Products targeting sleep disorders and anxiety were examples of offerings gaining increasing traction, Canadean said, noting scientific backing was also rising.
“10% of the European population suffers from GAD – generalised anxiety disorder – which inflicts a cost of € 11.6 billion on the economies in Europe,” said Karin Nielsen, director of the Ingredients Division.
“The cost of supplying the global population with antidepressants and psychotherapy drugs now exceeds $70 billion (€56bn), revealing how urgent this search for preventative brain bioactive nutrients has become.”
She added: “Some properties of fruits, plants or roots such as ginseng, blueberries and chamomile have a positive impact on cognitive health.”
“For example, properties from Panax Ginseng, a root naturally occurring in Asia, appear to fight idiopathic chronic fatigue. Blueberries are said to be antioxidants with anti-inflammatory effects, while also reducing depressive symptoms. Scientists also found that the polyphenol and apigenin naturally found in chamomile, the passionflower and to some extend in the sin citrus fruits can have a positive effect on people suffering from depression and anxiety.”
Nielsen said bioavailability however remained an issue product developers had to grapple with.
“Our blood stream is the transport way for all nutrients and signal molecules, but there is a gate keeping track of what molecules are allowed to enter the brain space and impact the grey cells. This is a challenge for the food industry, as nutrients are modified during digestion, making it difficult to breach the blood-brain barrier.”
While the market was promising she noted its relative infancy with a global market value of about €160m compared to €32bn for energy drinks.