As the economic downturn continues, it appears that one sector of the chemical industry is weathering the storm: food ingredients. In particular the segment targeted towards health and nutrition remains buoyant with a theme of disease prevention rather than cure being promoted. Also, new segments in the industry are emerging with softer trends now being explored such as ‘beauty from within’ – with anti-wrinkle, anti-ageing and protection from sun damage being at the forefront of this boom. Since the late 1990s I’ve observed a move from general wellbeing to products addressing specific health issues such as bone health, and now with a more holistic approach to maintaining health and wellbeing the opportunities for the industry appear endless.
As mentioned the health and nutrition trend is bolstering the food ingredients industry during the downturn, with a number of companies particularly those focused on the health and nutrition segment announcing positive Q1 results, for example DSM had an 8% increase in net sales for the 1st quarter compared to 2008, stating that “business conditions in Nutrition are expected to remain relatively favorable in 2009”.
Clearly, despite the global recession many factors are working in favour of the industries – namely food and personal care – which are nurturing the health and wellbeing trend. Ageing populations, in both Europe and US, where the baby boomers reside, increased need to maintain appearance in light of job insecurity and an increased ‘prevention approach’ to disease are all acting to support industry growth.
At this time suppliers of food ingredients should continue to focus on investment in new applications and innovation to support their customers, the final product manufacturers. As well as development of new ingredients to address more specific and perhaps softer issues, companies should continue to focusing on widening the applications which their products can serve.
Food Ingredient companies which were focused on nutraceuticals are now seeking opportunities within the cosmeceuticals industry exploiting the beauty from within trend further blurring the lines between industries. Lutein, for example, which is known to protect eyes from ageing macular degeneration is now being explored within the skin care market – studies have shown that lutein may act as a preventative agent against UVB-induced skin cancer and lycopene another carotenoid is being targeted within the skin health market. Also, extracts such as grape or green tea which were originally found in supplement form are now widely available in moisturising creams and other personal care items. Widening the application scope for any ingredient will help raise consumer awareness and have a positive impact on sales – helping maintain the food ingredients position as star within an otherwise flagging chemicals industry.