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Health Wellness and Weight Management TrendsHealth Wellness and Weight Management Trends

November 13, 2009

4 Min Read
Health Wellness and Weight Management Trends

LAS VEGASThe final day of SupplySide West 2009 education program showed no signs of slowing from its hot start. A pair of market research seminars drew an audience eager to learn about the latest trends and opportunities in the nutrition market. HealthFocus Internationals Steve Walton provided an overall look at global trends in health and wellness, while Frost & Sullivans Christopher Shanahan honed in on the weight management ingredients market.

Walton talked about the fear culture driving consumers to pay more attention to various aspects of their health, whether such issues are likely immediate or future concerns. Among the food concerns were salmonella and pesticides, and health concerns included toxins, arthritis and Alzheimers. In discussing on the new connected community, Walton noted consumers now report getting more health information from their doctors, family and the internet, turning less often to TV/radio and traditional advertising. This sense of taking control of ones own health carries over into environmental trends, where 80-percent of consumers feel there are things they can do to help preserve the planet and its resources.

The paradigm shifts now evident in the marketplace include the addition of reasons to reject productsGMOs, preservatives, trans fats, etc. as well as the overlapping of product types (medicine, supplements, food, OTC, etc.) used to manage health. However, despite all this control, when it comes to self-assessment of health consumers are largely in denial, according to Walton, who reported most people say they are in good health, but many of these same respondents report having chronic health problems. In fact, Walton presented stats showing people did not report having poor health until they had 15 or more health afflictions. However, there is no denial when it comes to the potential problems associated with aging, as Walton pointed out consumers want to maintain their favorite lifestyles as long as possible. This also means many consumers are starting to take preventive measures at earlier ages; so companies may need to consider younger age groups when marketing to health concerns traditionally targeted to older groups.

It appears using food for self care is a trend with staying power, as Walton noted taste is no longer enough to win over consumers, who also want to get benefits out of every food they eat. He said the new mantra is taking health to the consumer instead of asking them to go to it (or come to you and your healthy products/ingredients).

One of the biggest self-care programs is weight management, which Shanahan tied to growing rates of obesity in low- and mid-income demographics and the associated chronic health problems, such as cardiovascular disease. He broke down the weight category into six segments: satiety and appetite control; fat burners; fat blockers and substitutes; carb blockers and substitutes; metabolism regulators; and mood regulators. As far as ingredients, he said proteins, fats, fiber, plant materials and specialty compounds (probiotics etc.) are the main subcategories.

Sizing up the weight management market, Shanahan placed current or recent total revenues at $7.5 billion, with an annual growth rate (AGR) of about 6.8 percent. This growth is expected to increase to more than 12 percent AGR and $14 billion by 2015.  Comparing global segments, Europe is the largest market for satiety ingredients and the most innovative, but the regulatory process for market approval is the longest. North America is an established market with a few dominant ingredients, such as hoodia, but it also features an easier market entry than Europe and is challenged by declining consumer confidence in supplements following several safety-related issues in recent years (ephedra, hydroxycut, etc.). Asia is a young market with fragmented regulatory development in weight supplement areas, but it features an importance placed on appearance relative to obesity.

Shanahan looked at the effects of the economic downturn and recent slight recovery, noting the outlook in this category includes a preference for functional foods and scientifically supported ingredients. While the food segment is more resilient than others, scrutinized spending limits both consumers and companies (R&D). Other challenges include food safety concerns, a growing mistrust of weight product ads/claims, and funding issues for small manufacturers.

Among hot topics and trends are: new ingredients categories (competition from pharma companies); food texture and flavor development; popularity of fibers and protein for satiety; anti-obesity regs including increased tax on sodas; innovative delivery (baked goods, waters, etc.); and co-branding opportunities. Going forward, Shanahan said increased science to combat credibility concerns, rapid development of satiety products, and moving away form the mmagic bullet approach are all keys to success.

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