The consultancy, which has just published a report entitled Developments in the Global Phytonutrients Market, says that there is strong interest in phytonutrients or ingredients from plant extracts on the basis of their purported health benefits – not only from the functional foods and supplements industries but also from cosmetics companies. But it expects that stringent regulations in some markets – such as the new health and nutrition claims regulation in the EU – could impede future growth unless the ingredients come with a body of science to back up their efficacy. Amongst the phytonutrient categories that have built up a strong reputation, both at industry and consumer level, are phytosterols that are used in cholesterol-lowering foods (from dairy products to bakery and even cold cuts). Isoflavones are also the subject of research into potential for hormone-related disturbances such as breast cancer and prostate cancer. Research analyst Balaji Vasudevamurthy said that the category is doing well presently because of the overall trend towards preventative medicine. "If companies can establish the effectiveness of products, this can help boost the confidence levels of consumers," he said. "Companies can also consider working on a partnership basis or form joint ventures, as this can help in sharing research costs and capabilities." Frost & Sullivan has not publicly released a figure for the global phytonutrient market. But it valued the European phytosterols market at US$184.6m (around €140.5m at today's exchange rates) in 2005, and estimates this to reach $395.2m (€300.9) by 2012, an increase of 114 per cent.