Natural Antioxidants: Just a Health Fad or a Multibillion Dollar Industry?

Nov 06,2019

As consumers’ inquisitiveness about the food they consume and its impact on their body is increasing, food manufacturers are coming up with innovative food ingredients, touting their positive effects on health. The fact that free radicals have an oxidative effect on body is widely known among consumers, as is the inextricable relationship between natural food ingredients and health. Consequently, consumers are showing proclivity for food products with natural antioxidants without even validating the scientific evidence for their health benefits.

In 2018, natural antioxidants of worth US$ 1.6 billion were sold worldwide, and Future Market Insights’ recent research finds that the number is set to grow 2x in the next decade. However, the ambiguity over how strong will the trend grow persists at the same time. Though the combination of antioxidants and natural ingredients is expected to work out quite well, is there a chance that natural antioxidants would disappear from the market like other health fads such as aerated chocolates, oxygen shots, and placenta pills? Or would it prove profitable for food manufacturers to go where consumers are inclined right now?

Natural Antioxidants in Food Industry: Health Drives Innovation

Natural antioxidants are witnessing immense demand in the food & beverage industry as, statistically, it accounts for more than one-third share in the global sales. The food industry is replacing its artificial food ingredients with their natural alternatives to sate consumers’ belief about all natural and herbal ingredients are ‘healthy’, reflecting in a significant upsurge in sales of natural antioxidants.

Even though the safety limits of natural antioxidant are not known to many consumers, their perception about the healthiness of food products including natural antioxidant remains unaffected. In fact, the sales potential of natural antioxidants is improving significantly in the natural food preservatives landscape, as a result of growing consumption of processed food and consumers’ demand for healthy and ‘clean label’ food products.

Though, scientifically, natural antioxidants are hardly safer than synthetic antioxidants, consumers’ predilection for ‘all natural’ food products is fueling the sales of the former. Consequently, manufacturers are investing heavily in research & development (R&D) activities to discover innovative antioxidants sources from unique fruits & vegetables. With the incremental growth of the ‘native and natural food ingredients’ trend across the global food industry, food manufacturers are expected to boost R&D to introduce innovative sources, such as herbs & spices and microalgae, to extract natural antioxidants with unique health-benefitting qualities.

Some scientists and researchers are going beyond fruits & vegetables to find unlikely sources of natural antioxidants. A new study published in the European Journal of Wood and Wood Products, researchers from the IKFBU Institute of Living Systems have found that antioxidants derived from alder bark have anti-aging and anti-disease properties.

In the coming years, the potential for innovatively-sourced antioxidants is expected to improve in the food industry, especially in the bakery & confectionery markets.

Natural Antioxidants for Animal Feed: Hype or Hope?

While to food industry continues to be at the centre stage in the natural antioxidants market, stakeholders are also foraying in industries apart from food & beverage to expand sales even more. Especially in the animal feed additives market, the demand for natural antioxidants is expected to surge as stakeholders in the livestock sector are increasing focus on animal nutrition. This is expected to open new avenues of growth for natural antioxidants in the animal feed landscape, eventually intensifying the competition among market players.

In October 2019, Guilin Layn Natural Ingredients Corp. – a leading manufacturer of premium-quality, plant-based botanicals – announced that it has entered the animal nutrition landscape with the launch of its TruGro AOX portfolio of natural antioxidants. Layn further declared that its new line includes botanical extracts exhibit better antioxidation efficacy than other synthetic antioxidants, which can be replaced in animal feed, pet foods, and premixes with its TruGro AOX products.

In January 2019, a study published by the Penn State researchers found natural antioxidant in grain bran on studying a class of compounds called alkylresorcinols (AR). The researchers also found that, as ARs come from the bran layer of cereal plants, which are commonly used in animal feed, it can replace synthetic antioxidants in end products.

Such ongoing activities in the animal feed industry are likely to expand the potential for research and innovation in the field of natural antioxidants to a new extent. Thereby, animal nutrition is expected to emerge as one of the fastest-growing application of natural antioxidants, transforming the dynamics of the market.

Natural Antioxidants for Skin: New Opportunities in the Cosmetics Industry

The popularity of natural food ingredients is no longer confined to applications in the food & beverage industry; manufacturers are crossing the boundary by entering the cosmetics and personal care landscape. Consumer awareness about the benefits of natural antioxidants in skin care as well as health care is emerging as one of the newest driving engines for researchers to discover novel application areas in the organic cosmetics space.

The cosmetics and personal care industry is making a move towards replacing chemical-based ingredients with natural and functional ingredients, and players in the natural antioxidants market are jumping the bandwagon. For instance, in August 2019, a Singaporean start-up Innoso announced the launch of its beauty food manufactured using superoxide dismutase (SOD)-rich lemons, which has skin care properties such as skin whitening and brightening effects and anti-ageing benefits. The company also claims that, as SOD is considered among the primary antioxidants, its new product offers superior antioxidant effects than other products made of secondary antioxidants such as vitamin C and CoQ10.

Taking into consideration the current pace of developments in the use of natural antioxidants in various applications such as food & beverage, animal feed, and personal care, this ‘fad’ is expected to witness robust growth in the coming years. The global market for natural antioxidants poised to grow as a multibillion dollar landscape, as consumers’ perception about natural food ingredients being health-boosting is likely to remain unshaken in the coming years.

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