Australian heart health market ripe for education

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nutrition

The Australian market for heart-healthy foods or supplements could be a tough one to crack, but consumer signs indicate that it holds potential for manufacturers willing to make the extra awareness-raising efforts.

Foods and beverages marketed for heart health in Australia were worth US$524m in 2008, and are expected to rise at an annual rate of 4 per cent to reach $637m in 2013, according to market researcher Datamonitor.

However, Australian consumers have still not fully engaged with the concept of maintaining their heart health, which suggests that there is still some work to be done by manufacturers wishing to tap into the market for these products.

Neglecting the heart

According to figures from a recent report by Datamonitor, only one third of Australians surveyed last year said they pay ‘high’ or ‘very high’ attention to their heart health. More than one quarter said they pay ‘low’ or ‘very low’ attention.

This compares to 84 per cent of Australians who believe that diet and nutrition is important for maintaining overall wellbeing, and 59 per cent who claimed to have recently taken some steps to eat healthily.

In claims we trust…

The way products are marketed for heart health also forms part of the equation, with consumers being wary of claims made on product labels.

Only one third of consumers said they found food and beverages claiming to improve heart health to be trustworthy. Some 15 per cent said thy found these products untrustworthy.

Similar results are apparent when considering foods claiming to actively lower cholesterol (32 per cent trustworthy, 14 per cent untrustworthy). However, when foods and beverages made ‘calorie burning’ claims, only 14 per cent found the claims trustworthy, with 37 per cent choosing not to believe them, said Datamonitor.

“Australians remain skeptical about the credibility of such products, especially those which tout calorie-burning properties,”​ said Mark Whalley, Datamonitor consumer analyst.

Slow but steady

“Despite this, there has been an overall increase in interest in products that are heart healthy. Omega 3 has emerged as an ingredient which consumers are familiar with, and foods which claim to be low in saturated fats or low in cholesterol are increasingly popular.”

The report, published in February this year and entitled Opportunities in Heart Health: Consumer Attitudes & Behaviors,​ also found that 42 per cent of Australians said they pay a high level of attention to the amount of fat that they consume, while 36 per cent pay a high level of attention to the type of fats that they consume.

According to the World Health Organization, cardiovascular diseases resulted in 17.5m deaths in 2005. If the trend is not reversed, estimates suggest that this figure could rise to 20.5m by 2020.

Datamonitor predicts that over a quarter of children in Australia will be overweight or obese by 2013.

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