Asia-Pacific catching up fast on new supplement launches

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock

Related tags Nutrition

Emerging markets have been witnessing rising demand for dietary supplements as increasing disposable incomes and a desire to take on elements of a more Western lifestyle have become apparent. 

This trend is being led by Asia, and especially fast-developing China, whose large population is increasingly able to afford this type of product, according to Innova Market Insights, which has released a global survey of the supplements market. 

Compared to first-placed North America, which accounted for over 42% of global supplement launch activity in 2015, the share of Asian supplement launches reached 16%—up from just over 11% two years previously. Europe came second with just under 30% of new product launches.

Innova found increasing consumer concerns about the adverse effects of busy lifestyles and stress on health, as well as rising demand from an ageing population, was behind a global increase in launches. 

It said that consumers around the world are increasingly using supplements for areas of their lives perceived to need additional support, as well as taking them to improve their diet.

Other factors driving the market include growing availability, the range of new products and formats appearing and an increased focus on branding, rather than just promoting specific ingredients and their potential benefits​,” said Lu Ann Williams of Innova. 

An growing range of ingredients have been used in product launches, though general vitamin and mineral products have continued to dominate, accounting for 28% of 2015 total launches, ahead of botanical and herbal products, which came in at nearly 14%.

Methods of delivery have also changed in the sector, with a move away from supplements in the form of tablets and capsules, and towards alternative easier-to-consume formats, such as powders and liquids. 

There has also been growing interest in products that straddle the boundary between supplements and foods, with dose-delivery probiotic drinks, such as Yakult and Actimel, being among of the most high-profile examples. 

Others include fortified confectionery drops, chews and gums, as well as supplement-type beverages, such as Joint Juice with glucosamine for joint health.

Initiatives in the dietary supplements sector have increasingly been targeting specific consumer groups with benefit-orientated solutions, Innova found. Aside from lines formulated for groups such as women or older people, this category also includes application areas such as weight management, primarily weight loss, with nearly 10% of supplement launches taking this kind of positioning in 2015. 

Sports supplements occupy another key growth area, and has seen rising levels of interest in line with sports nutrition as a whole. Usage is tending to spread away from professional sportsmen and athletes, and more into the mainstream for a whole range of active consumers looking to improve their general health and performance levels, according to Innova.

The high level of new product and promotional activity reflects the fact that the global supplements industry is increasingly competitive​,” said Williams. 

This is both internally between different manufacturers and brands and between different ingredients targeting the same health conditions, and also externally where supplements have to compete with healthy foods, functional foods, and even OTC pharmaceuticals to cater for increasingly demanding and savvy consumers​.

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