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Formulating for health in more ways than one.

This month we investigated two very large, almost contradictory topics, which are very important to the natural products industry. The first was the soy market in the U.S. and Europe, and the second was food allergies.

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While growth in the soy market has slowed in the U.S. over the last year, growth potential in Europe is huge. If taking the "glass is half full" approach to the market reaching maturity in the U.S., I would take comfort in knowing that growth will be more steady because it speaks to soy's staying power. Supportive clinical evidence on soy continues to come forth daily leading some experts to believe there could be a day when soy will straddle both the food and drug market. In fact, as we went to press, an article published in ScienceDaily discussed a new study under recruitment that seeks to establish a link between soy isoflavones and lower blood pressure. This study, to be conducted at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, MD, will examine the effect of soy isoflavones on hypertension in menopausal women. More specifically, co-investigator Dr. Addison Taylor and his colleagues are interested in the effect isoflavones have on the production of nitric oxide, a substance made by blood vessels that reduces the tendency of the blood to clot. Dr. Taylor believes there is no downside to soy. To be fair, however, there may be just one.

Over the last few years, it has become very apparent that certain ingredients in foods/beverages aren't for everyone. In a timely article titled "Eating with the Enemy" (page 56), associate editor Tim Wright discusses the particulars of a new regulation that will require companies to identify the top eight allergens--milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, wheat--on product labels starting January 2006. Food allergies have increased manifold over the last several years and the market for products that serve food allergy sufferers has doubled since 1999. Sustaining double-digit growth, the market for food allergy and intolerance products reached a grand total of nearly $2 billion in 2003, according to Packaged Facts, New York, NY, and it is on pace to double by 2008. This represents a great opportunity for natural products companies. It also speaks to the increasing transparency of the food industry. In being forthright with consumers about ingredients that could be harmful, the food industry will gain more confidence from consumers.

The fact is, consumers are increasingly purchasing products for one health reason or another, and food and supplement companies must be there to support those decisions. According to the latest consumer survey from the Grocery Manufacturers of America (GMA), Washington, D.C., 73% of primary grocery shoppers are buying more nutritious and healthy foods/beverages than in the past. More specifically, 68% of consumers are interested in products made with whole grains, 65% are looking for reduced- or low-fat products, nearly 60% are looking for products fortified with vitamins and minerals, 54% are seeking sugar-free product options and 42% are still riding the reduced- and low-carb wave.
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Author:Wright, Rebecca
Publication:Nutraceuticals World
Article Type:Editorial
Geographic Code:4E
Date:Apr 1, 2005
Words:519
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