NBT Awards at Vitafoods Europe 2013: Highlights From a Night Celebrating Innovation and the Success of Nutraceuticals
A highlight of Vitafoods Europe 2013 was the Nutraceutical Business & Technology (NBT) awards night hosted by Via Communications Ltd in partnership with Vitafoods Europe and Finished Products Europe 2013. It was an evening which recognised significant developments in terms of quality of service, health management, research and development (R&D) and relationship management.
This article features the highlights of the awards dinner and presentation and the key areas addressed. These include immune health, weight management, targeting the ageing population, the re-emergence of omega-3 and finally the importance of relationships within the industry.
The Winning Products and their Global Development Potential
Source: Euromonitor International
1. Weight management remains integral
As the overweight and obese population continues to grow across the globe, weight management is a major concern for many consumers.
Slim-Med from KitoZyme, a weight management-focused medical device, took home the NBT award for Best New Finished Product. Slim-Med has been designed to help reduce excess weight and lower the fat and cholesterol intake from food. The main active ingredient in the product, chitosan, acts by binding to lipids and absorbing the cholesterol within the body. As chitosan is made from vegetable sources it can appeal to consumers on all types of diets and thus target a wide consumer base.
Sales of weight management food and drink products reached US$154.7 billion in 2012, up nearly 27% since 2007. With such significant interest in products positioned purely for the purpose of losing a few pounds, manufacturers are continuing to invest in new product development, particularly of functional ingredients. Retail sales of weight management foods and beverages rose by a staggering US$32.5 billion over 2007-2012. The overweight and obese population is also a target for other health positionings, including beauty from within.
Beauty from within a good target for the weight-conscious
One ingredient with a beauty-from-within positioning which attracted attention at the NBT awards was Cellulight from Bionov, which took home the award for Most Innovative Ingredient. Cellulight is made from a natural melon juice concentrate rich in superoxide dismutase, and according to the company it is the first ingredient available orally with scientific evidence of an anti-cellulite effect. Whilst cellulite is of concern to women only, products aligned with it can target both young and ageing consumers. Beauty from within is a growing trend, with food and drink with such a positioning set to post a CAGR of 5% over 2012-2017.
2. Immune health – opportunities beyond probiotics
Biothera, The Immune Health Co, won the award for Outstanding Application in Health Management for its Wellmune WGP Clinical Research Programme, presented by Ewa Hudson, Euromonitor International’s Head of Global Health and Wellness research. The main active ingredient used in its product is a proprietary baker’s yeast beta 1,3/1,6 glucan, which has been clinically proven to boost key immune cells to keep the body healthy. Wellmune has been permitted for use in 50 countries across the world, including approval as a Novel Food in the EU in 2011 as research into the product has shown improvements in immune function, including a reduction in upper respiratory tract symptoms and seasonal allergy symptoms.
In fact, immune support has the potential to be a clear winner from the recently published Article 13.1 general health claims in the EU. In 2012, global retail value sales of immune support-positioned foods and beverages stood at US$3.4 billion. Even though probiotics – a key driver of immune support-positioned food and drink – failed to gain a single claim in the EU, products with an immune support positioning are still in demand across the globe. As such, manufacturers which offer novel ingredients and products are set to do well. If the company continues to promote its immune health-related benefits it has the potential to rival probiotics for its position as a functional ingredient within immune support and could play some part in reversing the decline in growth (-0.8% CAGR) forecast for the 2012-2017 period globally.
Euromonitor International’s Head of Health and Wellness Research, Ewa Hudson, Presents the award for Outstanding Application in Health Management to the makers of Biothera
3. Targeting the ageing population
Globally, the ageing population is on the rise. By 2017, the world’s population aged 60 and above will exceed one billion. This consumer base remains untapped with regard to those trends associated with ageing, but also those with anti-ageing as consumers do not want to get old. As such, they have continued to spend on products that reduce the signs of ageing, despite tough economic conditions. Sales of anti-ageing beauty products, for example, were worth nearly US$23 billion in 2012.
Gnosis SpA is right on trend, taking home the first award of the night for the Most Effective Product Development Strategy. It was Gnosis’ product Mythocondro, a non-animal chondroitin sulphate (CS), which impressed the judges. Normally made from cartilage obtained from cattle or pig, for example, Mythocondro is unique in the fact that it has a similar structure to conventional CS but from a non-animal origin of fermentation origin. According to Gnosis, it is “the only non-animal alternative providing an almost unlimited source to face the growing demand for joint health in an ageing population”.
