Despite ongoing regulatory issues with regard to health claims, the positioning of food and drink products on a heart health platform appears to be continuing unabated. Data from the Innova Database shows that product launches positioned on a heart health platform have nearly tripled over the past five years and accounted for nearly 1.5% of total food and drinks launches recorded over the 12-month period ending April 2010, up from less than 0.7% in 2005.
The United States and Europe have dominated this activity, accounting for two-thirds of heart health launches recorded by Innova Market Insights. In terms of types of product, the bakery and cereals sector dominates with over a quarter of the total, ahead of dairy products with 12%, ready meals and meal components with 10%, and soft drinks with 9%.
While these products are taking a specific heart health positioning, there are many other products not included where the benefit may be implied but it is not specifically mentioned, with the use of ingredients perceived by consumers to be heart healthy sufficing in many instances. Ingredients falling into this category include omega-3 fatty acids, whole grains, oats, and soy, although all of these have also been linked with other health benefits.
“The heart health market seems set for further development over the next five years,” said Innova Market Insights’ Head of Research Lu Ann Williams. “Factors at work include pricing, regulatory, industry, and supplier issues, the direction and outcome of many of which is still far from certain, but overall growth rates will depend on if and how some of these start to be resolved.”
The health claims situation has been causing considerable difficulties in some parts of the functional foods market, although the heart-health sector has fared better than many, with heart healthy ingredients such as plant sterols/stanols for cholesterol reduction and the Fruitflow anti-thrombotic tomato extract both providing sufficient evidence to have their health claims approved by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), although approval for claims about some other ingredients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, is proving more problematic.