The European market potential for moringa
Dried Moringa oleifera powder is mainly used in food supplements in the European health products sector. Demand for such products is forecast to grow in the coming years. The main drivers are growing demand for immune-boosting food supplements, plant-based protein, natural energy products and weight management. Health product companies are looking for natural ingredients that give active and functional properties to their products, whilst consumers are looking for natural alternatives to synthetic products.
Contents of this page
1. Product description
Moringa (Moringa oleifera) grows in tropical regions of Africa, Asia, the Pacific and Caribbean Islands, and South America. India, South Africa, Ghana, Mozambique, Kenya and Zambia have an established commercial moringa production industry. It is estimated that India accounts for around 80 percent of the global moringa supply. Moringa oleifera commercial production is the most developed.
Products from the moringa tree have multiple health, food and cosmetic uses in Europe:
- Health products: food supplements are the main market for moringa (leaf powder)
- Food: as a herbal tea (dried leaves)
- Cosmetics: the main market is for moringa seed oil, known as Behen or Ben oil
This study focuses on dried Moringa oleifera (moringa) leaf powder and its use in health products. Moringa oleifera leaves, leaf powder and pods (which contain the seeds) are the only moringa products that are authorised on the European market.
The main moringa ingredient in European health products is moringa leaf powder, either in the form of a powder or capsules. European legislation prohibits the use of moringa in herbal medicinal products and the use of moringa seed oil in food supplements, and so this study does not cover those applications of moringa.
Moringa extracts and moringa seed oil for food (supplement) use are considered novel foods. Companies need to apply for Novel Food status before these can be sold as food supplements in Europe.
According to several studies in the Examine database, moringa leaves are high in:
- Vitamins: A, B, C and E
- Minerals: iron, calcium, selenium, phosphorus and potassium
- Essential fatty acids: omega-3 and omega-6
The typical composition of moringa fresh leaves as well as dry and powdered moringa is shown in the table below. The exact composition may vary slightly between moringa producers according to one EU buyer, and it depends on the variety that is used and the soil. You can also check the product specification sheets available online, such as this example from Vehgro for organic moringa powder.
Table 1: Typical nutrient composition of fresh and dry moringa leaves and leaf powder (per 100grams of plant material)
Source: Science Direct
Due to its composition, moringa is commonly marketed in the EU as supporting immune health, improving general health and increasing energy levels. In addition, moringa is marketed for various other uses. These include weight management, improving digestion and helping to support normal sugar levels of the body. Moringa is also increasingly used as a plant-based protein source in vegan and vegetation products. See figure 1 below for examples of products available on the European market which contain moringa.
Figure 1: European food supplements containing Moringa oleifera leaf powder
Research on the composition of moringa has shown that the species provides “7 times more vitamin C than oranges, 10 times more vitamin A than carrots, 17 times more calcium than milk, 9 times more protein than yoghurt, 15 times more potassium than bananas, and 25 times more iron than spinach”. This and similar claims are very commonly used in European marketing. Other examples include:
- Moringa powder is made from naturally dried moringa leaves, is a rich source of plant protein (25%) and fibre (24%) and is a source of 5 essential vitamins and minerals including iron, calcium and vitamins A, E and K.
- Spice up your life energy every day with our Moringa leaf selection. Moringa is now being recognised as a superfood/leafy vegetable in Europe and around the world. It's the most powerful superfood of all time.
Moringa’s high nutrient content, the associated health properties, and its high level of antioxidant activities are its main selling points. In Europe, these attributes mean that it is marketed as a ‘superfood’. The term ‘superfood’ is a marketing term and considered an unauthorised health claim in Europe. However, European companies still use the term by making it part of their brand name.
