Heart health-growth defying regulation restrictions - analyst

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Heart health, Nutrition, European union

Demand for functional food and drinks has ensured that the European market for ingredients with proposed cardiovascular benefits is in rude health, despite restrictions on claims allowed on such products, says new research.

Amidst a growing media focus on the health impacts of obesity and cardiovascular disease (CVD), research and consultant group Frost & Sullivan says consumer interest in lower fat and so called ‘hearth-healthy foods’ has grown strongly.

As part of new research from the group, the analyst predicts that the heart health ingredient market in the bloc will rise to a value of $2bn by 2014, from $545m in 2008.

Prevention potential

S. Chandrasekhar, a research analyst for Frost & Sullivan, said that concerns over reducing the risks of CVD has led to a wealth of ingredients promising heart health improvements being used in a growing number of food and drink products.

"The preventive cost of CVD by virtue of these ingredients is much cheaper for the consumers than the cost of its treatment," ​stated the analyst.

Despite the potential for further growth signalled by the analyst in theEuropean Heart Health Ingredients Market​ report, a number of restrictions were also suggested to be holding back growth, according to frost.

Pointing to the EU directive on food labelling as well as recent amendments to health claim laws in 2006, the report suggests that limitations on potential nutritional benefits that a product can play up have set back some growth.

“In the United States, the health claim given to barley beta-glucans by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) helps it differentiate from other fibres in the competitive market scenario,”​ stated Frost & Sullivan. “A similar European regulation would benefit the European heart health market.”

The analyst said that the situation may change, with a growing number of European ingredient groups now providing more scientific and research-backed claims regarding heart health to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

Under new regulation adopted back in 2006, in order to obtain health claims for products sold in the bloc, approval is first required from EFSA’s Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA).

‘Competitive edge’

Through focusing on combining strong research, with product development and marketing strategies, the analyst claims that ingredient groups will be able to ensure a competitive edge in the market.

Chandrasekhar added that industry associations like the Global Organization for Eicosapentaenoic acid and Docosahexaenoic acid (GOED) were already lobbying European authorities over the right to use heart heath claims in some products.

"They are also involved in extensive branding and promotional activities to increase consumer awareness on CVD and the positive impact of the various ingredients, thereby enhancing the credibility of such awareness campaigns,"​ claimed the analyst.

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