November 5, 2020    4 min read

Personal health has been front of mind for the general public as the Covid-19 pandemic has raged, positioning the nutraceuticals industry for further expansion and success in 2021.

Here we overview the nutraceuticals industry in general, and look at what the future holds for nutraceuticals manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors in 2021 and beyond.

We will explore:

  • Types of nutraceuticals
  • What is the difference between functional foods and nutraceuticals
  • The state of the nutraceutical industry
  • What is driving growth in the nutraceutical industry

What are nutraceuticals?

The term nutraceutical describes products made from natural sources that have health benefits beyond the basic nutritional value found in food. Nutraceuticals are used to promote general well-being and prevent illnesses.

There is no globally-accepted definition for what a nutraceutical is, so definitions, attitudes and legislation around nutraceuticals tend to vary from country to country.

Types of nutraceuticals

Nutraceuticals fall into two general categories, namely dietary supplements and functional food:

  • Dietary supplements. In addition to vitamins, dietary supplements can contain minerals, herbs, amino acids, enzymes and many other ingredients. They come in a variety of forms, including gummies, drinks, energy bars, powder or pill form. Examples include magnesium pills, multivitamin gummies, and protein powder
  • Functional food. This includes whole foods and fortified, enriched or enhanced dietary components. Conventional functional foods are nutrient-rich foods and include legumes and whole grains. Modified functional foods include juice with added calcium, cereal with added iron, or milk with added zinc and folic acid

nutraceutical example matchaSuperfoods like matcha are an example of a nutraceutical

Pharmaceutical or nutraceutical: what’s the difference?

Nutraceuticals are generally made from the plants and animals we already consume for food, whereas pharmaceuticals are synthesized to prevent or treat a specific illness.

Both have their place in our health. Pharmaceuticals are the result of clinical trials aimed at treating diseases. They are also regulated by the country’s local governing body. Nutraceuticals are food-based substances used for the prevention and treatment of diseases. Nutraceuticals are typically classified as a subcategory of food and therefore aren’t as strictly regulated as pharmaceuticals are.

Poor nutrition is a major risk factor for chronic diseases so many consumers want to take an active role in preventing illnesses. This is where nutraceuticals come into play — midway between the supermarkets and the scientific world of pharmaceutical firms.

The state of the nutraceutical industry

Globally, nutraceuticals are becoming more important as they become part of consumers’ daily diet.

In 2020, the global market for nutraceuticals is worth about US$233.9 billion and is projected to reach US$358.5 billion by 2027. After North America, Japan and China are the next largest nutraceuticals consumers. Together, they make up about 78% of the total market in the Asia Pacific region.

Big players in this industry include companies such as Suntory, Nestle, PepsiCo, Kellogg’s and Amway.

5 trends that will drive the nutraceutical industry in 2021

1. Rise in chronic and non-communicable diseases

Obesity is now a bigger problem than hunger, according to Tim Lobstein, policy director at the World Obesity Federation.

Globalisation and urbanisation in developing countries have increased, resulting in more cases of non-communicable diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart ailments and lung disorders. Chronic conditions such as obesity, allergies and Alzheimers are more prevalent too.

Poor nutrition, a major risk factor for chronic conditions and non-communicable diseases, is driving demand for nutraceuticals across the globe.

2. Rising healthcare costs

Across the world spending on health is growing faster than the rest of the global economy, accounting for 10% of global GDP, reveals a 2019 World Health Organisation (WHO) report.

Consumers who want to improve their own health without paying for medical treatments are turning to the nutraceutical industry to help them. Health-conscious consumers who are looking for alternatives to over-the-counter medications and prescription drugs turn to alternatives such as fortified food and beverages.

3. Baby Boomers want to enjoy retirement

A majority of nutraceutical consumers are Baby Boomers. This demographic group has disposable income to afford nutraceuticals and are driven to maintain a healthy lifestyle throughout retirement. These two factors contribute to the rise in demand for nutraceuticals.

As Millennials are moving further along their career, they’re increasingly able to spend money on creating a healthy lifestyle and making more sustainable choices.

4. Mistrust in conventional medicine

Concern over pharmaceutical drugs and their side effects are rising. With nutraceuticals thought of as a more natural alternative, this is expected to promote the consumption of nutraceuticals over the next few years.

5. Growing demand for convenience

Consumers crave convenience. Baby Boomers don’t want to keep popping pills, and Millennials demand on-the-go products. For the pill-adverse, nutraceuticals can also take the form of gummies and effervescent tablets. Nutraceutical snacks include protein bars, dry nuts, grains and bars — perfect for snacking on the run.

Nutraceuticals in a nutshell

The nutraceutical industry has proven to have room for growth, especially as we face an ageing population and rising healthcare costs. Manufacturers, distributors and wholesalers in the nutraceutical industry should understand the drivers of nutraceutical industry growth if they want to continue to thrive.