Holistic health: Nutraceutical companies combine science-backed ingredients to meet consumer scrutiny
20 Apr 2023 --- Consumers increasingly recognize that all aspects of health are interlinked, leading to a growing demand for products with multiple claims and benefits. Experts highlight that ensuring and communicating efficacy is vital, while technological innovations assure a suitable delivery format.
According to Innova Market Insights, nutraceutical product launches tripled in five years, from 2017 to 2021. Europe held the most nutraceutical launches at 42% of the market share in this period.
NutritionInsight discusses critical developments in the nutraceuticals market with experts from Lubrizol Life Science, Nexira, Lonza Capsules & Health Ingredients and Roquette.
“Wellness will become even more holistic and more integrated with science-backing, driving the demand for products that offer maximum efficacy and scientific evidence of the claims on the pack,” predicts Isabel Gómez, global marketing manager of Nutraceutical Ingredients at Lubrizol Life Science.
Julie Impérato, marketing and communication manager at Nexira, highlights that consumers seek products combining immune support with other benefits as “the awareness of the link between digestive health and immunity continues to grow.”
Immunity meets gut health
Immune health has gained importance and will stay relevant for the upcoming years, predicts Impérato, as “69% of consumers plan to improve immunity in the next twelve months.”
“Offering a product positioned on gut and immune health can help brands to differentiate in the competitive landscape,” she adds, for example, by linking ingredients like fiber or prebiotics that traditionally target digestion and regularity with general well-being, improved immunity, mental health and sleep.
“There is also an interesting synergy here between immunity and growing interest in traditional or alternative medicines from around the world,” adds Arnaud Verhaeghe, marketing director of Pharma Oral Dosage at Roquette.
“Ingredients like andrographis, ginseng and quercetin have been well-known to Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda practitioners for centuries for their immune-supporting benefits. Now they are making their way onto the western market in formats that are more familiar to US and European audiences – such as nutraceutical tablets or capsules.”
Supplement manufacturers can also turn “to pre-, pro- and postbiotics – otherwise known as symbiotics – a group of ingredients with a wealth of scientific data to suggest they may support a healthy immune system,” explains Verhaeghe.
However, as these are best known for improved gut health, Verhaeghe notes that positioning will be crucial to show they offer more benefits than digestive regularity.
Finding the “right delivery system”
As consumer demand for nutraceuticals with multiple health benefits grows, the right delivery system is essential to achieve this, stresses Emily Navarro, global marketing manager at Lonza Capsules & Health Ingredients.
“Lonza’s Capsugel Duocap capsule-in-capsule technology, for example, consists of a smaller, pre-filled capsule inside of a larger filled capsule, which opens up a range of formulation opportunities, enabling supplement brands to create innovative multi-benefit products.”
“We have also seen a resurgence in launch activity for supplements, mainly in the chew/gummy formats,” adds Lubrizol Life Science’s Gómez. “They offer consumers a convenient and sensory-appealing alternative, so we expect to see more of this in the future.”
To ensure health benefits, absorption, ease of digestion and minimal side effects, she suggests that brands use “cutting-edge microencapsulation technology in the ingredient development to ensure supplementation with optimum performance.”
Verhaeghe adds that product format – including packaging and storage – is crucial when working with “live” ingredients like symbiotics. “Their need for careful handling and refrigeration can be a blessing in disguise, however, as it makes these ingredients ideal for applications such as chilled beverages.”
Efficacy key to building consumer trust
Selecting science-backed ingredients is vital to delivering products that support consumer health areas and build trust, stresses Navarro. She explains that proprietary research by Lonza suggests 92% of consumers say scientific efficacy is necessary when purchasing a product.
“That’s why the joint health benefits of our UC-II undenatured type-II collagen are supported by a body of evidence that spans over two decades and 20 studies – including eleven human clinical studies.”
“Consumers are becoming more skeptical of the health and wellness industry,” adds Gómez. As a result, they demand products that offer maximum efficacy and scientific evidence of the claims on the pack. However, it can be challenging to communicate the science that backs up claims to consumers effectively.
“Providing the benefits in relatable terms that the end-consumer can understand and that the science is not seen as overbearing in the marketing messaging will become crucial for new product launches.”
Being aware of consumer skepticism of health benefits in digestion and the side effects of fiber intake, Impérato explains that Nexira demonstrated the tolerability of its Inavea pure acacia product range compared to Fructooligosaccharides.
The prebiotic effect of the product’s ingredients has been substantiated with scientific proof, “showing an increase in microbiota diversity, stimulation of healthy strains and increase in short chain fatty acid production.”
“A recent clinical trial has also shown an impact on transit modulation on people with irritable bowel syndrome that can be extended to occasional constipation of the general population.”
Opportunities through technology
Gómez, from Lubrizol Life Science, further notes that the encapsulation of nutraceutical ingredients protects the product, ensuring it remains stable through formulation and manufacturing and increasing absorption in the body. Moreover, the process “enables the formulation of more challenging applications such as gummies, orosoluble pack sticks and liquid formulations.”
“New delivery technologies are the cornerstone of innovation in the nutraceuticals market,” stresses Navarro. For example, Lonza’s Capsugel DRcaps designed release capsules offer acid protection properties to protect sensitive ingredients, like probiotics, as they pass through the acidic stomach to maximize efficacy.
“New flavor and aroma capsule coating technologies can create a distinct sensory experience for consumers, while vibrant food-colored capsules offer consumers that ‘Instagrammable’ moment,” she continues.
Verhaeghe, from Roquette, sees 3D printing’s emerging potential in the nutraceutical gummy space to unlock a new production method and greater personalization.
“The tandem rise of e-commerce and ‘at-home’ 3D printing has produced a cottage industry of brands that curate specific supplement blends for individual consumers, tailored to the results of an online quiz or survey,” he adds.
“Hyper-specific customization like this has been difficult for large manufacturers to replicate at scale, but technologies like 3D printing, AI-enabled production lines and continuous manufacturing could see personalization becoming not only viable but mainstream.”
Upcoming nutraceutical health areas
Consumers are looking to lose weight through a holistic approach by exercising and modifying their diet, explains Impérato from Nexira. They do not just focus on improving appearance but also want to “feel better and to reach a general well-being.”
“Body weight perception has changed throughout the pandemic,” she continues. “In 2019, 26% of global consumers thought themselves overweight, increasing to 31% post-pandemic. In 2022, the proportion of consumers who wanted to lose weight has grown by 7% since 2019, rising to 40%.”
Navarro adds that the esports nutrition market is emerging as a “highly promising off-shoot of the traditional nutraceuticals space – the industry is expected to encompass 577 million people globally by 2024.”
“Esports athletes work hard to reach peak physical and mental performance. A new, fast-growing group of consumers seeking nutraceutical support to reach their gaming goals and innovation in this space will certainly drive the industry forward in coming years,” she concludes.
By Jolanda van Hal
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