With obesity rates still high – not only in developed countries but also, increasingly, in newly wealthy emerging markets, there is considerable attention to ways to trim down waistlines. Measures commonly vaunted include upping education of children and their parents, promoting physical activity, and encouraging the reformulation of foods that are high in fat, salt and sugar.
However from the consumer perspective, foods that actually add a health ingredient, rather than taking away unhelpful nutrients, are intriguing and attractive.
Euromonitor’s new report, entitled Weight management ingredients in food and beverages, gives three categories for ingredients intended to help trim waist lines: those that suppress the appetite or induce satiety; those that boost metabolism or fat-burning; and those that inhibit digestion or fats or carbohydrates.
But while these categories have emerged as powerful drivers behind the market, Euromonitor’s John Madden believes there is still up-tapped potential. For instance, omega-3 fatty acids, chromium, and the African cactus Hoodia gordonii are all listed as ingredients that could be exploited more.
However the current legislative landscape for foods that purport to bring additional benefits, with the implementation of the new European health claims regulation, for example, means manufacturers and the ingredients firms that serve them need to have strong scientific basis.
“As global obesity creates a tougher regulatory environment, it will be important for manufacturers seeking long-term advantages to assure their ingredients are accepted by the proper legislative bodies and that consumers are educated on the health gains of these added ingredients,” Madden said.
In the United States, GlaxoSmithKline has petitioned the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ban dietary supplements from making weight loss claims.
Hunger for satiety
In spite of the marketing challenges, Euromonitor has observed manufacturer interest in weight management-related ingredients.
Indeed, Kemin has just announced that it received an award at Ingredientes Adelgazantes España 2008 in Spain for its Slendesta ingredient, which is derived from white potato and geared towards boosting satiety.
Euromonitor says that foods with fortified and functional properties – a category under which weight management goods fall – have seen global market growth of 10 per cent in 2007. Emerging markets are said to be particularly keen on ‘positive nutrition’ – that is, foods with added ingredients, rather than foods with lower levels of fat, sugar and sodium.