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Spiralling growth of nutraceuticals sector in GCC countries
Monday, 10 February, 2020, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Laltu Sinha
The term “nutraceutical” incorporates two terms -”nutrient” (a nutrient component) and “pharmaceutical” (a medicine), which is used to describe any product extracted from food sources to offer additional health benefits in addition to the basic nutritional value found in foods.

Nutraceuticals are flexible in nature as they are used in various industries such as food and beverage pharmaceuticals, feed additives and personal care. According to BlueWeave Consulting, the demand for nutraceutical excipients in the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries is a highly lucrative opportunity and expected to grow with a CAGR of above 7.5% over the forecast period of 2018-2025.

Demand for safe, organic, and clean label products is rising due to increasing consumer awareness. Consumers also seek more healthy foods and dietary supplements to reduce the lack of nutrients in their daily diet. GCC, home to some of the largest oil-exporting countries in the world, is also experiencing a surge in demand for nutraceuticals. The per capita income in many countries in the Middle-East is equivalent to that of Western countries, but lack of awareness has built entry barriers for different products. Today, with growing ownership of smartphones coupled with the availability of high-speed Internet, there is an upsurge in demand for products offering health benefits. Hypermarkets/supermarkets have emerged as the leading purchasing outlets for these products.

Benefits of nutraceuticals
Increasing awareness among consumers in GCC countries about the benefits of nutraceuticals products over traditional medicines is expected to fuel the demand, which in turn will prompt producers to diversify their product offerings. Moreover, families in the GCC countries that are highly concerned about the nutrients consumed in their children’s daily intake, rely on nutraceuticals as a supplement. The safe ingredients in nutraceuticals have resulted in declining oral health and prevalence of diabetes and hypertension among the elderly population. Also, nutraceuticals are available in various forms such as tablets, capsules, liquid and powder.

Large pharmaceutical companies are looking to tap into GCC’s lucrative nutraceuticals market, by extending their product offerings. Based on type of segment, weight management and digestive nutraceuticals for wellness, is expected to experience robust demand in GCC countries in the coming years. One of the main criteria that leading brands will be focussing on is to fulfil the stringent regulatory requirements of the GCC countries. Companies that integrate the local flavour in their products will have a better chance of attracting customers in GCC countries.

Substantial rise in the cost of raw materials and high production costs has led to increase in prices, which is posing a challenge in the growth of nutraceuticals market in the region. Moreover, continuous rise in R&D costs by

major companies to offer unique products is also projected to limit the market. Nevertheless, it is predicted that recent developments and discoveries of function-specific antioxidants will create new opportunities in the near future.

As a result of rising medical use, due to their various advantages and anti-ageing properties, nutraceutical applications can be found in the personal care category. Nutraceutical’s incorporation with personal care is branched into “Cosmeceutical.” Nutraceutical ingredients such as natural herbs and antioxidants defend the skin against various infections and diseases. Nutraceutical food products such as food fortified with omega-3 fatty acid and herbal extract nutraceutical types are gaining traction. Moreover, edible oils contain omega-3 fatty acid helping in preventing arteries from hardening.

Trade liberalisation has changed the trend of food consumption globally and has allowed numerous manufacturers and distributors of nutraceuticals to supply goods to various countries in the region. This is one of the main driving nutraceuticals market growth factors in the GCC region as well. While all of MENA is experiencing demand for nutraceuticals, the GCC is of particular importance to nutraceutical companies.

Concerns of lifestylerelated diseases
Growing preference for personalised food to cater specific health benefit is one of the main trends in the nutraceuticals market. Demand for customised nutrition is rising, especially among people with intestinal-related medical conditions, where conventional treatment is ineffective. Increasing health concerns about lifestyle-related illnesses like diabetes and obesity have led customers to use nutraceuticals as a means of reducing the risk of disease. With increasing healthcare costs, nutraceuticals provide a more cost-effective alternative to pharmaceuticals, and impregnate customers with a greater sense of self-health with less risk of adverse side-effects.

Growth of the nutraceuticals market in GCC countries is driven by increasing trends in gyms and wellness centres, growing health concerns among individuals about lifestyle disorders, and growing millennial population in the country. Consumers are making necessary dietary changes to improve their health and are opting for tailor-made nutritional solutions that inspire market vendors to launch specialised food products.

In addition, increased policy emphasis on spreading health awareness is expected to further drive development in the GCC countries over the forecast period. However, emerging developments in this field, including the novel neem extract and purple corn, are sources with more antioxidants than others that contribute significantly during the forecast period. GCC countries like Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar are among the world’s richest countries with high per capita income. In addition, these countries have a high expat population which has high demand for nutraceuticals. The growth of the nutraceuticals market is expected to increase in GCC countries vis-à-vis other Middle-East and North African countries.

(The author is director,BlueWeave Consulting)
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