Capitalising The Clinical Nutrition Opportunity

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

Asia pacific is the largest clinical nutrition market in the world and is set to sustain its tremendous growth. With many factors driving demand in the region, clinical nutrition is an area that is worth looking into. By Alina F Slotnik, Global MD, Customized Solutions, Glanbia Nutritionals

According to a new market report published by Persistence Market Research in January 2015, the global Clinical Nutrition market was valued at US$36.9 billion in 2013 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 4.1 percent from 2014 to 2020 to reach an estimated value of US$48.6 billion in 2020.

Unlike many large and rapidly growing traditional food and beverage markets, however, clinical nutrition is not a market dominated or led by US or European products.

In fact, high birth rates (compared with the US and Europe) paired with an increasing geriatric population is aggressively driving the demand in the Asia Pacific clinical nutrition market, making it the largest and fastest growing clinical nutrition region in the world.

However, capitalising on this large market opportunity is no easy task. With particular nutritional demands, strict quality requirements and extremely health sensitive consumers, the clinical nutrition market requires expert nutritional knowledge and manufacturing capabilities of a global calibre for success.

Infant, Enteral & Parenteral

Tzuhsun Hsu, Taipei, Taiwan

Nutrition provides human beings with the required amount of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, water, vitamins, and minerals essential for proper cellular functioning and physiological activities and to maintain energy balance in the body.

Clinical nutrition is critical for patients who are unable to consume normal food. By providing the required amounts of essential nutrients such as proteins, vitamins and minerals to patients, clinical nutrition products aid in improving metabolism, digestion, absorption, and discharge functions that are critical for normal functioning of the body.

Such products can be primarily segmented into three main categories including: infant, enteral and parenteral nutrition.

Both enteral and parenteral nutrition serve patients with digestion/ingestion inability. Enteral feeding delivers nutrition through a tube into the gastrointestinal tract while parenteral feeding (also known as intravenous feeding) is injected directly into the bloodstream.

Available in many forms including liquids, powders, tablets, injections, and foods, clinical nutrition products are most commonly formulated in liquid and powder forms.

Growing Demands

Several important trends drive the continued increase in demand for clinical nutrition products. These include:

  • Increasing birth rates and rising number of premature births
  • Ageing populations
  • Increasing incidence of chronic and lifestyle-related diseases
  • Significant incidence of malnutrition

All of these trends contribute to increased demand for clinical nutrition products, making these products vital for babies and children with special sensitivities, patients in intensive care units, patients suffering from chronic illnesses, patients recuperating from trauma and surgeries, and for patients with a high degree of malnourishment.

While all of these factors are present in the populations of Asia Pacific countries, high birth rates (and associated increases in premature births) coupled with aging populations across the region continue to be the most important drivers of the clinical nutrition market in the Asia Pacific region.

According to 2012 World Bank Group statistics, high birth rates across Asia Pacific including in India (around 21 per thousand people) and China (12 per thousand people) are propelling strong growth in demand for specialty nutrition products for babies and children.

A Global Industry Analysts Clinical Nutrition Products report published in January 2015 shows that of the three clinical nutrition segments, infant nutrition is the largest and fastest growing with a CAGR of 6.8 percent.

With the highest total number of people over 65 years of age, including the most aged country (Japan) and the most rapidly ageing country in the world (South Korea), Asia’s ageing population continues to increase demand for special nutrition products to address health issues associated with later life.

Common nutritional challenges in the ageing population include energy restriction, malnutrition, sarcopenia, obesity and other conditions. In several studies, clinical nutrition was shown to be the most efficient way to treat malnutrition and nutritional symptoms of these other health conditions, allowing associated costs to be avoided.

As a result, investments in clinical nutrition products have increased significantly among manufacturers as well as government agencies who are seeking to develop products with improved nutritional attributes.

These key dynamics explain why Asia Pacific is currently the largest clinical nutrition market in the world. According to a new market report, Global Market Study on Clinical Nutrition, published by Persistence Market Research in January 2015, the Asia Pacific clinical nutrition market (largest market in 2013) increased by 4.8 percent CAGR during 2010-2013 to reach US$15.3 billion in 2013.

Other reports project future growth to continue (and even accelerate) its rapid, current pace, projecting annual growth in the 8-11 percent range.

Nutrition Product Development

While this tremendous market opportunity is fuelling great interest in clinical nutrition product development among both large, established food companies as well as smaller regional and local players, success in this market requires particular expertise and capabilities.

Stringent regulatory requirements, the need for adequate clinical evidence in support of used ingredients, and the need to comply with safety and quality standards demand that companies participating in the clinical nutrition arena either have sophisticated internal expertise and manufacturing capabilities or partner with a supplier that has the capabilities to fulfil the strict requirements of this market.

Whether it is to expand internal capabilities allowing more rapid product development or to access expertise and production capacity not available within the organisation, product development partners with the ability to provide complete nutrient solutions in the clinical nutrition area can deliver significant value to both established manufacturers and new market entrants.

However, most ingredient manufacturer, premix suppliers and distributors that operate successfully in conventional food and beverage markets do not have the appropriate expertise, processes and resources to properly support the strict requirements and high standards of clinical nutrition products.

For successful projects, companies may wish to engage a complete nutrient solutions partner who has the experience (in development and regulatory) and capability to provide global and local support to fulfil the particular needs of clinical nutrition product development.

Solutions partner should offer not only secure ingredients sourcing and custom nutrient blending, but also provide turnkey nutritional solutions that include all facets of development, from formulations support to flexible packaging options.

Similarly, beyond the convenience of working with a single partner, execution of all activities under one roof allows greater process traceability and quality.

In an environment with strict attention to safety, accuracy, hygiene and quality, there should be quality management systems such as barcode-based quality assurance steps throughout procurement and production.

With the right partner, many companies can now take advantage of the opportunities of the dynamic clinical nutrition market with confidence.