Consumers in the UK are increasingly concerned about eye health, and are turning to dietary supplements to help fight the problem, claims a new study commissioned by Kemin Foods.
The omnibus survey, which was carried out on a representative sample of the UK general public, was commissioned by Kemin to establish the attitudes and awareness levels of UK consumers on the subject of ocular health, and the role of nutrition in maintaining eye health.
The survey showed that 35.6 per cent of consumers were interested in learning more about dietary supplements for eye health - positive news for manufacturers of eye health supplements - and also revealed that 56 per cent were specifically interested in learning more about lutein and its role in the prevention of Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD).
Lutein is a carotenoid found naturally in the eye's macular pigment and has been found to be effective in the prevention of AMD and other age-related diseases of the eye such as cataracts. The eye cannot manufacture lutein on its own, making dietary intake of this naturally occurring antioxidant a key factor in maintaining optical health.
Kemin Foods launched its FloraGLO brand of Lutein into the UK market in 2001 and the company has continued to invest heavily in the European dietary supplement market via education programmes and public awareness campaigns, as well as investing in product research and development and clinical trials.
The results of the UK survey clearly indicate the market potential for lutein supplements and eye supplements in general, with 82 per cent of those questioned believing that nutrition and diet played a key role in maintaining and improving eye health. This figure was even higher among the 45-54 age group, who are at higher risk of developing eye diseases such as AMD and cataracts.
The survey also highlighted a lack of awareness among consumers as to the role of more traditional supplements considered beneficial to eye health, such as vitamin E and beta carotene. While this indicates a need for consumer education, Kemin's marketing manager Pedro Vieira said it also presented an opportunity for a dominant leader to emerge and take ownership of the eye health category - a leader such as FloraGLO.
"The results of this survey are encouraging," Vieira said. "Not only do they show us that our efforts and investment in education are being rewarded with increased awareness of lutein and AMD, but also that consumers are accepting of the role that nutrition and supplementation can play in preventing eye disease - something I am sure is of interest to manufacturers.
"We launched FloraGLO lutein in the US in 1995 with a similar support and marketing campaign to the one we are currently running in the UK. Looking at the current awareness levels of lutein in the UK, which are already an encouraging 14 per cent as revealed by this survey, I can see parallels to the way in which the US market has developed.
"When we first began measuring awareness levels in the US in 1999 they were almost non-existent, but now, after six years of continued investment, this figure is 44 per cent and the market has developed beyond supplements to functional foods, such as fortified cereal bars, and fruit juices. It is my hope that our work in the UK and Europe will open similar opportunities."