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Brain health: new frontier for functional foods

Brain health: new frontier for functional foods
Aging population is set to boom the cognitive health market. Here's what's next.

Within less than 40 years, the number of people globally who are affected by dementia will triple. Dementia is currently not wholly preventable. However, a growing body of evidence suggests risk can be greatly reduced. In a new report, Canadean looks at how cognitive health will become a key area for functional food and drinks to target.

Aging population is set to boom the cognitive health market 
With rapidly aging populations the number of consumers suffering from cognitive issues such as dementia and Alzheimer’s will rapidly increase. In the EU alone, for instance, there will be over 19 million more consumers aged 65 and over in 2025 than there were in 2014. Ronan Stafford, senior analyst at Canadean says: “Aging populations mean the market for preventative cognitive health products will grow. However, marketers first need to find a way to target a need most consumers prefer not to talk about.”

Cognitive health needs to make the jump from performance boosts to prevention
The cognitive health market is currently dominated by short-term performance boosts, but these are far from the idea of tackling mental decline. Making the jump to the prevention of diseases such as dementia is going to be extremely challenging despite the attractiveness of the market. The science of dementia is immature—there is no cure, the risk factors are known but poorly understood, and the clinical evidence to support health claims approval is at best limited.

Products in the UK are already starting to target older consumers’ cognitive health. One particular product features green tea extracts, L-theanine and vitamins, ingredients claimed to help to keep your mind healthy throughout life. Yet few consumers are currently aware of the possibilities of preventative cognitive health, and even then manufacturers will find it difficult to convince consumers to adopt regular, frequent consumption of preventative cognitive health products. Known risk factors such as obesity, heart health and cerebro-vascular health are easier to target, with functional products taking aim at older consumers’ physical and mental well-being.


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