FocusRecession boosts demand for nutritional ingredients

30 October 2009 16:52  [Source: ICIS news]

NEW YORK (ICIS news)--The global recession is driving consumers to use more supplements and food fortified with nutritional ingredients, several food ingredient producers said on Friday.

The nutritional supplement industry has held up during the economic recession because of people trying to stay healthy to avoid costly medical bills, said David Shannon, sales director of health care business at UK-based specialty chemical company Croda.

“People are now using more self-diagnosis to avoid a trip to see their doctor and pay subsequent co-pays and prescription charges,” said Shannon.

“Instead, they may try a supplement to treat some medical complaints and therefore avoid costly medical bills if the supplement helps to alleviate their conditions,” he added.

Job losses and the ensuing loss of job-related health insurance have further driven people to self-medicate with supplements and nutritional food ingredients, said Sharrann Simmons, senior marketing manager with Germany-based Cognis’s nutrition and health business.

“Financial pressures are pushing people to further protect their health maybe because they don’t have health insurance, their medical co-payments are too high, or they are worried about losing their health insurance,” said Simmons.

Omega-3 fatty acid has become one of the most popular among all other functional food ingredients and supplements because of the variety of health benefits provided, she added.

The global value of the fish oil and algae-based omega-3 ingredient market is around €800m-1bn ($1.2bn-1.5bn), according to an estimate by Netherlands-based specialty chemical and food ingredient company DSM.

The omega-3 market is growing at 10-13% annually, said Amanda Ruess, director of nutritional lipids at DSM.

“The science relating to the health benefits of omega-3 gets stronger and stronger. Consumers are now more aware for the need of omega-3 as an essential nutrient in their diet,” Ruess said.

($1 = €0.67)

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