The pandemic has brought the topic of immune defence into sharp focus. Many consumers are increasingly turning to functional foods and dietary supplements that help support the body's own defences. We interviewed Maryanne Mburu Senior Key Account Manager, AstaReal to discover what challenges and innovation potential she foresees in the "Immune Health" segment.
1. How do you envisage the development of the immune health market? What role has the coronavirus crisis played in that?
In the past, sales of immune health products tended to peak during the traditional cold and flu season. But due to the pandemic, the nutraceuticals industry has been seeing increased and ongoing demand in this category, as consumers have been reflecting on their health. The demand for combined formulations with multiple benefits, and growing consumer awareness of the advantages of supplements that support the immune system, will further fuel the market.
2. What challenges does the market face?
There are more products with immune health claims entering the arena than ever before. So, the market is getting very competitive. At the same time, though, this presents an opportunity to stand out from the crowd with higher quality products offering special ingredients and innovative dosage forms. There is also the chance to tap into additional consumer needs such as plant-based and more sustainable products.
3. What’s the potential for innovation in the immune health segment?
Companies should differentiate their products by using unique ingredients and delivery formats. For instance, AstaReal® astaxanthin offers product developers a broad range of combination and dosage options. Whether in capsule, liquid shot, sachet or soft gum format, the possibilities for developing astaxanthin products for immune support are almost limitless. Plus, it can be combined with a broad range of other immune-enhancing ingredients, such as vitamin D or C, selenium, zinc, pro- and prebiotics or curcumin. In addition, microalgae-based astaxanthin aligns with the emerging plant-based immunity products trend.
4. Which immune-specific ingredients does your company offer?
AstaReal® natural astaxanthin provides immune health support and promotes a healthy inflammatory response. Astaxanthin is a naturally occurring carotenoid derived from the microalga Haematococcus pluvialis. With its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immune-modulating properties, natural astaxanthin has a strong ability to both balance and strengthen the immune system.
5. Is your ingredient supported by scientific studies?
AstaReal® natural astaxanthin is backed by over 60 human clinical studies, covering indications such as skin health, vision, muscle performance, cognitive function, heart health and immune health. An uncontrolled immune response allows chronic inflammation to build up in the body. Natural astaxanthin has been shown to help significantly decrease the expression of pro-inflammatory markers, thus providing potent anti-inflammatory protection. In addition, astaxanthin is able to enhance the capacity of lymphocytes – cells that allow the body to remember previous invaders and help destroy them. Furthermore, individuals receiving astaxanthin demonstrated activity of natural killer cells that are predominantly involved in innate immunity.