The nutraceutical market is now more than 15 years old in the US and Europe, but it still remains hard to predict.
The Functional foods are estimated to account for 25% of all food products in the next decade. Today, the most important market is the US with US$ 19 bio. The continuing growth of the food supplement industry and a real expansion in some other segments such as soft drinks or luxury foods in Japan and the US, suggests that:
- the consumer wants to be in charge of his health
- foods appear to be a good vector for the health demand
- functional foods will probably soon establish a new market standard more decisively away from existing practice.
The Asiatic market Faced with a large elderly population and dotted of a strong domestic phytotherapy tradition and expertise in bio products, Japan was the first country to recognize and regulate functional food. It is named Food for Specific Health Use (FOSHU) and it was founded in the early 1980s. Japan is the most advanced market with a flexible regulatory environment.
The US market As we have seen, US is the largest nutraceutical market and this is probably due to cultural as well as regulating factors, US consumers have a long history of taking food supplements, and the regulation on claim and new product commercialization is rather permissive.
In Europe, due to a much more restrictive regulatory climate and a lack of harmonization, the functional food sector remains a «hit or miss» development opportunity, with many products not becoming commercially successful. But the explosive growth of the US and Japanese markets has created similar expectations for the European market.