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What is the demand for natural ingredients for health products on the European market?

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An ageing population and increasing consumer demand for natural supplements make Europe a promising market for natural ingredients for health products. European companies are launching new natural health products, and some are replacing synthetic ingredients with natural ones in product formulations. European consumers are also open to trying complementary and alternative medicines, which is also stimulating demand for natural ingredients. Western European countries have the most opportunities for exporters of natural ingredients for health products in developing countries.

1. Sector description

For this report, health products are defined as substances such as vitamins, minerals, supplements, traditional medicines, herbal medicines and homeopathic preparations. Natural ingredients used in health products can have functional and active properties. The most prospective natural ingredients for health products include:

- Essential oils (e.g. frankincense, nutmeg, patchouli and geranium);
- Turmeric;
- Baobab;
- Aloe vera;
- Moringa;
- Seaweeds and algae (spirulina and chlorella).

 Table 1: Description of the most prospective natural ingredients for health products

 

HS code

Description

Moringa

HS code 07129090 &1219086

Moringa is a plant with a wide range of nutritional properties. Most moringa products in Europe involve Moringa oleifera. In the European health products market, Moringa oleifera leaf powder is mainly used in food supplements and as a powder. It is considered a superfood in the health products sector because its dense nutrient content can boost the immune system, balance hormone levels and improve skin and bone health, as well as vision. Moringa is also increasingly used as a plant-based protein source in vegan and vegetarian products.

Baobab

HS code 11063090

Baobab is a multi-purpose tree; its fruit pulp, seeds, leaves, flowers, roots and bark can be used for human consumption. Baobab is high in vitamin C, phosphorus, calcium, fibre, carbohydrates, protein, potassium and lipids. The powder is made of baobab fruit, which is the main ingredient on the European market.

Turmeric

HS code 091030000

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a subspecies of the Curcuma genus from the family of Zingiberaceae. Curcuma longa is the most popular 1. The active substance of turmeric (Curcuma longa), curcumin, has multiple therapeutic properties such as anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and cancer prevention.

Seaweeds and other algae fit for human consumption

HS code 1212210000

Seaweed refers to a number of species of macroscopic, multicellular and marine algae which grow along rocky shorelines around the world. Seaweed varies in colour from red to black. Most edible seaweed is marine seaweed, which is part of many coastal cuisines.

Essential oils

HS code 3301

Essential oils are chemical compounds extracted from plants that have been used throughout history. There are several types of essential oils; the most popular essential oils include lavender, peppermint, orange, eucalyptus, tea tree and lemon. The essence of plant extracts is what makes oils essential, and they are mainly obtained through steam and water distillation.

Aloe vera

HS code 130219

Aloe vera is the main commercially cultivated species of the genus Aloe. It is widely cultivated in Asia, Latin America and Africa, as well as in North America and Europe. It has a number of health benefits; this is because Aloe vera has vitamins, minerals and amino acids; antibacterial, antiviral and antiseptic properties; the ability to accelerate wound healing, reduce dental plaque and help treat mouth ulcers; positive laxative effects; and the ability to improve skin and prevent wrinkles. It can also lower blood sugar levels.

2. What makes Europe an interesting market for natural ingredients for health products?

Europe is a significant producer, exporter and consumer of pharmaceuticals. It is an important market for pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals and complementary and alternative medicine products. The market is forecast to grow partly because Europe has an ageing population. Consumer demand for healthier and more natural products with greater effectiveness is encouraging European companies to invest in research and development and look for natural ingredients.

For suppliers of natural ingredients from developing countries, there are many opportunities in the European market. Demand for natural ingredients is increasing, including those from developing countries, especially because many such ingredients have functional and unique properties.

According to the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), the European pharmaceutical market was worth EUR 227.4 billion in 2019. Europe is also a significant exporter of pharmaceuticals, boasting an export value of EUR 473.7 billion in 2019.

The number of applications of natural ingredients in pharmaceuticals is increasing. Natural ingredients are used in pharmaceuticals due to their functional and active properties. For example, they can be used as lubricants, binders, coating agents, preservatives, solvents, colouring agents, emulsifiers and flavouring agents. In the coming years, the number of applications of natural ingredients in pharmaceuticals is expected to increase. Consumers are demanding more natural products, including natural ingredients in medicines and pharmaceuticals.

Key drivers behind this trend include the increasing availability, relatively low costs, lower toxicity and more favourable side effect profiles of natural ingredients. Safety in the use of natural ingredients in pharmaceuticals is also a major drawback. The risks of microbial and heavy metal contamination are higher because the quality of natural ingredients depends on crops, which are influenced by soil quality, environmental conditions and the climate.

