Asia Pacific Health Ingredients: What's Trending?

Monday, February 12th, 2018

Aslam Shaikh, senior research analyst, Food and Beverages, MarketsandMarkets, discusses what health ingredients are and what opportunities there are for manufacturers in Asia Pacific.

Manufacturers of food and beverage ingredients and products in the Asia Pacific region can look forward to innovative health ingredient solutions such as proteins, vitamins, minerals, prebiotics, probiotics, nutritional lipids, functional carbohydrates, plant and fruit extracts, and enzymes—all catering to the increasing health-conscious population in developing Asian economies without compromising on product integrity, quality, and nutritional value.

Health ingredients such as these are commonly incorporated in food, beverage, and pharmaceutical products today in order to enhance dietary value and make them function-specific.

For instance, probiotic yogurt is mainly used for gut health management and functional lipids such as omega-3 are used for brain health, immunity, and heart health. Vitamin- and mineral-fortified beverages are consumed for energy boosting. Vitamins, proteins, and probiotics are also added to animal feed in order to promote healthy growth in livestock.

The Asia Pacific Health Ingredients Market


But what exactly are health ingredients? Health ingredients can be defined as a class of food ingredients which offer specific health benefits and help in the treatment or prevention of conditions such as heart-related diseases. Health ingredients refer to preventive and curative effects of food beyond its nutritional value.

In recent years, health-conscious consumers are looking for not only nutritional foods but also for foods that provide essential health ingredients, to prevent possible diseases and improve physical and mental well-being. The increase in ageing population and growing consumer awareness in developing as well as developed countries are driving consumer preference for functional food with health ingredients required for the prevention or treatment of specific existing conditions or those that are likely to occur in the near future.

Asia Pacific countries have a significant number of resources of raw materials for health ingredients. Several are also major producers of fruits and vegetables. The increase in per capita income and increasing spending on health and wellness act as opportunities for the growth of the health ingredients market in this region.

The demand for health ingredients is expected to be driven by an increase in healthy processed food production and innovation in almost all segments such as energy drinks, dairy products, bakery, and confectionery products.

Asia Pacific: The Fastest-Growing Market For Health Ingredients

According to research conducted by MarketsandMarkets, the Asia Pacific health ingredients market is projected to reach US$32.7 billion by 2022, growing at a CAGR of 8.26 percent from 2017 to 2022.

China and India are projected to be the fastest-growing Asia Pacific markets for health ingredients during the forecast period. The demand for health ingredients is increasing in these countries due to the growing awareness regarding the benefits of a healthy diet and the increasing demand for function-specific food.

Health Ingredients: Benefits And Trends


Health ingredients are composed of naturally occurring components, scientifically demonstrated to promote positive effects on target functions beyond basic nutrition.

Health ingredients provide benefits such as promoting optimal health, longevity, and quality of life. With the increase in health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, and digestive disorders, a growing number of food marketers are offering products that deliver health benefits—from cholesterol reduction to immunity improvements to easing of intestinal problems.

Attractive Opportunities In The Health Ingredients Market


Some of the factors driving the growth of the health ingredients market in Asia Pacific include: the rising demand for food products with health-specific ingredients, rise in consumer preference towards a healthy diet, the increasing ageing population, and increasing application of health ingredients by manufacturing industries of food and beverages, animal feed, pharmaceuticals, and personal care.

Consumers in the Asia Pacific region are demanding time-saving and hassle-free products that are nutritious and healthy, owing to which there is a huge scope for natural ingredients. The main advantage of such products is that they are in line with the current processed food trend and are preferred not only by the younger populace but also the middle-aged population group.

The rapidly growing market for health ingredients such as prebiotics, probiotics, and functional lipids is drawing the attention of health ingredient manufacturers, who are making significant investments in the sector. Manufacturers are also facing challenges with international regulations as well as domestic food safety standards and infrastructure during the extraction and processing of the ingredients.

Prebiotics and probiotics are the emerging health ingredient segments in which researchers are focusing on developing products with various benefits and which can be used in several applications.

Food manufacturers in the Asia Pacific region are largely investing in innovative food and beverage applications fortified with health ingredients to cater to the changing consumer demand for healthy food and beverage products.

Demand And Opportunities By Market


This change in consumer demand is mainly influenced by emerging economies such as China, India, Singapore, and South Korea, due to the increasing food expenditure of the population, rising disposable incomes, and increasing health concerns among the population in this region.

This trend in these countries is also in line with the positive investigations of the health benefits of these ingredients by organisations such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), and other similar international organisations.

These organisations focus on providing a strong platform for companies to discover newer applications of health ingredients and incorporate them in a variety of applications.

The Chinese food industry is expected to develop further due to the development of industrial policies, increasing government initiatives, and investments for modernisation in food manufacturing. The country is characterised by dense population and urbanisation which has resulted in a rise in consumption of nutritional food and beverage products.

The demand for health ingredients is increasing in China due to changing lifestyles of consumers and preference for fortified food and beverage products. The increasing purchasing power of consumers due to the economic development in China will also lead to an increase in demand for high-quality processed foods.

