Booming enteral nutrition market offers ingredient opportunities

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Nutrition

Aging populations and a growing demand for homecare are driving
opportunities for the European enteral nutrition market, ranging
from functional foods to microencapsulation.

A new strategic analysis of the European Enteral Nutrition Market by Frost & Sullivan reports that the market was worth €795m (£536m) in 2005. This is anticipated to grow to €1,322m (£891m) by 2012, equivalent to a compound annual growth (CAGR) of 7.5 per cent for the sector.

"Aging demographics together with rising demand for community care services are among the key factors driving the growth of the European enteral nutrition market,"​ said Arthi V., research analysts for Frost & Sullivan.

Enteral nutrition refers to the delivery of macro- and micronutrients to the gastrointestinal tract of people who are unable to tolerate oral food, such as people with cancer patients or people with kidney problems.

Two types of enteral nutrition formulae exist - the polymeric formulae that contain partially digested ingredients, and the monomeric formulae that contain pre-digested ingredients.

Although less than five per cent of the whole British population is affected by malnutrition (defined as a deficiency, excess or imbalance of nutrients that causes adverse effects on wellbeing and body function), the figure rockets to 40 per cent for over 65s in care homes, and 60 per cent for the elderly in hospital, said a survey published today by the charity Age Concern.

The toll of malnutrition on health costs in the UK is estimated to exceed £7.3bn per year - much more than obesity, according to the British Association for Patenteral and Enteral Nutrition.

According to the United Nations 21 per cent of the European population was over 60 at the start of the new millennium, and it is estimated to hit 35.6 per cent by 2050.

Such increases in the age of the population, and the increased demand for homecare, reported to increasing by 6 per cent every year (Community Care Statistics, 2005), are driving demand and opportunities for enteral nutrition, says Frost & Sulilvan.

The main opportunities in this market, Arthi V. told​, include tapping into the growing public awareness of functional ingredients, particularly omega-3, amino acid dimers, fructo oligosaccharides (FOS), probiotics, prebiotics, soy fiber, and polyphenols.

These ingredients, said Ms. Arthi, are backed up by many research studies confirms the potential health benefits of these ingredients in various disease conditions.

The market is currently dominated by the likes of Royal Numico NV, Abbott Laboratories, Novartis, Fresenius Kabi, and Nestlé, and several Asian companies, such as Kyowa Hakko and Ajinomoto, are also active manufacturing ingredients for the market.

"Owing to the favourable production scenario the enteral nutrition manufacturers avail higher cost benefit from Asian manufacturers,"​ said Ms. Arthi.

The opportunities are not limited to the ingredients suppliers, said the report, but also for companies involved in the formulation and delivery of the bioactive ingredients.

"Technological advancements such as microencapsulation have increased opportunities fpr ingredient suppliers to deliver ingredients that were earlier considered difficult to use in enteral formulas,"​ wrote Ms. Arthi in the Frost & Sullivan report.

Some challenges do exist for this market, notes the analysis, particularly in terms of the reimbursement regulations in member states. Germany, for example, recently introduced legislation that restricts the number of conditions and diseases that qualify for reimbursement for enteral nutrition.

"While strict reimbursement regulations restrain hospital sales in the short term they are likely to create viable business opportunities in the community segment over the long term,"​ said Ms. Arthi.

"Strategies such as partnering with established homecare providers or providing homecare services independently will allow companies to benefit from the growth of homecare market."

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