Table 2: Health benefits for nutrients in Moringa oleifera leaf powders, based on the EU Register of Health Claims, which relates to the claims regarding individual nutrients that are permitted.
|Beneficial Health Properties
|Contributes to the maintenance of normal skin, vision and functioning of the immune system
|Contributes to the normal functioning of the immune system, and to normal energy-yielding metabolism
|Contributes to normal muscle function and blood-clotting, and is needed for the maintenance of normal bones and teeth
|Contributes to the normal functioning of the nervous system and the maintenance of normal blood pressure
|Contributes to normal cognitive function, normal energy-yielding metabolism, the normal formation of red blood cells and haemoglobin, and reduces tiredness and fatigue
|Contributes to the growth of muscle mass, the maintenance of muscle mass and the maintenance of normal bones
Source: EU Register of Health Claims
The drying process is an important step in moringa leaf powder production. Moringa leaves need to be dried immediately upon harvesting. This enables the leaves to retain their nutrient content. Transportation of loose dried leaves is not common; European importers source dried powder processed from the countries of origin.
Moringa powder does not have its own Harmonised System Code, which are used to track the trade in specific products. It is traded under the HS Code 07129090 for other dried vegetables and mixtures of vegetables. It can be also traded under the HS Code 1219086 for other medical plants and parts of plants.
- Find out the nutritional profile of your moringa. Work with a local university or laboratory to test it. The results must be included in your product documentation.
- Find credible literature sources on the potential health benefits of moringa. Use these references in your product documentation and marketing materials.
- See the CBI study on buyer requirements for natural ingredients for health products for more information on Novel Food regulation.
- See the CBI studies on baobab oil and Southern African vegetable oils for cosmetics for an indication of opportunities in the market for moringa seed oil. These vegetable oils have similar applications in cosmetics as moringa oil.
2. What makes Europe an interesting market for moringa?
Europe is an attractive market for moringa suppliers in developing countries. There is high demand for high-quality nutritional supplements, providing an opportunity for moringa suppliers in developing countries. There is increasing demand for natural ingredients and a growing vegan a nd vegetarian population in Europe. Growing consumer awareness of the health properties of moringa is also generating demand for moringa. The COVID-19 pandemic has boosted demand for immune-boosting supplements and natural products. This trend is expected to continue in the future.
The European market for moringa remains immature. Only a relatively small number of European consumers are aware of moringa, and most consumers still need to be educated on the benefits before they would consider buying it.
Despite relatively low consumer awareness of moringa, market researchers predict that demand will grow. Global demand for moringa ingredients was estimated at US$5.8 billion in 2018 and predicted to grow by 8.9% between 2019-2025. Of the total global market of up to US$10 billion in 2025, the European market is predicted to be US$2 billion.
Moringa has a potential to benefit from developments in the European market for health products. Demand for food supplements continues to grow, especially in immunity boosting products where moringa is also marketed.
In 2020, the European market for food supplements was valued at US$15 billion. The food supplements market in Europe is projected to grow by 5.5% annually between 2022 and 2027. Food Supplements Europe states that over half of European consumers currently take supplements to maintain their overall health.
The European market for immune health supplements is driven by growing health-consciousness among consumers and boosted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Different sources have estimated this market at US$11.8 billion (€11 billion) in 2020 and it is projected to grow by 6.2% annually between 2021 and 2026.
Within the market for immunity products, botanicals are increasingly important in new food and beverage products. Popular plants include ginger, turmeric, cinnamon and lemon grass. Market researcher Fortune Business Insights predicts that the demand for plant-based ingredients, such as immune boosting botanicals, will grow considerably.
Moringa is also a source of plant-based protein. Although sources differ on the future size of Europe’s plant-protein market, they agree that it is expanding fast. The market is predicted to grow at over 6% annually from 2021-2026, reaching somewhere between €2.6 billion in 2024 and US$3.8 billion in 2026.
European consumers are looking at ways to reduce meat intake. According to the European Union agricultural outlook for 2018-2030 report, the per capita amount of meat eaten by Europeans is expected to fall from 69.3kg in 2018 to 68.6kg in 2030. The main reason behind this trend is the rise in vegetarianism and veganism in Europe.
This could present an opportunity for suppliers of moringa in developing countries. Health conscious consumers are switching to plant-based protein, as vegan and vegetarian lifestyle become more popular.
There is no significant moringa production in Europe. All demand needs to be met through imports. The trade in moringa is not recorded separately, but included in the trade in dried vegetables or medical plants. Figures 2 and 3 show the imports of ingredients with HS Codes 07129090 and HS Codes 12119089, the categories under which moringa is usually traded. However, these figures also include other products.
