This was particularly the case in urban areas of China, India and some south east Asian countries where affluence is on the rise such as Malaysia and Thailand.
The Dutch ingredients giant’s comments follow a recent Frost & Sullivan report that valued the European heart health ingredients market at €421m in 2007 and growing at 20 per cent.
“One-in two adults have high blood pressure in some European countries such as Germany and Spain,” said Luc van der Heyden, DSM business manager of heart health.
“In China the rate is only one-in-four but it is growing much faster,” van der Heyden said. In North America the rate is about one-in-three.
“North America and Europe remain our biggest markets but Asia is increasingly important as is Eastern Europe which has well-documented heart health problems.”
Van der Heyden noted areas associated with heart health such as blood pressure control were becoming more prominent and had allied its dairy peptide-based ingredient, Tensguard, to this health concern.
He said the clinical backing of Tensguard, which ran to about 20 human trials, and others in the area had gone a long way to boosting the credibility of the heart health category. Many pundits ranked it number one health concern over the past few years and it won the gold award for innovation at the Health Ingredients Europe trade show in Paris last year.
The company has also submitted several article 13 blood pressure-related health claims to the EU.
Tensguard is primarily being used in food supplements, particularly in the US, as well as juices and low-salt soups. Van der Heyden said it was priced at roughly the same level as phytosterols.
The Frost report
The Frost report highlighted four ingredients: phytosterols; omega-3s; beta-glucans and soy protein as being the “big four” in heart health, but noted there was potential for others to gain in prominence.
"Research funds for newer ingredients too bode well for the market," it wrote.
It highlighted phytosterols as being the most successful ingredients in the cardiovascular disease (CVD) and noted the success of products like Unilever’s Flora pro.activ and Benecol which have achieved healthy sales in many European markets.
With an ageing population seeing heart disease rates continuing to soar, there is “immense potential for growth”, the report, which looks back to 2004 and forward to 2014, states. Over-60s are expected to increase from 20 to 25 per cent of the European population by 2020.
According to the European Heart Network cardiovascular disease (CVD) cost €192 billion in health care costs across the 27-member state EU in 2007.
While CVD can be sub-classified into categories such as hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, heart attack and stroke, the Frost research focuses on cholesterol reduction because functional ingredient solutions are most advanced in this area.
Other scientifically backed options Frost highlighted included fibre, antioxidants, green tea, CoEnzymeQ10, folic acid, B12 and selenium, but the big four had achieved greater popularity because of their “gold standard” scientific grounding.