CS, which is recommended by the European League Against Rheumatism as a symptomatic slow acting drug for osteoarthritis, is surely able to target an ever-growing ageing audience.
Well-known vitamins and minerals could target untapped consumer base
It was apparent that it was not just novel ingredients that were the flavour of the night. The nutraceuticals industry is also being driven by developments within vitamins and minerals. The EU Article 13.1 claims proved how important these are to health, with two-thirds of the claims associated with the benefits of vitamins and minerals.
In association with Vitafoods Europe, the award for Best New Product was given to VitaPlus Ltd for its ingredient MagnExpress. Advances in technology have led to the development of this product, which is a drinking granulate with 375mg of magnesium (equivalent to 100% of the RDA). According to the company, it is the first product on the market which dissolves clear in water, is sediment-free, fast and effective in 90 seconds. Magnesium is well recognised for its oral health, bone and energy-boosting benefits as well as its importance for general wellbeing and is a clear fit for the ageing population.
4. Omega-3 revitalised
The use of omega-3 as a supplement and even as a key functional ingredient in food and drink is nothing new. However, there was clear evidence of its re-emergence at Vitafoods Europe 2013 thanks to new sources and techniques for sustainable, flavourless omega-3.
Omega-3 ingredient manufacturers which offer sustainably-sourced products such as Olympic Seafood AS stood out among the pack at Vitafoods. In fact, Olympic Seafood took home the award for Environmental Excellence for taking extra steps to ensure the responsible management of its omega-3 sourcing. Its brand Rimfrost Krill Collection and its trademarked Eco-Collecting technique were launched in May 2012. According to the company, it focuses on technological excellence to ensure it has a low impact on the climate. In addition, the aim of the brand is to enable consumers to understand the origins of krill and experience the Antarctic ecosystem. The brand focuses on what consumers are increasingly demanding from food and drink products – openness and traceability.
Another key factor clearly evident at the trade show was the strong marketing campaigns from a variety of companies promoting a lack of a fishy aftertaste. Norwegian-based Aker BioMarine was so sure of the taste of its krill-based products that it launched its krill oil – which has less of an aftertaste than fish oil – as the next generation of omega-3 in mid-2012 in the UK after seeing success in the US and Australia. On the back of this campaign, which specifically targeted the education of consumers, the company took the NBT award for Most Effective Marketing Campaign.
Euromonitor International estimates that the global omega-3 market in packaged format (consisting of supplements, food and drink) reached sales of US$33 billion in 2012, 72% of which stemmed from milk formula alone. Interest pertaining to heart, brain and vision health shows no sign of slowing down as consumers continue to understand its benefits. Omega-3 supplements, for example, were the third fastest growing type of supplement globally over 2007-2012 with a 12% CAGR.
5. Innovation at the heart of health and wellness
The Battle Creek Project, a collaboration between Battle Creek Unlimited and Covance, won the award for the Best New Partnership, Merger or Acquisition. This partnership was created to utilise the synergies between educational, research and private companies to build the next generation of scientific leaders and innovative thinkers. The Downtown Battle Creek/Cereal City Transformation project is based on four pillars – food protection, private investment, investment in innovation and influencing the future of the functional foods industry. Based in Michigan in the US, home to three national and international cereal and food product manufacturers, Covance wanted to turn around the decline in employment opportunities. If this project continues to be successful it has potential to further develop nutraceuticals and be vital to the communities involved.
Health and wellness – a trillion dollar industry
A strong recovery of the global health and wellness market is occurring, with value sales growing by 6.3% in 2012. Products offering specific health benefits, such as fortified/functional attributes, or those renowned for their natural health properties drove value sales. Steady real term growth of 7.2% is expected to continue to 2017, with global health and wellness sales on the way to reaching a record high of US$1 trillion by 2017.
The NBT awards highlighted the dedication to the health and wellness industry and more importantly the high level and wide variety of innovation happening within nutraceuticals in Europe. Despite the introduction of more restrictive legislation, the winners and nominees in each category have continued to develop and improve the nutraceutical products available to businesses and consumers alike.