For both product groups in figures 2 and 3, imports from developing countries are large and growing. European imports of other dried vegetables increased by 4% annually from 2017 to 2021, reaching 129,000 tonnes in 2021. Of that, 48% originated in developing countries. The main importers in 2021 were Germany and the Netherlands, followed by France and the UK. Together, these countries accounted for 59% of total imports, and 62% of imports from developing countries.
Developing countries supplied 54% of Europe’s imports of other medicinal plants, reaching 119,000 tonnes in 2021. Germany is the main importer of other medicinal plants, in terms of both total imports and imports from developing countries. The country accounted for a third of imports of other medicinal plants.
According to industry sources, it is estimated that the volume of moringa leaf powder imported to Europe is around 130-160 tonnes. The demand for moringa ingredients has been increasing in the last few years, as more consumers have become aware of its benefits and the number of product launches of moringa products has risen.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also impacted the supply of moringa to the European market, especially from India. As India accounts for the majority of the global production, its lockdown led moringa production to close in March and April 2020, thus disrupting supply chains. This could persuade European buyers to substitute moringa with alternative ingredients, especially those sourced more locally.
- Educate potential buyers on the uses of moringa to help them promote moringa effectively and build interest in moringa in the European market. Demonstrate the traditional uses of moringa powder in your country. Provide samples of moringa-based products to show in what type of final products moringa is used. For example, check the website of Moringa Initiative (Zambia), which sells both bulk moringa and finished products based on moringa for regional markets. They include information on the benefits of moringa as well as recipes that use moringa.
- See the CBI study on demand for natural ingredients for health products for more information on the European market.
3. Which European countries offer most opportunities for moringa?
The most prospective countries for moringa are the Western European countries. These include Germany, the UK, France, the Netherlands, Italy and Spain. These countries have the biggest food supplements markets, as well as relatively high awareness of moringa. Traders and suppliers of moringa products are also located in these countries.
Figure 4 below gives an overview of 2021 import volume for the six European countries that import the most moringa in the two HS codes that moringa is traded under: 07129090 and 12119086. Please note that other products are also included in these figures.
In addition to these leading importers, Poland is another interesting market for these two product groups, with more imports of moringa than Italy. However, the Italian food supplement market is expected to offer more opportunities for moringa as it is much larger, more diversified and more developed. Nevertheless, since the Polish food supplement market has been growing strongly in recent years, it may become a more interesting market for moringa suppliers in the future.
Germany: the largest EU market for moringa and key importer
Based on industry feedback, it is estimated that around 50-60 tonnes of moringa leaf powder is exported to Germany annually. Some of the main importers of moringa are Africrops, AB Im- und Export A Beringer & Co., BioSim and Proflora.
Germany also has one of the largest markets for food supplements in Europe, worth around US$2.1 billion (€1.97 billion) in 2021. Growth was predicted to be 6% between 2020 and 2024. Around 85% of these supplements are sold at pharmacies. Sales of food supplements sold at pharmacies have been growing strongly in recent years, with annual growth of around 5% between 2017 and 2020. German demand for health products and supplements is expected to continue increasing in the years to come.
Herbal products are considered to make up a significant share of food supplements. Industry sources indicate that even before the COVID pandemic, consumers were increasingly interested in herbal supplements. Over 60% of German consumers believe that botanicals have medicinal properties and herbal medicinal products make up a large part of the German pharmaceutical market, especially in relation to self-medication.
As a source of plant-based protein, moringa could benefit from the growing interest in plant-based foods in Germany. Between 2018 and 2020, German sales of plant-based products nearly doubled, reaching US$835 million in 2020. German consumers are eating less meat, and vegan and vegetarian lifestyles are gaining popularity.
There is also a growing demand for organic moringa on the German market. The German organic food market is the largest in Europe. To illustrate, in 2020 the organic food market reached €14.99 billion in Germany, an increase of 22.3% compared to 2019. According to traders, Germany is one of the largest importers of organic moringa.
You should target German buyers of moringa, as the country is the main European market for moringa. German consumers have a high level of health consciousness. Moringa can benefit from the growing popularity of plant-based products and immunity health products.
