Revolving around an increased desire for health and wellness, consumers today are looking for not only healthier products, but also natural ones. However, as the term ‘natural’ has yet to be defined by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), food manufacturers are able to get away with claiming that their products are ‘natural’ as long as the product does not contain added colour, artificial flavours or synthetic substances.
To avoid such misleading claims, consumers instead are more likely to trust and increasingly look for the more natural ‘natural’ products, such as those with natural ingredients. These natural ingredients can be from animals—gelatin, plants—fruit or plant extracts, nuts—argan oil, or funghi.
The Natural Ingredients market worldwide has been growing than that for traditional supplements such as multivitamins, says Dr Chin. In particular, demand for plant-based ingredients like grape seed extract or some types of mushrooms like Ganoderma or cordyceps have been growing significantly of late.
On top of consumers desiring more natural products, driving the growth of this market in recent years is also the increasing popularity of complementary and alternative medicine gains, as well as new discoveries related to natural ingredient functions.
However, there are important points that manufacturers should take note of in the development of these products. For one, consistency and high quality is of paramount importance. As these ingredients come from nature, there could be subtle differences in quality which could result in differences in taste or ultimate benefit.
Also, food safety in terms of preparation and processing of the ingredients is important. Evidence-based research for product development would also aid and tie in with this to ensure the safety of the consumers.
As long as there is a consumer demand, manufacturers will continue meeting that demand, and the demand for functional foods and nutraceuticals will continue to rise, says Dr Chin.
Believing that natural ingredients can play a vital role in preventing disease and in assisting disease therapy, he foresees that natural ingredients will be the future of nutraceuticals.
Dr Chin Kun Wang will be sharing more about the future of functional food and beverages, dietary supplements and the nutraceutical industry in Asia Pacific at the coming Vitafoods Asia 2015 which will take place from 2-3 September at the AsiaWorld-Expo in Hong Kong.
For more information, click here.