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Increasing awareness will boost carotenoid market

A report on the European carotenoids market by analyst Frost and Sullivan has highlighted the potential of relatively new entrants such as lycopene and lutein, while warning that public awareness must be raised if this potential is to be reached.

The growing interest in functional foods is driving demand for these new carotenoids, the report says. More traditional carotenoids such as beta-carotene, astaxanthin and canthaxanthin, which still account for the bulk of the $348.5 million European market, were used predominantly as animal feed and colourants. The market is expected to grow to $420 million by 2010.

?Low consumer awareness of the health benefits of carotenoids particularly affects the newer, naturally extracted carotenoids lycopene, lutein and natural beta-carotene,? said food research manager Anna Ibbotson. ?The challenge is to educate consumers.?

Despite these reservations, the report predicts the supplements and fortified foods sector of the carotenoids market to be the fastest growing in the next seven years, with revenue shares increasing from 18.2 per cent to 27 per cent.

Lutein?s excellent awareness
One company that has excelled in the awareness area is Kemin, to which Frost and Sullivan awarded a Brand Awareness Development Award for its work in promoting its FloraGlo lutein brand. Through innovative marketing and strategic partnerships in the supplements, functional foods and cosmeceuticals industries, Kemin has helped raise lutein awareness to around 50 per cent in the US and about 20 per cent in Europe.

?Of course it could always be better, but we are quite satisfied with the awareness levels in European countries,? said Kemin marketing manager, Pedro Vieira. ?The market is ready to expand. We are looking at opportunities in some new sectors but mostly we are consolidating our position on dietary supplements and ocular health. There will be some major supplement products coming out soon that will further raise the profile of lutein.?

Driving demand
An increased emphasis on personal health and an ageing population seeking preventive health measures would drive carotenoid demand, the report notes. Carotenoids reduce the risk of degenerative diseases, prevent cardiac ailments, combat cancers such as prostate cancer and boost immune function. The report noted high entry barriers have stabilised the number of market participants at about 30 companies, with two leading companies—DSM Nutritionals and BASF—controlling 75 per cent of the total carotenoids market and dominating the three largest segments of the industry. These three areas are beta-carotene, astaxanthin and canthaxanthin. Smaller players proliferate in the lutein and lycopene markets.

?In the past it was just beta-carotene but now there is a whole spectrum of carotenoids available to consumers, all with their own specific benefit. I think they will all carve out a market for themselves,? said Joost Overeem, the European sales manager of Israeli-based lycopene supplier Lycored.

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