United Kingdom: room for growth in moringa among supplements for immunity and general health
Based on industry feedback, it is estimated that around 20-30 tonnes of moringa leaf powder is imported to the UK annually. Leading traders of moringa in the UK include Top Line Foods, Organic Herb Trading Co, Nutra Ingredients, Minvita (brand of Orient Solutions Ltd) and Aduna.
In 2020, the UK food supplements market reached £494 million (around €578.8 million) according to Mintel. This number includes sales of vitamins, minerals and other food supplements. The market researcher predicted that the market would reach £515 million in 2021 (€603 million) and £559 million (€655 million) by 2025. This represents an average annual increase of 2%.
Immune health has become a priority for UK consumers, with 36% of users consuming food supplements to strengthen their immune system. Food supplements aimed at general health also make up a particularly large share of the market in the UK. Moringa, with its high nutrient content, could be used for both applications.
Consumers value supplements with organic ingredients because they are seen as healthier than conventional ingredients. However, Mintel reports that only limited new products entered the UK market with organic claims in 2020.
There is a growing preference for vegan and vegetarian products in the UK. In 2022, 7.2 million UK consumers were following a meat-free diet, 14% of the total population. According to Mintel, the UK had the highest number of new vegan food product launches in the world in 2018. These trends are leading to increasing demand for plant-based protein in the UK.
These market developments mean that there are opportunities for moringa suppliers on the UK market. At the same time, Brexit (Britain’s exit from the EU) has caused disruption to supply chains. This may bring challenges to exporters of natural ingredients for health products from developing countries. Re-negotiating and entering new trade deals with developing countries is likely to take time. Regularly visit and check the BBC News website to keep up to date with the latest Brexit developments.
France: organic food supplements becoming more popular
It is estimated that around 15-20 tonnes of moringa leaf powder are imported to France annually. According to industry sources, French consumers are becoming more aware of moringa products. Suppliers of moringa in developing countries should take advantage of this opportunity and target French buyers. It is expected that demand for moringa will increase further in the coming years. Important market players include Moringa & Co, LT Labo and Nature & Partage.
A growing market for food supplements is creating opportunities for moringa as well. The French food supplement market reached €2.31 billion in 2021, an increase of 6.3% compared to 2020, and the market is expected to continue growing in the coming years. Synadiet, the French association for food supplements, records sales data for food supplements per distribution channel. Around half of food supplements were sold in pharmacies in 2021, while online sales grew by 16% from 2020 to 2021.
In France, the three categories that account for the most food supplement sales are Vitality & Immunity, Sleep & Stress and Digestion & Transit. The category Vitality & Immunity was the largest category of products sold in pharmacies in 2021 and also saw the strongest growth from 2020 to 2021, at 13%.
Sales of organic food supplements increased at a higher rate than sales of conventional food supplements. For products sold in pharmacies and health and beauty shops, this was an increase of 15%, compared to 6-9% for conventional supplements in the same channels. Total sales of organic food supplements in 2021 amounted to €86 million in pharmacies and €1.8 million in health and beauty shops.
The Netherlands: key trade hub for various botanicals
The Netherlands is a leading importer as well as a key re-exporter of various natural ingredients to Europe. Most moringa imported into the Netherlands gets re-exported to other European countries. Imports of moringa into the Netherlands are low compared to countries such as Germany and the UK. Consumption of moringa was estimated at only 5 tonnes in 2018. Important market players include Z Company, Moringa's Finest, Yamba Health and Kraatje.
The Dutch food supplements market is growing. The Dutch food supplement association, NPN, estimates that the market reached €693 million in 2020, an increase of 3.4% compared to the year before. The demand for supplements is expected to continue to grow. Although the COVID-19 pandemic boosted the demand for supplements, the Dutch market had been growing before that as well. Consumers mainly use supplements to strengthen their immune function, which moringa is also marketed for.
Italy: largest food supplement market in Europe
The Italian market for moringa products is still in a nascent stage of development. It is expected that demand for moringa will increase in the future, as consumer awareness rises. Growing consumer awareness of health and wellness products is likely to be the major driver. Important Italian market players include Bioaltech, Red Moringa and Favella Group. Italian traders tend to source moringa from intra-EU trade from countries such as Germany and the Netherlands. The Red Moringa company sources moringa that is cultivated in Spain.
