Brain health the ‘new frontier’ for functional food and drink, Canadean

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 9th July 2014
Brain health the ‘new frontier’ for functional food and drink, Canadean
Brain health the ‘new frontier’ for functional food and drink, Canadean

Cognitive health is set to become a key area for functional food and drinks to target, according to global market research organisation Canadean.

Research has shown that the number of people globally who are affected by dementia will triple within 40 years, according to Canadean. Dementia is currently not wholly preventable. However, a growing body of evidence suggests risk can be greatly reduced.

Ageing population set to boom the cognitive health market

With rapidly ageing populations the number of consumers suffering from cognitive issues such as dementia and Alzheimer’s will rapidly increase, according to Canadean. In the EU alone, for instance, there will be over 19 million more consumers aged 65 and over in 2025 than there were in 2014.

Cognitive health needs to make jump from performance boosts to prevention

Canadean said the cognitive health market was currently dominated by short-term performance boosts, but these were far from the idea of tackling mental decline. Making the jump to the prevention of diseases such as dementia would be extremely challenging despite the attractiveness of the market, according to Canadean.

The science of dementia is immature – there is no cure, the risk factors are known but poorly understood, and the clinical evidence to support health claims approval is at best limited.

Even so, products such as Brainwave in the UK are already starting to target older consumers’ cognitive health, according to Canadean. Brainwave features green tea extracts, L-Theanine, and vitamins — ingredients that the manufacturer claims can help to keep the mind healthy and reduce the chances of developing Alzheimer’s or dementia later in life.

Marketers need to find a way to encourage regular consumption

However, few consumers are currently aware of the possibilities of preventative cognitive health, according to Canadean. Even among consumers who are aware, Canadean suggested that manufacturers would find it difficult to convince consumers to adopt regular, frequent consumption of preventative cognitive health products.

According to Canadean, known risk factors such as obesity, heart health, and cerebro-vascular health are easier to target, with functional products taking aim at older consumers’ physical and mental well-being.

“Ageing populations mean the market for preventative cognitive health products will grow,” said Ronan Stafford, Senior Analyst at Canadean. “However, marketers first need to find a way to target a need most consumers prefer not to talk about,” he said.