Powerful market insights, vital regulatory overviews, new product and ingredient development as well as on-the-ground, market-specific trading acumen had attendees buzzing at the first Nutracon Europe conference, held June 14-15 in London.
Sports nutrition, cosmeceutical innovation, nutrigenomics and nanotechnology also featured prominently in the two-day event held in the shadow of the famous London Eye and the Houses of Parliament by the River Thames.
Highlights were new and revealing insights into various European markets, particularly the explosive potential of eastern European countries such as Turkey, Poland, the Ukraine and Russia.
Nutrition Business Journal editor Grant Ferrier noted that although beginning from a relatively small base, most eastern European countries were experiencing healthy double digit growth with Russia's supplements market valued at $670 million and growing by 18 per cent per annum. Hungary registered 30 per cent growth year-on-year.
Belgium-based European Advisory Services (EAS) director, Simon Pettman, added that the new US GMPs would have an influence in Europe and assist the process of raising supplement quality standards particularly in new markets.
Gregory Temkin, of New York consultancy Russian Nutrition, made a positive case for doing business in Russia. Local knowledge was key, he said, particularly when dealing with what could only be described as an idiosyncratic regulator — but the potential rewards were vast and Temkin was swamped with questions after his presentation.
Presentations on the French, Polish, Turkish and Chinese markets were similarly well received.
A fiery debate about the merits of marketing branded ingredients to consumers and the status of European health claims regulations ended the day.
Day two saw sports nutrition come under the spotlight with discussions on marketing and regional differentiation strategies as well as contamination issues. GlaxoSmithKline's legislation and procedural affairs director, Richard Ross, spelled out the history and development of GSK's Lucozade brand — one of the oldest sports nutrition brands in the world. He too wondered how impending European health claims legislation would effect the slogans Lucozade made on its packaging and promotional materials.
Nutrition Directions managing director Stephanie French cast an expert eye over the cosmeceuticals world and highlighted innovations in a booming sector. I-nutrition, aka nutrigenomics, was something food companies ignored at their peril, she said. Nutrigenomics and nanotechnology rounded out the conference, with future applications discussed including product skins and packaging lifespan increases which were likely to bring nanotechnology into the mainstream.
Attendees from North America, Australia and Asia mingled with Brits and both eastern and western Europeans, including regulators, academics, consultants, trade association heads and R&D company representatives, scientific and marketing experts at the event.
"It was a fantastic conference with very interesting presentations," said Marc J Tallon, a UK-based consultant to the food and supplements industry and co-founder of Cr-Technologies, an ingredients supplier. "The networking breaks were a great way to meet potential clients like food manufacturers, and not only have I learnt a lot from these people but business has been done also. I'll be back next year."