Market analyst Euromonitor has produced a global weight management report that predicts an ongoing prevalence of reduced-calorie foods in the category but highlights conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) as a nutrient with a “key” role to play.
“Euromonitor International sees sweeteners, such as stevia, and satiety ingredients, such as conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), as key for the future of weight management, as they enable products to combine health and flavor,” the group surmised.
It put the global weight management market (or at least 32 countries surveyed) at $144bn in 2010 and predicted it would grow to $162bn by 2015, with 95% of that accounted for by reduced calorie foods and drinks, or as it calls it, the “passive approach” of taking ingredients like sugar and fat out of foods.
Euromonitor said the “active approach” of adding nutrients like CLA was worth $6.3bn in 2010, with reduced fat foods valued at about $80bn. Since the sharp peak and fall in popularity of the Atkins diet in the mid-2000s, low-carb foods had dwindled in value to $700m from $2bn five years ago.
But it noted, “a new diet – the Dukan diet – which is very popular in France and quickly spreading around the globe, is also based on low carbohydrate intake, which might result in sales of BFY reduced carb products picking up again.”
Of the ‘active approach’ Euromonitor observed: “Globally, the bulk of sales of active weight management food and beverages are made up of meal replacement products. The leading meal replacement brand is Herbalife, which in 2010 claimed 27% of global value sales, followed by Unilever‟s brand Slim Fast, with 9% of value.”
It said the Asia-Pacific and latin America had the highest sales of fortified weight management products, and highlighted the growing popularity of slimming teas in China.
“Functional ingredients have the strong point of acting directly on the body functions to improve weight loss, while they reduce to a minimum the need to resort to a strict diet, which is often extremely demanding and hard to follow,” it said.
“Two challenges functional ingredients will have to overcome in order to gain mainstream acceptance are proving their safety and recovering from the wild claims used for years by marketers promising miracle results. This second challenge may prove particularly difficult.”
Euromonitor singled out CLA as a promising ingredient but noted the rejection of CLA weight managem,ent and body toning health claims by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) were obstacles in the commercial development of the ingfterdienty.
“A blow, “to CLA is that, as of April 2011, EFSA’s scientific panel has released only negative opinions in regards to CLA and health claims, especially disapproving claims for ‘Contribution to the maintenance or achievement of a normal body weight’ and ‘Increase in lean body mass’.”
But it said while taste, odour and oxidation issues remained, along with a need for greater public understanding of the ingredients potential, the fact it was GRAS approved in the US and was on the verge of Novel Foods approval in the European Union were positives.