Uncertainty marks new year weight control development

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nutrition

While weight control may be on many consumer’s minds following the customary indulgences of the holiday period, the concern appears less pressing amongst supplement manufacturers, suggests recent findings.

Since December 2006, the number of vitamin and dietary supplements launched by manufacturers the first and last months of each year claiming to benefit weight control during have failed to exceed single figures, claims market analyst Mintel.

Referring to the group’s Global New Product Database (GNPD), Mintel said that as of yet, only two supplement products marketed as aiding weight management had been launched between this month and December 2008.

The products include a caffeine and green tea containing supplement, which is claimed can burn increased levels of fat, and fibre-enriched gummy tablets that target creating feelings of satiety. They were launched in December in France and Germany respectively, stated the research.

The number of weight control launches currently remains someway behind the activity that occurred in the segment last year though. During the two-months ending January 2008, nine similar brands were launched across Europe, with a single product released over the same period between 2006 and 2007, the analyst stated, pointing to its findings.

Launch decline

However, over the last two years, the overall number of supplements marketed as dietary products appears to have fallen drastically.

Mintel said that in 2008 the number of new supplement products claiming to have some impact on weight control fell by 50 per cent to 56 new products.

Uncertainty remains though over whether the number of companies looking to enter the sector will continue to decline in 2009, with weight management being highlighted as a major trend for the year by some analysts.

Just last month, Julian Mellentin, consultant and editor of monthly trade journal New Nutrition Business, identified weight control as a major development area for the supplement and functional food market.

‘Globesity’

Despite greater awareness of dietary pitfalls, endless government ‘improve your lifestyle’ campaigns, and a general shift from the mainstream food industry to healthier foods, ‘globesity’ remains a major problem in many countries, suggested the journal. Ingredients and foods that can offer assistance in this area were therefore identified as having an instant appeal.

There is also a large market for the non-obese who seek to control their weight or even their body shape.

Most large ingredients companies have an offering or a whole suite of offerings in the area ranging from plant extracts, to protein forms to salt, fat and sugar replacers and all offering either calorie burning, fat burning or satiety benefits.

Plant-based blow

Plant-based solutions took a blow in 2008 when Unilever pulled the pin on its hoodia ambitions, but with obesity rates surging in the developing world – especially in China, India and many other parts of Asia – it’s an area that will consume the attention of many in this business in the year ahead.

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