Innovations for the change: how brands and suppliers can meet new market demands in a pandemic
This year’s global pandemic has left many people concerned and worried about the possible consequences of this new disease, covid-19. Without a scientifically proven, effective vaccine that can become universally available in the very near future, we had to change our way of living and adapt to a series of “new normals” such as social distancing, emphasis on personal hygiene and finding many ways of safeguarding ourselves against potential infections. All these have caused a shift in consumer demands for nutraceutical products.
Where change brings about disruptions, it too brings about opportunities. Nutraceutical brands and suppliers alike must therefore improvise and quickly adapt themselves to such changing patterns in the nutraceutical market, and innovation could be the key in materializing many new businesses.
Our lungs and immune system might need more attention
According to COVID-19 data as of August 2020, the worldwide death rate was about 0.03% (Source: Google) – at first sight, the virus may seem less deadly. However, the long-term impact on human health should not be underestimated. The total number of published scientific reports on COVID-19 has exceeded 1,250,000, among which 270,000 are related to lung health. On average, there are roughly 1,000 new research articles related to lung health being published every day since December 2019.
A study from Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University indicated that 90% of the recovered patients experienced lung damage, which might have caused the patients’ lungs to under-perform. According to the report, the recovered patients (n=100, average age= 59) walked 100 meters less compared to their healthy peers in a 6 minutes’ time frame. This clearly illustrates the adverse effects on how efficiently they can breathe in oxygen to support their physical activities.
The most important layer of defense against such infection is no doubt our body’s immune system. Sales of supplements for immune support has increased drastically across the world. In the US, the market size for immune health supplements grew by 51.2% compared to a year ago (Source: Kenko-media.com). At the same time, consumers are also increasingly looking for more natural ingredients almost for all categories of health claims. To address such demands,Avida Health has developed a series of natural ingredients and products targeted at immune health – including Mushroom Guard™, a proprietary blend of six types of medicinal mushrooms with synergistic immune-modulatory effects, and ImmuSperse™, a high content (90%) water-soluble beta-glucan from baker’s yeast that is suitable for various water-based applications including functional beverages.
More specifically for lung health, Avida Health is currently developing a functional beverage using clinically-proven ingredients based on natural fruits to target consumers who are concerned about lung health, either due to the ongoing pandemic or long-term exposure to air pollution. This product is slated to launch in Q3 this year and will be available for private labeling.
Stay in shape while staying indoors
A survey in Italy indicated that the 48.6% of the population experienced weight gain during the COVID-19 lockdown, due to the change in eating habits, more sedentary lifestyle and minal outdoor activities. Being overweight is closely related to many chronic health conditions such as hyperglycemia, hypertension, and abnormal blood lipid profile – collectively named as metabolic syndrome. A recent has even pointed out that COVID-19 patients with BMI values over 30 have a higher mortality rate (Tamara, A. & Tahapary, D. L.).
The common reasons for weight gain include excessive calorie intake and low metabolic rates – which became more difficult to avoid during a lockdown, but there are still different ways to combat weight issues. Obesity can be prevented with healthy diet combined with an active lifestyle, and the right nutraceutical ingredients can also help with weight management.
There are natural ingredients in the market like green coffee extract, white kidney bean extract, sunflower seed extract which have been clinically proven to help with weight management, either by reducing fat assimilation or blocking digestion of carbohydrates, and they are proven safe to consume Avida Health has also developed L’activo™, a proprietary blend based on Mediterranean plants and fruits, which contains active compounds that are scientifically proven to demonstrate high antioxidant capacity and can enhance fat metabolism.
Brighter eyes for a brighter future
Under the new normal of Covid-19 pandemic, the usage of visual display terminals (VDT) devices such as computers, smartphones, and tablets has become essential for our work, studies and social interaction. Prolonged usage of VDT causes eye muscles to experience tension and fatigue, making focal adjustments difficult. Lutein and zeaxanthin are common carotenoids for blue light defense and eye protection. Daily consumption of bilberry extract and natural astaxanthin can also help relieve eye fatigue caused by prolonged usage of digital devices, according to studies from Japan. Blackcurrant extract has always been marketed as a functional and nutraceutical food due to its health-promoting properties due to blackcurrant’s unique anthocyanin profile. Among different types of anthocyanins, cyanidin-3-glucoside (C3G) has been scientifically proven to improve visual acuity under low light intensity. Fortified with 6 different types of fruit and plant extracts (including black currant), Avida Health’s AnthoC3™ is a proprietary blend that provides 20% total anthocyanins and a standardized C3G level of 10%, a first in the market. It could prove to be an interesting new ingredient in the eye health market.
Worry less, sleep more
During the Covid-19 pandemic, limited physical activity， restricted social interactions, long duration of blue light exposure and the uncertainty of our economy can cause many people to experience high levels of stress and suffer from insomnia. Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), is a popular ingredient for stress management and sleep quality improvement. In Japan, GABA have been widely used in multiple food and beverage products such as GABA chocolate and GABA coffee for stress management. Various herbal extracts, such as rafuma, lavender and chamomile, also claim to help improve sleep and manage stress.
To help address this problem, Avida Health is currently developing a proprietary sleep-enhancing formula that aims to exploit the synergistic effects of multiple active ingredients in a science-backed manner.
Eat well and green during a pandemic
Having limited physical and social activities can result in decreased appetite, which can in turn lead to insufficient calorie intake and unbalanced diet. Over time, it could have a negative impact on our bone and muscle health as well as metabolism.
The Institute of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) recommends a total of 30g fiber intake per day for men and 21g for women. According to dietary reference intake recommendation, 56g of lean protein is needed for average man, 46g for average sedentary women.
There is a rising popularity for plant-based diets and products in recent years. There are multiple health and socioeconomical benefits of moving to are more plant-oriented diet. However, protein deficientcy has remained a potential problem for some vegetarians. It is therefore important for the nutraceutical as well as the food industry to innovate on further plant-based protein products that can help address this issue. Avida Health has developed Vidaprotein™, a plant-based protein powder blend that combines plant-based proteins from pumpkin seeds and chia seeds, among others. It contains at least 70% of protein and provides the complete essential amino acid profile, dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals to support the daily requirements for our body to maintain health. Based on Vidaprotein™, a series of instant protein drink products, coupled with additional ingredients for immune health and detoxification, have also been developed for private labeling.
Supplement trends in 2020 and beyond
As a result of the pandemic, consumers have become widely aware of the importance of immune health and are taking proactive approach to boost their immunity with nutraceutical products. The top-selling supplements on Amazon are very consistent in Singapore, Japan, and China markets. Consumers are focusing more on supplements with immunity claims which includes Vitamin C, Vitamin D, probiotics, echinacea, and elderberry.
At the same time, other COVID-19-related trends, such as weight management, eye health, stress relief and plant-based proteins will continue to remain highly relevant.
New options and unique innovations are needed more than ever to capture these increased demands.