Leatherhead Food Research, in its newly published report, The Market for Anti-Ageing Foods, said that interest and activity in anti-ageing foods and drinks has started to rise, although it is still highly fragmented and mainly confined to products fortified with antioxidant vitamins and nutrients.
“In view of the ageing structure of the population and the predicted increase in age-related disorders, there is significant scope for the further development of food and drinks products containing selected anti-ageing ingredients,” claim the researchers.
They report though that most anti-ageing food products still tend to be given a very general health positioning, relying largely on growing consumer awareness of the role of antioxidants in the diet and the types of foods that contain higher levels of these.
The analysts put the current value of the market for food targeted at age-related health effects including declining cognitive function, eyesight deterioration, joint health and skin condition at $2bn (€1.34bn) annually, not including the market for products promoted on a more general high-antioxidant/anti-ageing platform.
According to the report, while product activity in relation to these specific conditions has traditionally been very limited outside Japan, with consumers interested in these areas still tending to rely on dietary supplements, an upward level of growth can be seen in the past five years.
The researchers attribute this growth to factors such as a general rise in positive eating, demand from an ageing population to extend their active lifestyles as long as possible, awareness raising resulting from the major multinational companies involvement into the sector and a growing body of scientific evidence about the efficacy of some ingredients.
The report highlights that joint health and eye health are likely to see the most activity in terms of product development and consumer acceptance as they are clearly understood conditions.
“Recent studies suggest strong evidence in the use of omega-3 fatty acids and glucosamine sulfate in the improvement of joint health, and the use of lutein and zeaxanthin in eye related disorders such as AMD,” states the researchers.
According to the report, the anti-ageing market is still too small to quantify in most countries, but Japan has continued to dominate the market, reflecting the more developed nature of its functional foods market as a whole.
While in the US, the market is particularly focused on soft drinks, including functional ranges with different lines offering or implying specific benefits, states the publication.
The analysts maintain that although the market in Europe remains highly fragmented, there have been considerable advances over the past five years or so, with the some anti-ageing products moving out of the specialist dietetic sector and more into the mainstream in some instances:
“The launch of one of the first skin care beauty drinks in the mainstream dairy market was also very high profile and, although ultimately unsuccessful, has raised awareness of the potential in this kind of product,” state the researchers.
The report finds that market development of anti-ageing foods has been inhibited in some instances by legislation restricting fortification of foods and drinks or limiting health claims, and as such has been relying more on a general health positioning in many instances, while also raising general consumer awareness of the benefits of ingredients used.
Adapting to new legislation changes will be vital for companies wishing to launch products in the anti-ageing sector, the researchers argue.
“Food and drinks companies need to ensure they are in a position to update their marketing messages to account for the additional science required to pass regulatory requirements, and also to start to re-engage consumers whose trust in these products is low,” they said.
Part 2 of the NutraIngredients.com focus on the anti-ageing market continues tomorrow with a look at the market developments within each health condition sector.