Figures suggest China has the world’s largest diabetes epidemic, with around 114,000 people diagnosed equating to 11.6% of adults.
According to Datamonitor Consumer’s 2014 global survey, 22% of consumers in China have concerns about the possibility of diabetes in their future.
In October, one domestic company Tianjin Alpha Health Care Products launched two products specifically targeting consumers with diabetics – a cereal and biscuit, according to the research firm’s latest Innovation Tracking report.
Ghina Romani, food and drink researcher at Datamonitor Consumer, said both products plugged a market gap brimming with promise.
“The rate of diabetes in China is a growing and because of that, there’s a very big market demand and I think there’s a big, big opportunity for manufacturers to invest more in launching products targeting diabetes,” she told BakeryandSnacks.com.
“As long as we see more people being diagnosed with this disease, then the area is definitely promising.”
Health claims and scientific backing
However, Romani warned that any manufacturer looking to develop products for this segment would need to back it with sound science and be able to make on-pack health claims.
Globally, 48% of consumers somewhat or completely consider food products with claims to be trustworthy, Datamonitor Consumer findings suggest.
“[Manufacturers] need to have health claims on their packaging to make it clear for consumers that this product is targeting diabetes or what kind of formula or ingredients it contains to suit these consumers. As we found, almost half of consumers worldwide consider those claims as something they really trust, so it’s really important for manufacturers to highlight on the packaging,” she said.
Using claims front-of-pack would attract relevant consumers in a busy marketplace, she added.
Working in collaboration with a scientific association or body could help significantly, she said. “People will trust the product more – it would be more than just claims… But it should definitely be an institution or name that consumers trust.”
Marketing will be crucial
Beyond on-pack claims, Romani said manufacturers would have to be clever with the product marketing.
“The product has to seem as mainstream as possible but appealing to those with diabetes. It’s about them feeling like other consumers…The ingredients formula could be medical, but the way they need to market it should be clever.”