PharmaLinea 2024 trends: From natural pain management to AI-powered ingredient discovery

By Olivia Brown

- Last updated on GMT

Getty Images / Khanchit Khirisutchalual
Getty Images / Khanchit Khirisutchalual

Related tags Trends 2024 trendspotting

There is a clear white space for pain management supplements in the market and significant opportunity to harness AI for innovation and discovery.

These were the key takeaways from a webinar on 2024 nutraceutical market trends hosted by supplement manufacturer PharmaLinea and consumer healthcare company IQVIA earlier this week.

Shifting consumer trends

Amit Shukla, global VP of consulting services and thought leadership at IQVIA, explained that Covid shifted consumers to seek holistic solutions that prioritise self-care and wellbeing.

He said other prevalent trends include anti-ageing, joint and bone health, women’s health support, microbiome care and on-demand hyper-personalised solutions for health and wellbeing. He noted sustainable nutrition as an overarching mega trend for the industry, highlighting the need for innovation to drive the production of sustainable products.

"We’re also seeing innovation in retail, as we’re starting to see a combination of distributors, wholesalers, as well as e-pharmacies, to create what we call OMO—offline merging with online," he explained. "This is a phenomenon which is impacting all of consumer health, but also supplements and nutraceuticals."

He noted the growth of the digital health market, which is projected to be worth $275 billion by 2028 and has showed a stronger growth than offline channels in most of the European markets. He said this has resulted from a surge in demand for remote health consultations and digital fitness and wellbeing options offering enhanced convenience and accessibility.

"If you are a traditional manufacturer of food supplement products, you have to be in both offline and online channels," he added.

Trends and opportunities

According to a recent Euromonitor report​, the largest and fastest-growing dietary supplement categories over the past five years included immunity, beauty and heart health. The smaller, more niche categories displaying high growth include memory, sleep and stress, and eye health.

However, Matevz Ambrozic, marketing director at PharmaLinea, argued key white space opportunities include pain management, women’s health, cellular ageing and hydration. 

"For me, pain supplements have been the most exciting trend we have been following all year," he said. "We feel that pain is one of the largest white spaces with the most potential for growth for nutraceuticals.

"The pharma industry is well developed in this segment, whilst supplements haven’t yet provided in terms of natural alternatives. In addition to the opioid crisis in the U.S., there are existing consumer concerns around the frequent use of these drugs in terms of side effects."

He noted the prevalence of consumers suffering from occasional and chronic pain and the opportunity for industry to develop solutions with fewer side effects.

Pharmaceutical brands have already attempted to meet this demand, further blurring the lines between pharma and nutraceutical industries.

The UK-based consumer health company Haleon recently expanded its range to address the full cycle of pain support through preventative drug-free dietary supplements. Head Care was released by its brand Excedrin for prevention and recovery from migraines, as well as Pana Natra pain management options by Panadril in Australia, and proactive joint comfort options by Voltaren containing boswella and turmeric.

Ambrozic emphasised the endogenous fatty acid palmitoylethanolamide (PEA) as an ingredient with significant opportunities due to its anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties.

He said that companies had to be careful in their wording around pain management, with some claiming "dietary management of conditions that cause pain" and others "nutritional support of pain management".

In addition, he noted significant opportunities for support with inflammation and menstrual symptoms, with trials highlighting turmeric as an effective solution; an ingredient that Holland & Barrett noted as a best-seller in 2023​.

AI and ChatGPT

Ambrozic also highlighted the potential for the implementation of AI in nutritional research to identify of new formulation opportunities.

"Nuritas is an example of a company developing ingredients using machine learning platforms," he pointed out. "They have said they have a success rate of 80% in clinical trials, and a typical time to market of 24 months, which is astonishing."

"It doesn’t stop at ingredients," he added. "GPTs will dramatically change the way we look for and analyse relevant scientific data, and the way we formulate."

Google's recent launch of the AI platform Gemini has enabled rapid analysis of numerous studies and data in multiple formats for a specific health area. Ambrozic explained this makes it possible to complete a meta-analysis study in a matter of minutes.

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