is unique in the natural joint health market, Fink added, noting joint pain relief beginning at 5 days from a 100-mg dose.
At a fundamental level, people want to live healthier, longer lives, noted Marianne McDonagh, vice president of sales, Bioenergy Life Science (BLS). “Especially during times of severe uncertainty, stress management is critical. Nutritional products and dietary supplements can play a key role.”
The goal for nutritional supplementation in times of stress is to increase production of ATP and NAD, she added. BLS’ line of branded ingredients, specifically Bioenergy Ribose and RiaGev, were developed to help satisfy these needs.
“The science of stress tells us that free radical production is a natural process. Stress events act like a power surge. The question is whether we have a surge protector to prevent permanent damage to the device, or in this case, the cell.”
As people depend on nutrition products and dietary supplements to help boost cellular energy and NAD production, finished products should contain scientifically proven, effective, clean ingredients, McDonagh added. “As important, they should be designed and formulated to work at the cellular level. BLS’ RiaGev is the perfect solution to meet these demands. RiaGev is more efficient than other products for NAD production because it uniquely enters the pathway directly, requiring fewer steps to produce NAD.”
Applied Food Sciences has been studying “senolytics,” a branch of research that targets the understanding of senescent cells, according to Fields.
“Senescent cells are those which have stopped dividing, and their accumulation has been associated with accelerated aging through mitochondrial cells in the body,” he noted. “AFS, along with a few other anti-aging based research teams around the globe, is starting to document the discovery of increased expression of pro-survival networks in senescent cells with many plant-based compounds that target these networks.”
Mitochondrial function is unique because of its relevance to overall health, according to Riedell. As a result, antioxidant supplements and ingredients such as L-carnitine have become increasingly popular in the healthy aging category.
“Consumers of all ages have looked to antioxidants for their ability to defend cells from damage caused by harmful free radicals,” she said. “Free radicals are unstable atoms that result when an oxygen molecule splits into single atoms with unpaired electrons. When free radicals accumulate, they can cause oxidative stress within the body. Antioxidants have been found to have a beneficial effect in helping to neutralize free radicals, which is one reason why both consumers and manufacturers have begun to seek antioxidant remedies beyond those that are naturally occurring in a healthy diet.”
L-carnitine ingredients, such as MitoCarn can help transfer nutrients, such as long-chain fatty acids, across cell boundaries into the mitochondrial energy sources, said Riedell. “Greater nutrient transfer results in enhanced mitochondria function, which in turn provides energy to the body as well as increased antioxidant protection.”
While L-carnitine is naturally produced in the body by the liver and kidneys, supplementation can be important to maintain beneficial levels. “MitoCarn is a pure form of L-carnitine that can help prevent the poorly functioning mitochondria in the body from imposing oxidative stress on parent cells, and thus supporting healthy aging,” Riedell said. “During the aging process, mitochondria are constantly replicated because of their short lifespan. However, DNA replication can weaken the mitochondria and compromise optimal cellular functioning. This causes ongoing oxidative stress on parent cells which accelerates the aging process. MitoCarn supports healthy mitochondrial replication which can help manage the replication damage commonly associated with aging.”
Longevity concerns are expanding markets in the dietary supplement industry, according to Bornet, and numerous studies on Pycnogenol demonstrate the antioxidant’s benefits for healthy aging. “Pycnogenol has four basic properties: it’s a powerful antioxidant, acts as a natural anti-inflammatory, helps generate collagen and hyaluronic acid, and aids in the production of endothelial nitric oxide which helps to improve blood flow.”
A study published in Minerva Medica in 2018 showed that Pycnogenol was effective in improving symptoms of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) in individuals between the ages of 55 and 70.
Poor eating habits have contributed to an obesity epidemic in the U.S., noted Ferren. According to the CDC, about a third of U.S. adults are obese and approximately 17% of children are as well. “A poor diet is also associated with major health risks that can cause illness and even death. These include heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and certain types of cancer. By making smart food choices now, people can help protect themselves from these health problems in the future,” said Ferren.
