Heart health concerns spur turn to prevention rather than treatment
10 Feb 2022 --- Consumer demographics and interests are evolving the heart health space, with stronger demand for natural options, sustainable approaches and different formats. NutritionInsight speaks to Gnosis by Lesaffre, Pharmactive, Sibelius and PharmaLinea on the innovation driving developments across industry.
One observation is that consumers can be divided into two groups: those that already have a heart condition or consumers that are just preventing heart problems and are looking for supplements to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, according to Eva Criado, communication manager at Pharmactive Biotech Products.
“Heart health is no longer viewed as a reactive category. Consumers recognize they must be proactive about protecting their health, instead of reaching their senior years, sadly discovering the impact age has had on their health and then left with no choice but to begin taking pharmaceuticals to address those issues,” says Xavier Berger, global market manager with Gnosis by Lesaffre.
Innovation in ingredients
Driven by demands to age healthily, consumers are “seeking out heart-healthy supplements, including vitamins and minerals, which give them the opportunity to avoid pharmaceuticals, recognizing that obtaining proper nutrition can make a significant difference,” adds Berger.
Criado adds that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the trend of consumers turning toward supplements in a bid to increase their health, including immunity, heart health and overall well-being.
Traditionally, the heart health market consists of commodity omegas, CoQ10 and arginine, according to Matevž Ambrožič, marketing and PR director, PharmaLinea. Nonetheless, the predominant trend in the space is the development of more complex extracts and advanced products, he says.
“The offer of branded, clinically substantiated extracts from tomato, olives, amla, grapes, etc., has improved dramatically, and it is translating into the finished product market. It seems that the prevalence really drove innovation in the ingredient arena.”
According to Criado, consumers are also looking for natural options, turning to nature for traditional plants and herbs with scientific evidence. “They are on a quest to preserve nature and the planet, and they are also looking for premium products to prevent adulteration. As a result, they are willing to pay more for better quality products.”
In 2021, heart health claims appeared in one in five supplement launches, a 50% rise from 2020, according to Innova Market Insights.
Evolving consumer demographics
Cardiovascular health is one of the top health concerns globally for both men and women, says Dr. Esra Isikgel, chief developer and formulator, Sibelius Limited APAC.
The target market was traditionally represented by the 40+ demographic, which have high-risk factors for developing heart-related diseases, she adds. This is now changing as the primary consumer is much younger.
“Over the past ten years, there has been a boom in advertising, the applications of nutraceuticals to help with the management of cardiovascular disease and general heart health. There is also a big uplift in awareness and positive buying trends among men. This is once again due to more awareness, social media and strong promotions by influencers.”
Berger observes that women are the top supplement purchasers for their families, but the heart health category no longer exclusively targets seniors.
“Consumers are becoming more attuned to the idea that if they put the proper habits into place when they are younger, they are better equipped for their senior years, and shoring up one’s cardiovascular health is a core concern,” he says.
“Much of that change in perception stems from the supplement industry widening its message to attract and speak to younger demographics, particularly those in their late 20s to late 30s who are thinking about starting families of their own.”
Criado sees that primary consumers for heart health products are mainly men over 45 years old. “Many female consumers are overweight with high cholesterol levels and are looking for natural alternatives to improve their health and prevent heart attacks or strokes.”
Nonetheless, she too notes the growing importance for a healthy lifestyle for consumers who seek to prevent heart problems or strokes. “Healthy hearts are associated with a healthy digestive system, healthy sleep patterns, and low-stress levels.”
Creative new formats
According to Isikgel, technology is making it easier to maximize new opportunities in novel delivery formats and formulation of new actives.
“With emerging technology in formulation, manufacturing, clinical trials and consumer focus feedback, we’re able to further understand our ingredients to successfully meet consumer demand.”
Criado notes many items are mainly sold in tablets and capsules, but there is a growing demand for gummies. “Some brands are also launching functional foods and beverages to improve heart health. Vegetal or vegan capsules are also very popular since the flexitarian, vegetarian and vegan lifestyles continue to gain track.”
A similar observation is made by Burger, who notes consumers want their supplements to fit into their lifestyles.
“While the traditional tablet and capsule delivery remain the most popular, many suffer from pill fatigue, so we will continue to see growth in gummies, drinkables, fortified foods and smaller pill sizes, which opens supplements up to wider audiences.”
Three in ten consumers globally say that functional F&B can support improving heart health, according to Innova Market Insights. Asia is the most active region for F&B launches tracked with heart health claims, tracking a 35% increase in share of the global total in July 2020 to June 2021. North America comes second with a 24% increase in share.
It’s all in the data
Advancements in technology have also allowed diagnostics to become more accessible, says Maja Orešnik, science and research director at PharmaLinea.
Consumers can have access to providers that enable quantification of one’s omega index, where they can send a sample via mail and receive the results digitally. Additionally, there are basic watches with pulse measurements and advanced smartwatches that deliver even more information.
Glucose monitor development has also become far more accessible, Orešnik adds, which is important for the heart due to the correlation between high sugar values and cardiovascular diseases.
“It seems that we will be seeing more and more of such solutions. All these insights into our physiological state give not only warning of states at risk of developing serious cardiovascular issues and therefore the incentive to consider supplements, but also real-time feedback on whether or not the supplementation is working,” she notes.
“A drawback is the possible disappointment after measuring results daily and not seeing effects instantly. After all, there is some time and consistency needed to achieve effects with supplements in this area.”
By Andria Kades
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