Sales of weight management solutions are soaring in the wake of growing awareness of the extent of overweight and obesity on a global level. Dietary supplements are playing an increasing role and, as a result, demand for weight loss ingredients is probably at an all-time high, resulting in a growing number of new ingredients and blends emerging, but also raising concerns about the extent of regulatory control and the safety and efficacy of some products.
Weight loss supplements accounted for nearly 7 percent of global dietary supplement launches recorded by Innova Market Insights in the 12 months to the end of September 2014, led by increasing activity in Europe, which currently has a relatively undeveloped and fragmented market. The US has by far the most established market for dietary supplements and tends to lead market and product developments, with other regions such as Europe following on.
A review of recent US new product activity in weight loss supplements recorded by Innova Market Insights illustrates the range of products available, varying from blends just emphasizing weight loss in their names to more specific mechanisms, such as appetite suppressants or fat burners, mainly containing a range of active ingredients, to products focusing on just one key ingredient.
Ingredients vary from the relatively well-established, such as whey protein and green tea, to the more unusual. These are sometimes more fashionable but often less well-researched, such as raspberry ketones, African mango seed, Garcinia cambogia, bitter orange (Citrus aurantium), green coffee extract, Forskolin (from Coleus forskolii) and white mulberry (Morus alba).
“The reasons for weight gain are numerous and complex and the solutions likewise. The weight management industry is also broad and complex and companies must look to paying greater attention to safety and efficacy data as regulations become more stringent,” Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation at Innova Market Insights, reports. “Current issues surrounding unsubstantiated claims and regulatory breaches particularly need to be resolved in order to build up consumer trust and ensure ongoing sales and a consistent growth pattern,” she adds.
Within the mainstream food and drinks market products positioned on a specific weight management platform remain relatively few and far between, however, with much greater attention paid to developing a low and light foods and beverages market.
According to Innova Market Insights, 10 percent of global food and drinks launches recorded in the 12 months to the end of September 2014 used one or more claims relating to low calorie, low fat and/or low sugar content. Activity tends to focus on a broader general health and wellbeing platform rather than using specific slimming or weight management claims. Just 0.7 percent of global launches used a specific weight management platform over the same period, rising to 1 percent in the US. Cereal products, ready meals, hot beverages and soft drinks accounted for the highest number of launches positioned on a weight management platform, with a combined 38 percent of the global total.