For most Asian countries, growth in the healthcare industry has been outstripping GDP growth, and some estimates are that spending on healthcare could surge by nine times the current rates in some countries in the region.
By 2030, some 500 million people, will be aged 60 or above in Asia. To tackle the economic ramifications of the issue, such as the rising costs of healthcare, governments across Asia are developing new strategies that address and promote healthy ageing.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), healthy ageing is “the process of developing and maintaining the functional ability that enables wellbeing in older age”.
Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), such as cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes are taxing the healthcare system. The incidence of NCDs and their associated requirements for long term care increase with age, which is compounded by increasing life expectancy, as the requirements for long term care is sustained over a higher number of years. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 70 per cent of deaths globally result from NCDs, particularly cancer and from issues related to obesity, such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
NCDs can be prevented through better health and nutrition. Academic studies in the United States (US) show that every $1.50 invested in preventative healthcare can save $7 in treatment cost.
As we age, our metabolism decreases and we require less energy, but our need for nutrients increases. Our societal thirst for fast food and satiety has resulted in a prevalence of fatty, salty and sweet foods, which have rapidly become part of our staple diet and yet do not deliver sufficient nutritional value. Better nutrition aids healthy ageing by improving nutrient deficiency.
Thus, governments are promoting the benefits of nutraceutical products such as fortified food, reformulated food and functional food that offer nutritional supplements and assist in treating or preventing disease (apart from anemia), to provide medical benefits.
Considered measures to tackle health problems through nutrition include programmes such as national nutrition plans in China; school lunch programmes in India that are interventions to prevent child malnutrition; or stipulating through regulation in Malaysia to restrict access to high-calorie products through food-zoning, which controls the type of food sold in certain areas and makes sure that calorie information is on display; or higher taxes on high-sugar and high-fat food; or even, to incentivize food in Singapore workers to persuade consumers to choose healthier food options.
Today, preventive measures and education offer a $294 billion in opportunity for the nutraceuticals industry in Asia.
Food fortification programmes are extremely cost-effective in addressing both over- and under- nutrition as they cost as little as $85 per disease. Temasek, referencing multiple sources, estimates that by 2030 in Asia, the markets for food fortification will be $180 billion.
Global food companies are removing sugar and artificial preservatives by reformulating products to be healthier. Local brands in China, South Korea, and Vietnam are reformulating products with locally sourced medicinal ingredients such as red ginseng and cooling herbs. The product reformulation market in Asia is estimated at $93 billion.
And the functional food market, or food that is fortified and enhanced to provide substantial health benefits, is estimated at $21 billion. Among other ingredients, they may contain probiotics, prebiotics, plant stanols, and vitamins such as B, D and minerals such as folic acid.
To enable Asians to explore nutraceuticals, the Vitafoods Asia 2019 Conference and Exhibition will be held in Singapore from 24-25 September 2019. The nutraceutical event for the Asia Pacific region, Vitafoods Asia informs and helps brand owners to select, manufacture and distribute products from the global nutraceuticals industry. Some 44 per cent of the more than 5,000 visitors that attended Vitafoods Asia in 2018 sought products for, and information on, healthy ageing.
Asia’s premier nutraceuticals event, Vitafoods Asia showcases evidence-based products that combat malnutrition, disease, and low immunity, along with the ill effects of obesity, smoking, alcohol consumption, stress, and a lack of exercise. The exhibition features functional beverages and food, dietary and health supplements, health food, natural and herbal medicines, and nutricosmetics that are beneficial to healthy aging. Over 350 international suppliers attend to provide innovative and high-quality nutraceutical ingredients, dietary supplements and services to buyers from Asia.
Exhibitors include digestive health sponsor, DuPont, Collagen Protein sponsor, Gelita, healthy ageing sponsor, DSM, Curcumin sponsor, Sabinsa, and GenCanna, the official Cannabidiol (CBD) sponsor for Vitafoods Asia 2019.
Vitafoods Asia connects suppliers to buyers, as well as service providers to brands, who can also access product development, regulatory and marketing entry advice at the show to learn how to penetrate new markets in Asia.