Rapid Access International, Inc.
These days, nutrition sells. Whether it’s an enriched cereal or a dietary supplement, catering to these interests constitutes a large and growing market.
In particular, we are referring to Nutraceuticals; a term combining the words “nutrition” and “pharmaceutical”. These are foods or food products that provide health and medical benefits. Foods closer to their natural state that are fortified or enriched with nutrients, for example, are called functional foods. Dietary supplements constitute the other main category of nutraceuticals.
The nutraceuticals industry represents a multibillion dollar market worldwide. Estimates from market research firms such as Mintel, Freedonia and Frost & Sullivan range into the tens of billions, depending upon the definition used for the term. Much of the growth is fueled by increasing demand from the “boomer” generation in aging developed countries. These products seem to offer a way for them to stay healthier and thereby combat their own aging.
We spoke with Sabrina Di Blasio Marketing Coordinator & Account Manager at Neptune Technologies & Bioressources Inc. in Laval, Quebec. An important trend that Neptune has observed and benefited from in recent years is that customers are moving toward more clinically proven products.
Health benefits associated with Omega-3s were discovered in the 1960s and have since been validated through a great number of studies. The clinical evidence of these benefits has led to a worldwide market for Omega-3s of $1 Billion, according to estimates Neptune provided to us from Frost & Sullivan for 2009. Frost & Sullivan further estimates this market to be worth $2 Billion by 2015.
Neptune has seen substantial growth in the sales of their own Omega-3 product; especially over the past two years. Although it has been available since 2003, there is an increased and growing awareness of evidence suggesting the superiority of their product due largely to the fact that the body is better able to absorb the Omega-3s.
Unlike plant-based or common fish-oil Omega-3s, Neptune has pioneered an Omega-3 derived from Antarctic Krill; a shrimp-like creature found in the Antarctic Ocean. Neptune’s Director of Research and Development, Dr. Wael Massrieh, explained in an Innovations in Food Technology article published last November and pointed to evidence showing that Neptune Krill Oil (NKO®) can reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) by 33.9% compared to a reduction of 4.6% by typical fish oils. Further, he pointed to evidence that good cholesterol (HDL) was increased by 43.3% compared to an increase by 4.2% with regular fish oils.
The reason for these results, and a host of other results favoring NKO®, is attributed to the fact that better Omega-3 absorption is facilitated through its attachment to phospholipids; unlike in the case of either less efficient alternative. Ms. Di Blasio further noted that “It’s not simply better absorbed but also more efficiently assimilated, also the naturally occurring esterified astaxanthin antioxidant is a major contributor.”
As a result of this evidence and increasing awareness, Neptune predicts that their present 2% Omega-3 market share will grow to 25% of a much larger market by 2015.
Whether or not the predictions made by Neptune Technologies & Bioressources come to fruition or not is yet to be seen. Nonetheless, we are intrigued with the potential not only for them, but for the nutraceutical market as a whole. Early recognition of this trend could help some stakeholders to take steps to ensure that they benefit from the innovations yet to come and tap into the potential of this market ahead of time.
An example of this kind of foresight might be a new biotechnology hub – The Missouri Plant Science Center (MPSC) – for companies dedicated to researching and developing new functional foods, nutraceuticals and plant biotechnology products. According to a recent NutraIngredients-USA.com article, “The project is the result of a partnership between leading soy-based ingredient supplier to the nutrition industry, Soy Labs, University of Missouri and Missouri state and federal government agencies.”
（※1）Nutraceuticals, definition taken from Wikipedia.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nutraceuticals#cite_note-hc1-9. Accessed on June 1, 2010.
（※2）Stones, Mike. New Plant Science Center to Boost Functional Foods. www.NutraIngredients-USA.com. May 18, 2010.
http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/Industry/New-plant-science-center-to-boost-functional-foods. Accessed on June 1, 2010.
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