Increased awareness of their benefits and improved technology is driving the growth of mineral sales.
Essential for a variety of bodily functions, minerals are experiencing good and consistent growth, said Max R. Motyka, MS, RPh, consultant to Utah-based Albion (previously director of the human product division for 23 years). He noted the compound annual growth rates reported by multiple sources states the market to be 7.3 percent for 2014-2020. Pharma sales are projected to be the leading segment for the mineral market by 2020. The U.S. is the largest mineral market, followed by Asia Pacific, and the E.U. Asia Pacific is the fastest growing market for minerals.
“The mineral salt ingredient market has been gradually expanding over the past years in terms of demand and varieties,” said Tony Xue, general manager of GWI China office (U.S. offices are in California). “With calcium being the most dominant mineral product, magnesium, iron, and zinc are also widely consumed by many industries.”
Xue noted that according to the U.S. export and import statistics, some of the main mineral ingredients products are calcium carbonate, calcium citrate, magnesium citrate and gluconates. Calcium carbonate dominated the mineral product category with an approximate 9,500 MT total import and port distribution in 2013.
With its low price, high calcium content, and easiness for absorption, calcium carbonate is still the leading product in mineral ingredients in terms of volume, said Xue. Based on the U.S. export and import data, its total import number has been increasing from 7,711 MT in 2011, to 9,254 MT in 2012, to approximately 9,500 MT in 2013. The figure for gluconates has also been climbing from 1,272 MT in 2011 to more than 1,500 MT in 2013.
The top three minerals, in terms of sales, according to Motyka, continue to be calcium, magnesium and zinc. However, magnesium has been the category growth leader now for several years. “The feeling is that the changes are based on an increase in awareness, when it comes to the intake shortcomings that are most important and prevalent. It is being driven by emphasis being given to the end users, in categories including pregnant women, increased aging population, infant health and lifestyle. This is true for the supplement market, in general.”
Motyka stated that new findings in regard to zinc could make this trace mineral the “new magnesium.” “Of course, being a trace mineral, it won’t hit the gross numbers of calcium or magnesium, but it will be important. It has been popular as an ingredient in supplements aimed at the immune system and men’s health. Now its importance to cognitive function is receiving emphasis. The growth rate of the aging population in the U.S. and globally should drive the growth of the zinc supplement market. Zinc deficiency has become a pandemic in developed and developing nations according to known experts. As many as 40 percent of elderly Americans and two billion people globally have diets deficient in zinc. Its deficiency leads to neurodegeneration and a decline in cognitive function.”
Like other nutritional ingredients, said Xue, the current trend is that consumers are looking for natural and organic products. However, many natural mineral products have not yet able to meet consumers’ satisfaction. “Formulators have various factors to consider as consumers are not just looking into health results, but also the tastes, doses, and the easiness to be absorb. Thus, some synthetic mineral products have earned customers’ favor with their balance in all factors.”
Another future trend lies in amino acid minerals, which will gradually replace certain natural mineral products, Xue added. “However, due to the high cost of those amino acid minerals, calcium citrate and gluconates products still have the highest price-performance ratio with the advantages in terms of quality, absorption and dissolving. We predict that those products will be leading the mineral market in the coming years.”
Innovation in the area of new delivery systems has been seen in the supplement market, just as seen in the overall supplement market. For minerals, there has been more marketing of forms like soft chews, liquids, shots, melts and effervescents, Motyka noted.
Motyka acknowledged that the implications that calcium supplementation has a negative effect on cardiovascular health have had a negative impact on this market, as seen in industry reports of calcium sales declining in recent years. In addition, the taste of mineral products has also been an issue, particularly for iron, potassium and zinc. “Not with regular tablets and capsules, but with the emergence of the alternate dosage forms,” he said. “This problem is lessened with improvement seen in taste-masking techniques and flavoring science. Certain minerals have been known to cause various forms of gastric distress (acid rebound, stomach upsets, nausea, diarrhea and constipation). These problems are more prevalent with the form of the particular mineral associated with the GI (gastrointestinal) problems. Organic mineral forms are seen to have less problems in these areas. Mineral amino acid chelates have been shown to be a better choice for avoidance of gastric distress.”
Xue noted that some of the negative news reports have been focusing on the difficulty of certain products to be absorbed by the human body. “Gluconate products can be great alternatives to traditional carbonates, and will gradually be embraced by more consumers. With updated technologies and more synthetic innovative products available in the market, we are expecting to observe increasing customer satisfaction in the next few years,” he said.
“Another hurdle our clients have been looking into is the heavy metal and microorganism contaminants of mineral ingredients products,” Xue added. “Thus, we believe that quality is of vital concern to suppliers and manufacturers. For our manufacturer partners, we examine their quality control procedures and the solutions/add-on service they offer. GWI possesses a vast connection network by working with more than 100 of the leading, world-class manufacturers to provide the best quality ingredients. The supplier should have a long-term business operation experience with a minimum of three years. It is important to examine their reputation in terms of quality and reliability. When any issue occurs, they can be resolved by effective communications promptly.”
He stressed GWI’s established quality control system offered in six steps: manufacturer qualification; testing program; pre-shipment inspection; third-party lab testing program; manufacturer origin trace system; and customized shipping.
As for the future of mineral research, “Of course, we are all interested in new positive findings for all minerals,” Motyka concluded. “However, new research in the areas of cognitive function, metabolic syndrome, sports performance, and infant development are of great interest.” NIE
For More Information:
Albion, (801) 773-4631; (800) 453-2406 U.S. & Canada
GWI, (877) 550-3600