The dietary supplement market has been growing consistently in APAC and globally. In Australia, the complementary medicine industry exceeded AUD$5bn last year, elsewhere in China, the figure is estimated to be RMB$700bn.
The booming prospects of the dietary supplements and health foods markets have long attracted interest of pharma firms.
An example is pharma firm Sanofi, which launched its own vitamins, minerals, and supplements such as Nature’s Own and Cenovis in Australia.
In response to queries from NutraIngredients-Asia, senior food science and nutrition analyst at Mintel Food and Drink, Michelle Teodoro, talked about three product trends that both pharma and dietary supplement firms have been paying attention to.
1) Foods for Special Medical Purposes
Teodoro pointed out that Foods for Special Medical Purposes (FSMP) have been gaining attention from firms.
An example is AbbVie Pharmaceuticals, which has a number of FSMP brands such as Ensure, Pediasure, and Similac under its belt.
In the case of China, the FSMP industry is mostly dominated by pharma firms.
The products mostly revolved the needs of premature and low birth weight infants, and a regulatory firm have pointed out that there was a lack of such products for the elderly.
Teodoro pointed out that even pharma firms would need to “find themselves out of their comfort zones” when making FSMPs products.
“Both pharmaceutical and food and drink companies can find themselves out of their comfort zones when it comes to pharma foods, with different barriers to entry.
“Food and drink companies will need to expand their R&D capabilities to enhance their scientific creditability while developing relationships with new types of partners including drug stores and health practitioners.
“Pharma companies, on the other hand, come with scientific credibility and established relationships with drug stores and health practitioners. However, they will have to learn to strive on taste and improve relationships with supermarket retailers,” Teodoro said.
2) Functional foods
Functional foods, due to its non-medicinal image, is also a booming category and is especially appealing in the children’s market.
An example is Indian pharma firm Cipla’s range of children’s supplements, in which its ActivKids’ Brain Boosters products were presented in the form of choco bites.
“This product also aligns with the natural trend as it is formulated with food-based ingredients such as almonds – which is a brain food known to strengthen cognitive ability - and the Ayurvedic herb brahimi – which boosts learning and concentration,” Teodoro said.
Other similar examples include Nature’s Way’s probiotic choc balls and Natures Plus’ children’s chewable calcium supplement.
3) Foods for convenience
Speedy effect claims are the fastest growing claims in APAC, according to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD).
“Dietary supplements brands can also explore convenient-related claims, such as portability and ease-of-use, especially as consumers are increasingly time-pressed and on-the-go,” Teodoro pointed out.
She gave the example of Biotik’s probiotic microshot which comes in a 10ml single-serve bottle.
The brand has also introduced a strawberry-flavoured version targeted at children between the ages of 3-12 years old, with each microshot containing one billion live and stable cultures and the Lactobacillus paracasei LP-DG strain.