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Obesity drives weight management market, but education needed

By Shane Starling , 23-Jun-2010
Last updated on 23-Jun-2010 at 19:03 GMT

The global market for satiety, fat burning and other weight management ingredients grew about seven percent in 2009 to be worth $7.5bn despite low consumer awareness of specific ingredient benefits, Frost & Sullivan reports.

In a new report, ‘Opportunities in Global Weight Management Ingredients’, the market researcher predicts the market will surge to $13.9bn by 2015, but urges companies to engage in co-branding exercises to further build the category.

“The obesity trend is growing, and shows no sign of slowing down. However, in 2009, the awareness of the benefits of weight management ingredients is neither sufficient nor clearly perceived by consumers, and could benefit from extensive marketing efforts,” the report suggests.

“With the promotion of a clear educational message to consumers regarding the validity and value of consuming these ingredients, the market should continue to develop and enjoy a promising future.

The report suggests about 80 per cent of global weight management products and ingredients are non-branded.

It encourages suppliers to:

  • engage in co-branding initiatives to boost awareness and brand equity
  • ensure clinical studies are in place to back claims as well as marketing to convey the data
  • create strategic partnerships with food manufacturers and other organizations
  • keep taste as a high priority

Regionally, rising obesity rates in Asia present further opportunities as incomes rise and diets mimic those of the west. "The resultant rise in obesity rates is spurring consumer interest in active health management, fueling market growth."

Regulation

Meal replacements are highlighted as a popular method of consuming weight management ingredients in 2009 – notable since the report also specifies regulation as one of the biggest obstacles to further growth, especially in the area of claims. In Europe, meal replacements are the only weight management product to win a positive health claim under the stringent system there.

“Legislative issues have contributed to create high entry barriers, as European ingredient manufacturers wait for their product claims to be approved or rejected by regulators,” the report states. “In other regions, no regulations exist at all, and regulatory systems in other regions are in need of complete overhaul.”

Regulatory efforts being coordinated by the likes of the Association of South East Nations (ASEAN) are bridging these gaps.

“Aside from legislative challenges, the market is highly attractive in helping to solve the main problem of obesity and overweight issues. Consumers are seeking out natural, healthy solutions to help them maintain and/or lose weight by eating less calories, and are increasingly doing so in the context of a healthy diet and lifestyle plan, with increasing skepticism over magic bullet products.”

The popularity of products that promote dietary weight management solutions in synchronization with lifestyle change are also noted.

“However, the largest segment of the weight management market is certainly the lifestyle management aspect, with companies such as Jenny Craig in the United States promoting the interface between dietary and exercise management. Thus, much of the market development initiatives in this area will remain a matter of consumer choice.”

“In future years, there will be a trend towards the combination of weight management ingredient products, and the development of new dietary management programmes.”

The rise of naturally sourced ingredients is also noted along with emerging weight management benefits for probiotics.

Frost & Sullivan’s research was primarily conducted in the 27 EU member states, North America and the Asia Pacific.

The most popular ingredients include fibre; protein ingredients such as soy, milk/whey and casein; and botanical extracts such as Hoodia gordonni, CLA, Yerba mate, Citrus aurantium, Caralluma fimbriata.

 

Packaged Facts puts the global market at $18bn for weight loss foods and drinks including bars, snacks, drinks, frozen meals and desserts.

 

Two thirds of US adults and one third of children and adolescents are overweight or obese, Packaged Facts said. Adult obesity rates had increased 48 percent between 1988 and 2008; 72 percent in the case of teenagers and children.

 

Nearly 40 percent of American adults are watching their diet to remove or maintain weight – or about 85m people. Of that 40 per cent, about 28 per cent are trying to lose weight and 13 percent maintain weight.

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