Editor's Spotlight

Big opportunities in 2023 and beyond: The rise of phages and fermentates

By Nikki Hancocks

- Last updated on GMT

Getty | Galeanu Mihai
Getty | Galeanu Mihai

Related tags phages microbiome Trends Brain health prediabetes fermentates

The big opportunities within supplements in 2023 and beyond will be within prediabetes, brain health, fermentates, and bacterial phages, according to predictions from white label supplements firm PharmaLinea.

Matevž Ambrožič, marketing and PR Director at PharmaLinea, hosted a webinar in partnership with NutraIngredients​ last week (December 1) providing a detailed rundown of the supplements category today and the growth areas to watch in the coming years.

The webinar revealed the European supplement market is nearly one sixth of the global market, with $30bn of the $173bn market, and it is growing at 10%.

Deep diving into the market trends, Ambrožič revealed data from Euromonitor (November 2022) suggests the niche and growing are within sleep/stress, women’s health, children's health, cognition, and eye health.

Niche trends

According to the data, stress and sleep has been the fastest growing supplement category globally for the second year in a row.

“Some of us thought it might just be a fleeting trend, due to Covid, but it turned out not to be," ​says Ambrožič, "it grew by 14.5% in 2021 and 14.9% predicted growth in 2022 and that’s because it is driven by a growing actual consumer concern.”

STADA’s own health report found that 15% of consumers in Europe said they had trouble sleeping in 2021, compared to 35% of consumers in 2022. What’s more 27% of consumers said their stress levels got worse during the pandemic in 2021, and this number rose to 37% in 2022.

However, the data also reveals that consumers seem to be quite dissatisfied with the solutions in the market and around 50% were looking for new treatment solutions to sleep problems in 2021 (Euromonitor International, 2020 and 2021).

Ambrožič noted that many industry leaders have responded to this need with 'added value' product launches – meaning products based on clinically studied ingredients or using an advanced delivery form.

“The top three rated mental health supplements brands on Amazon US base their products on branded and clinically studied ingredients,” ​he added.

Women’s health is rated the second fastest growing category globally over the past decade.

“Women have moved into the focus as they are responsible for 70-80% of purchasing decisions,” ​Ambrožič said, adding that they decide what kind of food and healthcare products will be acquired for the household.

He added that Irina Barbalova, global lead for health and beauty at Euromonitor International, has said: “Activity from the large consumer good corporates has been patchy in women’s health. There is significant market potential and innovation to be explored.”

Children’s supplements are also predicted to grow much faster than the overall global dietary supplement market, with a predicted CAGR of 9.5% over the next five years, compared to 5.3% for the total market (Euromonitor, Nov 2022).

Future outlook

Using knowledge of the current market to predict trends in the coming years, Ambrožič pointed out that prediabetes is present in 10.6-16.8% of adults worldwide (IDF Diabetes Atlas 2021) yet supplements treatments are quite few.

“We feel this is because of an absence of enough incentive for consumers to seek out solutions,"​ he explained.

"More often than not, consumers only know there is a problem when they are in the diabetes stage already and are being administered with medication.

“Eventually glucose monitoring systems will evolve from being invasive… Apple, for example is developing a glucose monitoring system within the Apple smartwatch so there won’t be the need for additional purchases and everyone with access to these devices will know if they are in a prediabetes state. And when this does happen, the industry should be ready with solutions to address this state.”

The market expert added that brain health is an important goal for multiple stakeholders and the ingredient of adaptogenic mushrooms have made their journey from ancient wisdom in Asia, to use in premium products in the Western markets.

He noted that Cordyceps, Lion’s Mane, Shitake and others can address a range of cognitive issues such as memory, stress, sleep and more.

Fermentates are another big opportunity area, according to Ambrožič.

"These ingredients take powerful superfoods and create higher levels of bioactive constituents.

“This is a category where we have evidence of commercial success of products in Europe. In Italy is the number one immune stimulate supplement which contains fermented papaya extract. This was the number one immunostimulant supplement in Italy in 2020.”

And finally, PharmaLinea predicts there will be huge growth from supplements using bacterial phages.

“These are technically viruses that target specific strains of bacteria and eliminate them," ​Ambrožič explained.

"In a breakthrough study in ‘Cell’, in 2022, they found phages survive oral administration, avoid antibiotic resistance, are able to eliminate a certain strain of unwanted bacteria without disrupting the rest of the microbiome.

“This is quite revolutionary and this research was funded and supported by many pharmaceutical names.”

He added that it remains to be seen how these will be treated from a regulatory perspective, especially in the ‘more demanding’ regulatory landscape or Europe.

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