Special Edition: Brain-boosting ingredients

Global brain health market pushing $2bn mark as Asia and supplements shine

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Brain health Vitamin Nutrition

Asia leads the way in food and drink brain health-based products
Asia leads the way in food and drink brain health-based products
Sales of brain health boosting food supplements like omega-3s, the B vitamin group, vitamin C and phosphatidylserine are driving the category toward sales of €2bn globally, even as brain-boosting foods and beverages have endured a flat period.

Euromonitor International figures put the global brain health food supplements market at $1.39bn (€1.02bn) in 2012 and steadily ticking upwards from $1.125bn (€823m) in 2007. That’s 23% growth over the period.

Foods and beverages are performing more slowly from a smaller base and are dominated by Asian sales. In fact the global brain health foods and drinks market has been shrinking marginally for several years but has returned to positive growth (just) this year according to Euromonitor.

Its food and beverage figures put the global market at $504.7m (€369m) this year, up from $500.9m (€366.5m) in 2012 but still considerably lower than a 2009 peak of $569m (€416m).

Combined with supplement sales, that makes a global market of about $1.9bn (€1.39bn) in 2012.

Regionally, in foods and drinks, Asia accounted for $330.8m (€242m) of the $504.7m (€369m) in 2012. North America was worth $127.8m (€93.45m) while Europe’s market was valued at just $26.7m (€19.52m).

“…short-term tangible benefits…”

Euromonitor analyst Diana Cowland commented recently that the foods and beverages market could benefit if the focus was on, “short-term tangible benefits, such as promoting improved memory and concentration, to remove scepticism.”

But the analyst predicted the world market would only rise by about $10m to $515.1m (€376.67m) in the next five years.  

Claims along these lines have been approved recently in the European Union for vitamin B forms and vitamin C joining other nutrients like omega-3 form DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) in cognitive boosting potential. These can only benefit the sector and area already being skillfully employed by the likes of Red Bull​.

Other EU-approved nutrients for cognitive function include iodine, iron, magnesium, calcium and zinc. Oh and water.

Phosphatidylserine has an approved claim in the US and other claims for these and other nutrients are permitted in other parts of the world including FOSHU claims in Japan and as part of a new list of approved claims in China.

One sector with room for potential growth is medical foods with Cowland noting Danone’s Souvenaid, launched in the past 12 months in the UK and targeted specifically at those with early signs of dementia.

“Whilst not strictly a food/drink product it showcases the interest and growing involvement of multinational food and drink players in brain health, particularly in regards to dementia, which is at present, an incurable disease,”​ she said.

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