The size of Italy’s food supplement market and the growth it is experiencing could also create opportunities for moringa. Italy has by far the largest food supplement market in Europe. This market was valued at €3.8 billion in 2020 and it grew on average by 8.2% per year between 2014 and 2020. In 2020, which was a difficult year for the Italian retail sector due to extensive lockdowns, the food supplement market still increased by 2.8%. Around 80% of food supplement sales are made by pharmacies.
Data from 2019 on the use of food supplements that contain an active component of plant origin values this market segment at €469 million. At the time, this segment did experience a slight decline (-2.2%) but it still accounted for 16% of the total Italian food supplement market.
Data from Ipsos market research indicates that Italian consumers use food supplements to feel fitter (87%), and because they feel the need to take care of their body (84%). Moringa’s nutritional composition mean that it could be suitable for these uses as well. Important product groups are vitamins and minerals, digestive health products and probiotics.
Spain: a smaller market, but with the potential for growth
Spain has a prospective market for moringa suppliers in developing countries. The demand for high quality and organic products is increasing. Although the awareness of moringa is still relatively low in Spain, it is expected that demand will increase in the future as more market players enter the market. Important market players include Robis.
There is also domestic production of moringa, for example in Tenerife by the company NaturaLeaf. However, this does not represent a threat to suppliers of moringa in developing countries. The Spanish production is not sufficient to meet demand in Europe.
In 2020, the Spanish food supplements market was valued at €400 million by market researcher DBK. Prior to COVID-19 this market was growing at an average annual rate of 6%. In 2020, the market expanded by 12% due to the pandemic, but this high growth rate is not expected to be sustained.
Around 75% of the Spanish population consume some type of nutritional supplement. Food supplement consumption was historically much lower than in other West European countries, but these levels are approaching those of countries with a longer tradition of food supplement consumption. Spanish consumers mainly take food supplements to support health and general well-being.
In 2021, the Spanish Academy of Nutrition carried out a study to determine use of supplements in Spain. In a sample of 2,630 people, consumers indicated their main reasons to take supplements were to improve general health, to improve the functioning of their immune system and to have more energy. Plant extracts, such as fibre, pollen, royal jelly and propolis were consumed by 29% of consumers.
In conclusion, the most prospective countries for moringa are Western European countries. European consumers, especially those in Germany, the UK and France, are becoming more aware of the health properties of moringa. Most moringa products are sold in specialist retailers in Western European countries. Demand for moringa is expected to continue to increase in the coming years. The main restraint to market growth is low consumer awareness in overall Europe.
- Focus on Western European countries, as they import the highest volumes of moringa; these countries also have consumers with the highest awareness of moringa products. Western European countries also have the largest nutritional supplements markets, as well as robust processing sectors.
- Consider supplying organic moringa when targeting country markets such as Germany, Italy, the UK and France. These countries have the largest markets for organic products in Europe. Organic moringa is in growing demand in the European market.
- Read the CBI study on exporting plant proteins for health products to Europe. This has more information on competition, regulations and competition.
4. Which trends offer opportunities on the European moringa market
Moringa can benefit from the increase in health consciousness among the European population. European consumers are looking for natural ways to improve their health and immune system. The COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating demand for immune-boosting health products. However, low and inconsistency of quality cause major problems to European buyers.
Calorie reduction and weight loss culture
The culture of weight loss and reducing calories is driving the moringa products market. Concerns relating to weight and obesity are increasing rapidly in most of Europe, and this trend is expected to continue; the European weight loss supplements market is forecast to increase 4.9% annually from 2020 to 2025. This trend presents an opportunity for moringa suppliers to the European health products market.
This growth is because of moringa’s ability to reduce weight gain. Moringa has active properties, such as being a rich source of vitamins and fibre, being a remedy for water retention and stimulating metabolism. In addition, moringa is perceived as a natural food that is used for weight loss.
