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Published: August 2011
While food has long been used to improve health, our knowledge of health is now being used to improve food. In recent years, scientific evidence has revealed that bioactive dietary components may benefit health in ways that extend beyond meeting basic nutritional needs, and food and nutrition science has moved from identifying and correcting nutritional deficiencies to designing foods that promote optimal health and reduce the risk of disease.
Some components, when consumed regularly and in sufficient quantities, may help reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes or obesity. Research is beginning to provide evidence of relationships between dietary components and health benefits, and consumers have enthusiastically embraced the evolving role of food in health. In addition, scientists are now equipped with new knowledge and technologies that allow them to better identify these functional dietary components, incorporate them into various foods and dietary supplements, and evaluate their potential health effects.
The following pie charts provide a comparison of the consumption of nutraceutical ingredients in the four major regions discussed in the report:
Consumption of Nutraceutical Ingredients—2010
Nutraceuticals are currently classified as foods and not drugs. Therefore any medical claim of prevention, treatment or cure of disease cannot be made for nutraceutical products. However, both functional foods and dietary supplements are permitted to make certain health claims. Functional foods are similar in appearance to a conventional food or beverage, are consumed as part of a normal diet, and have been demonstrated to have physiological benefits or to reduce the risk of chronic diseases beyond basic nutritional functions. Dietary supplements are foodstuffs whose purpose is to supplement the normal diet and that are concentrated sources of nutrients or other substances with a nutritional or physiological effect, alone or in combination, marketed in pharmaceutical dose form and administered orally.
The dietary supplements market is currently showing flattening demand and a slowdown in growth after highly impressive growth during the 1990s. While vitamin supplements are still one of the largest categories, they are projected to generate relatively slow growth in the Western world. This projection of slow growth is based on intense pricing competition from China, lack of proprietary compounds, mature product applications, and unfavorable or confusing media coverage for certain leading vitamins regarding their long-term benefits.
Nutraceutical ingredients are found as components of foods or in other ingestible forms that have been determined to be beneficial to the human body in preventing or treating one or more diseases or improving physiological performance. Nutraceutical ingredients are components of plants, animals, or microorganisms and also include synthetic variants of natural nutraceuticals sold in the form of pills, capsules or powders, or in other medicinal forms not usually associated with food. A nutraceutical ingredient is demonstrated to have a physiological benefit or to provide protection against chronic disease. Essential nutrients can be considered nutraceuticals if they provide benefit beyond their essential role in normal growth or maintenance of the human body. Examples are the antioxidant properties of vitamins C and E. On the other hand, the definition excludes complete extracts of herbs.
Most of the very large nutraceutical ingredient companies operate globally, such as BASF, ADM, Cargill, Lonza, Tate & Lyle, DSM, Danisco, Evonik, Ajinomoto, National Starch Food Innovation, Solae and Wyeth. The top five global suppliers among the bulk nutraceutical ingredient manufacturers have over 50% of the world market. Most of the remaining nutraceutical ingredient companies are small to medium-sized companies that pursue niches in one or two product categories. An unusual feature of the nutraceutical ingredient supply industry is that many of the important participants are giant agribusiness companies, such as ADM, Cargill, Corn Products, and ConAgra Grain Processing, that produce natural vitamins, tocotrienol, carotenoids, amino acids, proteins, bran, and fatty acids.
The nutraceutical market is becoming more competitive with the entry of pharmaceutical and major food companies into the nutraceutical arena. Many food companies have established their nutraceutical divisions with a view toward a diversified product line. Pharmaceutical companies have joined the race by acquiring dietary supplement producers. Recent years have marked the entry of major food and pharmaceutical companies into the nutraceutical marketplace, including Kellogg, Heinz, M&M, Quaker Oats, Nestlé, Unilever, Hormel, GlaxoSmithKline and Johnson & Johnson.
Nine major segments of nutraceutical ingredients are discussed in this report, including amino acids, peptides and proteins; carotenoids; minerals; polyphenols and flavonoids; probiotics; specialty carbohydrates and fibers; specialty fatty acids; sterols and stanols; and vitamins.