China is expected to be the largest producer and consumer of the protein segment in the Asia Pacific region with high demand for health ingredients from functional food segments including sports and clinical nutrition.

Also, investments and expansions by players in the food and beverages industry are driving the demand for health ingredients such as proteins, prebiotics, and probiotics in China which are expected to create lucrative opportunities to increase the revenue of the functional proteins market in the future. Health ingredient manufacturers have been expanding their presence in China to meet the increasing demand from nutritional food and beverages manufacturers.

A significant development of the food and beverage industry is expected in India due to the betterment of policies, subsidies, and concessions in the food and beverage sector offered by the government. The market growth is driven due to factors such as changing lifestyles, increased health awareness, and preference for healthy eating habits in order to prevent possible diseases. Rising disposable income encourages consumers to switch to healthier lifestyle options.

Japan is focusing on faster output growth through significant structural reforms, which have boosted private sector investments and encouraged firms to invest their large cash holdings in the new business opportunities in the country. Increasing incidences of chronic conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and osteoporosis are one of the main driving factors for health ingredients in Japan.

Companies offer health ingredient-based products such as protein beverages, vitamin drinks, protein bars, breakfast cereals, yogurts, and cheeses with added calcium to help make up for this chronic dietary deficiency.

The economic situation in several emerging Asia Pacific countries results in an increase in demand for food and beverage products due to the rise in working population, urbanisation, health-conscious consumers, and fast-paced lifestyles. This has, in turn, given an opportunity to the health ingredients manufacturers to secure their position in the industry by introducing innovative nutrition-enriched products to cater to the changing nutritional demands of the consumers.

Future Food and Beverage Trends


Health ingredients are used in various food applications such as snacks, bakery products, confectionery, and dairy products. With the increasing awareness among consumers about the benefits of health ingredients, the market for them is growing, as consumers prefer balanced diets and food that not only satiates their hunger but is also nutritional. Therefore, the growing market for health ingredients is presenting opportunities for new and innovative applications in the health ingredients market.

Health ingredients such as vitamins, minerals, and flavonoids are used in confectionery to provide better texture, stability, flavour, and chewiness to the products. The market for health ingredients for applications in food is driven by the growing number of varieties of confectionery products in the market.

Consumers are always more conscious about the health of children and hence prefer purchasing confectionery products that have health benefits. This is another factor driving manufacturer focus towards innovation of confectionery with added health ingredients and extra benefits.

With the increasing preference for palatable and convenience food that is also healthy, manufacturers of bakery products are using various health ingredients in their products. Soy proteins are used in bakery products such as bread, cakes, and cookies to improve their appearance and enhance the nutritional value of the product.

The market for health ingredients for beverage applications is driven by health-conscious consumers who advocate the inclusion of nutritional ingredients in their diets. The demand for functional beverages is increasing across the globe, especially in the Asia Pacific region.

Beverages are the most active functional foods among the functional food category due to the convenience of the product type, ease of distribution, easy refrigeration to enhance shelf life, and availability in different packaging sizes and shapes. They also have a high potential to incorporate desirable health and nutrition ingredients.

The various health benefits provided are provided by several functional juices include improving joint health, increasing muscle and bone strength, decreasing risk factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes, enhancing digestion, and reducing wrinkles.

Snacks and meal replacer-based products include dry nuts, grains, nutritional bars, and crackers. Ingredients such as fruit flakes, balls, and chips are present in these crackers and nutritional bars. Health ingredients such as vitamins, minerals, proteins, fatty acids, flavonoids, and hydrocolloids are used in these products to improve their nutritional value with the enhancement of quality, texture, and shelf life.

Consumers are inclining more towards snacks made with ingredients such as vegetables, legumes, high-protein foods, and ancient grains. Due to this, food manufacturers are introducing several healthy snack products.

Health ingredients such as vitamins, minerals, proteins, and nutritional lipids are used in sports and nutritional drinks. A variety of sports drinks have been developed by companies to provide specific medical or health benefits, such as promoting heart health, improving immunity and digestion, and helping to boost energy. The market is driven by changing lifestyles of consumers and the rising awareness among consumers about the importance of being healthy and fit.

The significant economic growth of the population in the Asia Pacific region and rising awareness of the potential health benefits along with their ability to be incorporated into a wide range of beverage products are the key factors contributing to the high growth rate for the health ingredients market in this region.

Increasing Health-Consciousness Among Consumers 


The recent trend of health-consciousness is a common one across all the continents—North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, and the rest of the world.

Ingredient manufacturers are focusing on catering to the changing consumer demand for food and beverage products, and are opting for new product launches, increasing R&D investments, new technologies, and collaborations with research institutes to offer healthy ingredients which are in line with the health-conscious trend of consumers.

Enhancement of the nutritional value of food products with the usage of health ingredients provides various health benefits to the end-user. This is possible not only in food and beverage applications but also in non-food applications such as dietary supplements and animal feed.

Moreover, health ingredients allow for the use of organic and natural ingredients in various applications without compromising on the quality, texture, and nutritional value of the products.

With further biotechnology advancements, it is expected that health ingredients will become the key natural ingredients of choice for most food and beverage manufacturers across Asia Pacific.