- See the CBI study entitled Trends for natural ingredients for health products for more information on trends and developments in the European market.
- See the CBI Study What requirements must natural ingredients for health products comply with to be allowed on the European market? Doing so will provide you with useful information and guidance on entering the European market. For example, terms such as ‘low-fat’ and ’fat-free’ are regulated by the EU.
Changing perceptions of health: focus on prevention and active lifestyles
Consumers’ understanding of what it means to be healthy is changing, and this is driving demand for health products. European consumers use health products to prevent diseases and feel good, by adding supplements to their regular diet for example. This trend has been reinforced by the COVID-19 pandemic. During this crisis, consumer demand for products that could improve general health and immunity soared.
Moringa powder contains beneficial active nutrients, including vitamins and antioxidants that help to strengthen immunity. Moringa suppliers can capitalise on this by ensuring their products contain the highest levels of active nutrients. They should be ready to provide samples to prospective European buyers. In addition, they should highlight the beneficial active properties of their moringa in marketing materials.
According to the International Nut and Dried Fruit Council (INC), around half of Europeans are looking for some kind of wellness benefits from the food they purchase. This is translating into a growing market for food supplements.
Demand for foods that are a rich source of nutrients (so-called ‘superfoods’) is increasing due to the trend towards health-consciousness. In January 2022, sales of these foods were significantly higher than in 2021, rising by 91%. The term ‘superfood’ is a marketing term and considered an unauthorised health claim in Europe. However, European companies still use the term by making it part of their brand name. These types of foods commonly contain high concentrations of certain beneficial nutrients, like moringa.
The changing perception of health also leads to consumers using energy products to support an active lifestyle. There is a growing demand for these products worldwide, which is creating opportunities for moringa. Energy drinks and food supplements that offer an alternative source of energy to caffeine are becoming particularly popular among European consumers. The European market for energy drinks is predicted to grow 3.8% annually from 2022 to 2027, making it one of the fastest-growing beverage market segments in Europe. A consumer survey conducted by Food Supplements Europe also indicated that 29% of food supplement consumers use the products for energy.
- Focus on moringa’s nutritional profile when communicating with European buyers. In particular, highlight the high levels of vitamins, minerals and protein that moringa products contain, as these are good selling points for buyers. Consumers are looking for natural ways to increase their vitamin intake without taking vitamin supplements. For example, the Indian company Terry Exports has a website with helpful information on moringa and how to use it.
- Do not make any medicinal claims when communicating with European buyers in the supplement sector. Food supplements are not allowed to make any medicinal claims, and moringa is not authorised for use in medicinal products. See the CBI study Entering the European market for moringa for more information.
Lack of quality in moringa supply chain puts European buyers off
According to industry feedback, the quality of moringa on the market is low. Inconsistency in quality and issues, such as corruption and bribery have forced some European buyers to stop importing moringa. A former importer of moringa stated: “With COVID19 lockdown measures present in countries, such as India, the situation got even worse, as many producers stopped operations.” Another importer of moringa complained that they were sent a high quality sample, but then the quality of moringa they received afterwards was much lower.
Buyers have indicated that recently there have been issues in pesticide residues in shipments of moringa, particularly from India. Moreover, contamination with Ethylene Oxide (ETO) gas has also been an issue in Indian shipments of various products. This gas is sometimes used to sterilise spices and packaging materials. The EU’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) also includes ETO contamination of moringa from India. One buyer of moringa mentioned that although shipments of moringa from African suppliers have fewer issues with pesticides residues, they may suffer from microbiology issues.
You should make sure that the quality of your moringa is consistent and up to par with European standards. Quality is the most common issue that European buyers complain about when it comes to their experiences when importing moringa. Make sure your moringa is not contaminated with any substances or residues and that you have sufficient storage facilities.
- See CBI Market Entry Study on Moringa, where you can find quality requirements European buyers have for moringa. You can also read about quality management standards you can adopt, in order to improve the quality of moringa.
- Make sure you are transparent about the quality of the moringa you offer. Inconsistency in quality may lead to termination of your business relationships. Focus on building long term partnerships based on trust and transparency.
This study was carried out on behalf of CBI by ProFound – Advisers In Development.
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