But many people struggle to eat a balanced diet. “This is one area where a multivitamin supplement can provide insurance that proper vitamins and minerals are being consumed,” she added. “Antioxidants may also be useful to the body for combating oxidative stress, a cellular imbalance that results from a poor diet and unhealthy lifestyle as well as exposure to environmental toxins. This can lead to chronic inflammation that can ultimately result in cancer and other diseases associated with aging.”
In a 2019 study published in the International Journal on Cancer, researchers tracked the diets of over 35,000 men over 12 years and found those that consumed higher amounts of mushrooms weekly had a lower incidence of prostate cancer. “The researchers believed an antioxidant called ergothioneine found in the mushrooms was the key in reducing the incidence of prostate cancer in men,” said Ferren.
Another study on an elderly population group showed that ergothioneine levels declined in subjects beyond 60 years of age, and are significantly decreased (relative to age-matched subjects) with onset of MCI. This decline suggests that deficiency in ergothioneine may be a risk factor predisposing individuals to neurodegenerative diseases. “The science indicates eating a diet rich in mushrooms or taking an ergothioneine supplement may help support healthy aging,” said Ferren.
Many chronic diseases have a basis in chronic oxidative stress and inflammation, noted Lee, at Davos Life Science. “For example, oxidation of LDL is a step that leads to the development of atherosclerosis. Dietary supplements, particularly those that can help in the management of oxidative stress and inflammation have the potential of reducing the risk of developing these chronic diseases later on in life.”
Tocotrienols, which are members of the vitamin E family, are particularly suited toward this end, he continued. “Tocotrienols are potent antioxidants with strong anti-inflammatory properties. Tocotrienols have unsaturated side chains, a property which makes it particularly efficient at neutralizing free radicals in cell membranes.”
Tocotrienols manifest their anti-inflammatory effects via modulating key signaling pathways that involve nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kβ), cyclooxygenase 2 (COX2), and tumor necrosis factor (TNF), Lee said. “Moreover, these properties are backed with more than 30 years of research studies.”
Science has shown that supplementation with tocotrienols can reduce the amounts of triglycerides and LDL by up to 25% (Atherosclerosis, 2002), he added. “It helps to lower triglyceride amounts by reducing the production of and transport of triglycerides in cells. It also inhibits the production of a key enzyme involved in cholesterol synthesis (Journal of Biological Chemistry, 1993), and its role as an anti-inflammatory agent provides benefits to also lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. A clinical study has reported that supplementing tocotrienols daily has reduced total cholesterol by 20% and LDL by 25% (Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 2001).”
In adults with diabetes, the most common causes of death are heart disease and stroke. Researchers from Davos Life Science and Australia have investigated the effect of tocotrienols in metabolic syndrome. Results showed tocotrienols improved glucose tolerance by 25% and insulin tolerance by more than 50%, Lee noted. “Improvement in ventricular function, cardiac stiffness and hypertension have been observed as well (European Journal of Nutrition, 2017). Tocotrienols reduce homocysteine in blood which is an important contributor to cardiovascular disease and confer potent resistance to ischemia (the loss of blood flow) if a vessel does become blocked in the development of heart attack or stroke (Stroke, 2011).”
At the end of the day, consumers want results, said Majeed. “When they choose and take a specific supplement, it is with the expectation they will experience the health benefits promised, even if just by implication. This is why it’s so important for customer loyalty and repeat purchases that a product be formulated with clinically proven ingredients and using the amounts the research indicated
Quality and science-backed ingredients continue to be important, said Appell. Sustainably sourced and responsibly produced products also continue to influence purchase decisions. “Perhaps most important is developing claims/benefits that are relevant for the consumer’s needs at certain points in his or her life. So, science-backed needs to also be science-specific to support unique claims.”
Ramon Luna, marketing coordinator, Ecuadorian Rainforest LLC, said product efficacy, sustainability, and a strong social message can help brands succeed. “Of course consumers want to know their supplements are having a positive effect. This is why it’s important for manufacturers to thoroughly test their products and market them accordingly.”
