Singapore, 7 October 2014 – The global healthcare industry today is increasingly shaping up to be a patient-centric one, driven by factors such as disruption in the traditional industry value-chain as well as transformation of the healthcare systems.

This comes amidst a challenging time for the industry, which is facing challenges such as diminishing returns on healthcare spending, unviable disease management systems and chronic disease burdens across the major regions. In Asia Pacific alone, the number of chronic disease patients continues to rise rapidly. In Japan for instance, 27.7% of the population over 65 years old is expected to suffer from chronic disease by 2030, up from 19.8% in 2015.

A Proactive Healthcare Approach
Globally, pharma and healthcare expenditure is also expected to rise sharply across this decade, from 6.12 trillion in 2010 to 10.83 trillion in 2020, marking an increase of approximately 77%. The bulk of this expenditure is expected to go to e-health and preventive healthcare.

Ms Rhenu Bhuller, Senior Vice President, Healthcare Practice, Frost & Sullivan Asia Pacific said, “The healthcare system is undergoing a significant reform, with emphasis shifting from treatment to prevention, which in turn improving efficiency of diseases and care management.”
“The unsustainable hospital cost burden is also boosting the market for preventative healthcare solutions,” she added.

Technology-Driven Healthcare
Information technology is also transforming the healthcare system through convergence. The new platform for healthcare is automated, collaborative and focused on health and wellness as opposed to management of illness. One instance would be the prevalence of electronic health records as opposed to the traditional ones.

Greater consumer / patient engagement
There is also a necessity to redefine the stakeholder role in healthcare. Existing stakeholders include Families, Consumer App developers, Healthcare Providers, Payers, Employers and Drug Manufacturers.

Against a backdrop of greater consumerism in healthcare, aided by drivers such as education and a customer-centric focus, the relevant stakeholders have also adjusted their approach to better meet the needs of the consumer / patient. For instance, drug manufacturers have focused on building healthcare products to keep the population healthy and independent for a longer period of time.

Where do Nutraceuticals come in?
Besides the increasing number of consumers taking a proactive approach towards their health, the prevalence of chronic diseases (such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease) has also increased the demand for nutraceuticals. Nutraceuticals products can be used across a wide segment of the population, targeting various health conditions and is playing a large role in the ‘wellness’ movement, empowering consumers to manage their health proactively.

Let Food be Thy Medicine – Nutrition a key focus in disease management
Amidst the rising costs of healthcare, there is a shift from treatment to prevention via health and wellness achieved through proper nutrition and usage of nutraceuticals. Globally, the nutraceuticals market earned US $155 billion in revenue in 2013 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 7.0% to reach US $ 211 billion by 2018.

Nutraceuticals are products that provide nutrients through various formats including dietary supplements and functional beverages and fortified foods. The world is moving to condition based nutrition where nutraceuticals play a large role. Nutraceuticals are moving away from traditional formats to very focused products addressing specific conditions. This will help customers select the right nutraceutical product based on their demographics, health benefits and purpose.

According to Ms Krithika Tyagarajan, Senior Director, Chemicals, Materials and Food Practice, Frost & Sullivan Asia Pacific, it is important to understand consumer needs that tend to vary by region.

“It is important for nutraceutical companies to understand the consumer trends across regions before introducing a nutraceutical product. Education and promoting awareness to health benefits is crucial in developing countries,“ she said.

Growth Opportunities in Nutraceuticals
There are three key areas with immense growth opportunities for nutraceuticals, namely Heart Health, Children’s Nutrition and Ageing Nutrition.

Heart Health
Cardiovascular disease is acknowledged to be the most costly non-communicable disease globally in terms of medical spending and mortality, with over 12 million deaths annually across both developed and developing countries. Key reasons include increasing cholesterol, obesity, aging and smoking.

Heart Health concerns among consumers differs from region to region based on genetics, level of economic development and awareness. This translates into demand for nutraceutical products. APAC is the quickest growing Omega-3 product market with increased demand from the infant nutrition fortification sector.

The overall health ingredient market is growing at 15% year on year in APAC with demand being driven primarily by China. Most product development in Asia will be focused on Omega-3 in the foreseeable future. Popular food products from this genre include Beta-glucan oat beverages and Omega-3 infused water.

Children’s Nutrition
Children’s nutritional needs can vary drastically across regions. In developing countries, 43 million children under the age of five are obese or overweight whereas in Africa, 40% of children are chronically undernourished. Globally, 45% of child deaths are due to malnutrition, with 30% in APAC alone. With the unique needs of children’s nutrition, nutraceuticals have to balance their needs and wants against a background of changing demographics and decision makers.

Ageing Nutrition
According to Frost & Sullivan analysis, up to 3% of the GDP for most countries will be channeled towards ageing related costs by 2020 (excluding pensions, health and long term care). It is expected that 1.2 billion people will be over the age of 65 by 2020.

Baby boomers are expected to be the largest group expected to make up the bulk of the ageing population, with their nutraceutical interests to include heart health, weight management and digestive health. On the other end of the spectrum, the nutraceutical interests of the ageing population living in extreme poverty are focused on ethnic medicine, immune health and digestive health.

Finally, as consumer demands change across the world, the demand from nutraceuticals will become increasingly lifestyle-related and condition-specific. Although growth is expected be positive, there is a need for caution, according to Tyagarajan.

“Education and clear messaging to consumers will be a priority to avoid confusing the consumers in cases of too many products with little or no validation of their claims. Products that build loyalty have proven ingredients with clear benefits and positioning,” she added.

Future growth opportunities for nutraceuticals will depend on successfully addressing the key market needs in areas such as cultural awareness, product differentiation, competitive pricing and scientific validation.

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Melissa Tan
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Carrie Low
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