Global industry has undergone significant changes in both 2020 and 2021 and nutraceuticals is of course no exception. In fact, demand has continued to increase throughout this period and many of the underlying trends behind this have been accelerated by the short-term challenges of the pandemic – significantly, these trends are also now translating into longer-term behavioral changes. For example, over the preceding years we have seen a gradual move towards nutraceuticals that use plant-based ingredients and probiotics. All have increased in popularity as consumers have sought natural ways to boost health and wellbeing.
How does the nutraceutical market evolve?
Before we dive deeper into future trends, we should first look at the current data and the overall market – which is anticipated to grow at CAGR of over 8.5% until 2025 according to new research from Technavio[i]. Emphasizing the shifting perspectives of global consumers, research from a 2021 McKinsey report[ii] shows that ‘in every market researched there was a substantial increase in the prioritization of wellness over the past two to three years. Furthermore, the consumer perception of what being ‘healthy’ entails is also evolving. Most consumers now associate this not just with physical health, but also mental and even social aspects that contribute to their overall wellness. There is an increasing consumer perspective that to stay ‘healthy’ and ‘well’ means taking a more holistic approach to lifestyle, nutrition and supplement choices. McKinsey report broke this down into 6 segments: health, fitness, nutrition, appearance, sleep and mindfulness.
Running in parallel to this, there has been well-documented trends towards plant-based diets alongside sustainable food supplies and organic certification. What is interesting is that as these trends have significant crossover themes and are now converging around the idea of ‘proactive living’ and using natural ways to boost wellness and health.
For nutraceutical brands this means that we are seeing shifts in both the way products are marketed, but also the ingredients they contain. If brands can combine natural ingredients with proven benefits and enjoyable dosage forms, they are likely to have a winning product, which is why in particular we continue to anticipate an accelerated rise of nutraceutical gummies as they are able to perfectly intersect these three factors together.
[i] Technavio – Nutraceuticals Market by Product and Geography – Forecast and Analysis 2021-2025; Sep. 2021
[ii] McKinsey – Feeling good: The future of the $1.5 trillion wellness market, April 2021
The convergence of big pharma and nutraceuticals
The growth in preventative medicine and health as a consumer trend has not gone unnoticed by pharma companies, which are looking to use their often highly trusted and valuable brands to open-up new potential parallel markets. This means looking at non pharmaceutical methods that can be sold as part of the overall package to improve health.
In terms of the contract partners pharma companies work with, they are clearly going to favor those CDMOs that operate higher GMP standards and are certified to manufacture pharmaceuticals as well as nutraceuticals, like SIRIO in Europe.
‘Dual health’ benefits rise in popularity
Increasingly we are seeing clients looking for entirely new combinations, and there remains a strong desire to be first to market with products that can potentially appeal across several converging segments. For example, we see ingredient combinations that have ‘dual health’ benefits rise in popularity, particularly those than can transcend both body and mind.
These “body and mind” formulations are ones that combine a number of potential benefits together like mood enhancement, focus and/or sleep, but also additional “mind” benefits such as enhanced immunity, heart function or metabolism. This, we believe, will be a long-term trend for consumers over the next five years.
For example, probiotic formulations, which help stabilize the microbiome – an essential regulator of equilibrium in immunity, diet, and more recently research continues to emerge on its vital role in the nervous system – are potentially another big trend and products with multi supportable health claims are likely to see strong growth.
At SIRIO, we have seen this first-hand in the last year, with the continued demand for our patented probiotic/omega 3 softgels.
Another ‘trendy’ ingredients class we have seen substantial increase in popularity is adaptogens – with ingredients like ginseng, saffron or ashwagandha. These ingredients are increasingly in demand in response to increased incidence of stress and sleeping problems – both in response to anxiety and increased digital screen time.
For example, saffron due to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects is used not only to improve mood and combat depression, but its efficacy is also now being explored for preventing age-related ocular diseases.
Significantly, the trend for mood formulations is proving universal and, the differences we see are in regional preferences for dosage forms, ingredient types, and most importantly flavor profiles. For example, in China we have introduced a center-filled, plant-based and sugar-free gummy product containing the active ingredients GABA (γ-aminobutyric acid) and theanine. This product is used to promote relaxation and calm before sleep and is combined with a regional flavor profile. The product combines peach and oolong tea in the filling and jasmine and lavender in the outer layer. This personalization of ingredients and flavors will continue to drive forward innovation, new dosages and ultimately products with greatest growth potential for nutraceutical brands.
This is very much where the market is heading, with the development research and new products design now emerging from contract partners. It is why earlier this year we launched a global nutra-innovation team that empowers customers not only with constant innovation in ingredient combinations, but also trends and learning from different preferences across the globe.
Smart manufacturing and resilient supply chains
Another area we believe we will now see lasting changes from the pandemic are in the nutraceutical manufacturing plants themselves. The last year has drawn specific focus on the importance of supply chain resilience, management and remote resources. The most advanced contract partners are adopting smart factories and process controls for customers to have reassurance. The biggest lesson from the pandemic is that you need to look closely at supply robustness and capability of any of your partners. How much capacity they have, do they deliver in time and how much flexibility they can build into planning. We have seen in the last 6-months many logistics challenges across all markets with a shortage of containers, drivers and suitable transport conditions.
Consequentially, nutraceutical companies will want to ensure they work with contract players with large and robust facilities. There will be a preference for those that can offer multiple contingencies while maintaining high production quality and service. And that may well be a longer lasting change as bigger brands look for more strategic partners and global resources in case of any facility down time.
Overall, we anticipate a far larger number of nutraceuticals will be taken in more novel delivery forms, notably softgels and gummies. Nutraceuticals will also be a key part of new lifestyle-based consumer approaches and form an integral part of their preventative health and wellness-based choices. In terms of contract manufacturing, we therefore expect the biggest growth among CDMOs that have the expertise to help customers develop new formulations, but also the ability to deliver in multiple markets.
 Technavio – Nutraceuticals Market by Product and Geography – Forecast and Analysis 2021-2025; Sep. 2021
 McKinsey – Feeling good: The future of the $1.5 trillion wellness market, April 2021
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