He also noted a 2019 study from NYU Stern’s Center for Sustainable Business that evaluated U.S. purchasing of consumer packaged goods (CPG), using data contributed by IRI. Overall, 50% of CPG growth from 2013 to 2018 came from sustainability-marketed products, despite representing only 16.6% of the category. Sustainability-marketed products also grew 5.6 times faster than their counterparts based on 5-year CAGR.
“Consumers also like products they can show off to their circle of friends and family,” said Luna. “This is especially true if the product sends a strong social message such as that of unity, social responsibility, and the like.”
Consumers want easy, fast-acting solutions they can trust for their aging-related issues, according to Fink. “That means a lower dose and solid clinical science need to be there. Another issue is product form or delivery system. Increasingly, consumers prefer non-pill approaches to getting the support they want and need. That means ingredients are going to need to be water-soluble and at the very least neutral tasting, so they can be incorporated into products like beverages, gummies, stick packs, and more.”
In addition to scientific support, Ferren, said consumers want dietary supplements that have been tested for purity. “There is an increasing desire for supplements to also be non-GMO and sustainably sourced,” she added.
Lin noted Lonza’s data showed 80% of dietary supplement consumers indicate that knowing the source of ingredients is important when making a purchasing decision. As such, supplements which are plant-based, clean-label or naturally-derived are of increasing interest to consumers of all ages.
“At the same time, safety, quality, and transparency are also rapidly rising up the ranks in consumer priorities,” she said. “Plant-based or responsibly-sourced, science-backed ingredients and the latest capsule and dosage form technologies help brands and manufacturers deliver on these expectations.”
With busy lives at home and at work, consumers want convenience too. “Indeed, our research showed that capsules are the preferred delivery method for 42% of U.S. supplement users thanks to their convenience and ability to support their health goals,” Lin continued. “The convenience of capsules can be extended by offering combination products, featuring multiple ingredients in a single dosage form. Lonza’s DUOCAP capsule-in-a-capsule technology enables the delivery of multiple or incompatible ingredients in a single, easy-to-swallow dosage form. Coni-Snap sprinkle capsules, meanwhile, enable a capsule fill to be sprinkled over food or drink, for the convenience of consumers who have difficulty swallowing, for example older adults.”
The nutraceuticals industry has matured to a point where consumers “should not settle for anything less than science-based products that are safe, effective, and clean label,” said McDonagh. “BLS has insisted on adhering to these same criteria for our branded ingredients since our beginning in the 1980s. We don’t believe in developing anything we wouldn’t take ourselves.”
According to de Rensis, people want to be assured their nutrition products will have a biological effect. “They also want to feel better through improved nutrition. Meriva from Indena has over 30 human studies covering a broad range of health conditions. Meriva offers an effective, safe solution to help consumers maintain an active lifestyle and high quality of life over a lifetime.”
Consumers will likely continue to support brands with validated claims, noted Riedell. As the focus on health and wellness is compounded by the pandemic, consumers may also seek greater transparency and security from trusted brands. “Because MitoCarn has been able to maintain and exceed exceptional quality and research standards, it is largely considered to be a premium and trusted brand. Every aspect of the production of MitoCarn is clearly documented and made available to customers, which includes batch specific certificates of analysis (COA) confirming test methods, as well as declarations which show the absence of toxins, pesticides, allergens, GMO, irradiation, and nanomaterials. MitoCarn is also backed by 31 process patents and over 100 clinical studies for safety and function.”
In recent years, consumers have been more actively searching for safe, natural products, noted Lee. “In view of the expected global economic recession brought about by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it is expected that household budgets will be constrained and consumers will be looking for products that can multitask as well, so that they can have maximum value for the money spent.
Dietary supplements, such as tocotrienols, are ingredients that can fit into this need because they are safe, natural, and efficacious with positive impacts on various parts of the body’s overall health. Consumers will also be looking towards reaping these health benefits via functional food and beverages, versus reaping these health benefits via taking more pills.”