For European buyers of natural ingredients for health products, quality and contamination are 2 major issues, so they require high-quality consistent batches of uncontaminated natural ingredients. Buyers are increasingly demanding certified organic products because they are a sign of quality.

For example, when asked about the need for organic certification, a European buyer replied that “organic certification is always needed”, with another buyer stating, “yes 100 percent, I don’t think any client would buy from us if it was not organically certified”. Another buyer said, “the vast majority of things we buy are organic, so they would need to be organic certified”. There is also a growing market for organic products in the European market, a trend that is expected to continue.

Key factors driving consumer demand for organic products in the European market include consumers seeing organic products as being of higher quality, safer and free of synthetic chemicals. Sales of organic products in Europe have been increasing since the COVID-19 outbreak; this trend is likely to continue. Consumers are also buying organic products as they look to boost their personal immunity.

Figure 1: EU organic certification logo

Organic certification logo

Source: ec.europa.eu

Sustainable production in terms of environmental and/or social impacts is growing in importance. There is a growing demand for the transparency and traceability of supply chains in the natural product industry. This is the case for natural ingredients for health products such as baobab, edible seaweeds and essential oils. This trend is driven by rising consumer awareness and growing demand for environmentally friendly and socially responsible products, something expected to continue.

Figure 2: Logos of environmental and fair trade certifications

Logos of environmental and fair trade certifications

Source: Various

Europe’s ageing population will increase the rates of chronic disease in the future. This trend is expected to stimulate demand for pharmaceuticals. At the same time, consumers are interested in using natural products to improve their general well-being and prevent illness.

In 2020, the European dietary supplements market was valued at USD 14.95 billion and was projected to grow by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.49 percent to 2026. The European dietary supplements market is increasing during the pandemic, as it has made consumers more interested in their health and wellness.

Even though supplements are taken by consumers of all ages, the demand is highest among the baby boomer generation (born between 1946 and 1964). Research shows that this generation is most concerned with both the origin and safety of ingredients in supplements. Approximately 71 percent of European shoppers say that they consider the absence of preservatives to be the most important feature when purchasing supplements.

The global complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) market was worth USD 82.27 billion in 2020, according to Grand View Research. It is expected that the market will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22 percent by 2028. Europe is the second-largest market followed by Asia. Studies have shown that the most-used CAM treatment is massage therapy, used by 11.9 percent of the population, followed by homeopathy (5.7 percent), osteopathy (5.2 percent), herbal treatments (4.6 percent), acupuncture (3.6 percent), chiropractic (2.3 percent), reflexology (1.7 percent) and spiritual healing (1.3 percent).

This data tells us that the prospects for suppliers of natural ingredients for health products are good in Europe. The consumer market in Europe is growing steadily. European consumers tend to have relatively high disposable incomes. Increasing corporate investment in innovation and R&D makes Europe an attractive export destination for suppliers of natural raw materials.

Tips:

  • Visit the site of the EFPIA for more information about the European pharmaceutical market.
  • Visit the International Trade Center site INTRACEN for more information on the trade in medicinal plants.
  • Focus more on the nutraceutical market, as opposed to pharmaceuticals. In Europe, natural ingredients are used in much larger quantities in the supplements sector and the complementary and alternative medicine sector than in allopathic medicine.
  • Inform buyers how your ingredients can help consumers to improve their health and well-being. Focus on the nutritional or health aspects of your ingredients when supplying active ingredients. Do not make medical claims. More information on EU regulations regarding claims can be found on the European Commission website.
  • See the CBI study on buyer requirements for natural ingredients for health products, which provides an overview of regulations for exporting natural ingredients for health products to Europe.

3. Which European markets offer most opportunities for natural ingredients for health products?

Western European countries such as Germany, France, Italy, the UK, Spain and the Netherlands are the most attractive country markets for suppliers of natural ingredients for health products. The Netherlands is an important entry point for these natural ingredients.

These countries have the biggest processing sectors and consumer markets. Large companies using natural ingredients to make health products are also located there. Some of the largest producers of supplements and pharmaceuticals are in Western European countries.

Germany

Table 1: Imports of selected natural ingredients for health products to Germany

2020

000 Tonnes

 Percent (%) Change Volume (2016-2020)

m EUR

 Percent (%) Change Value (2016-2020)

Pharmaceutical market value 2019*

Supplements market value 2019*

HS code 07129090 for other dried vegetables and mixtures of vegetables under which moringa is traded

26.5

0%

83.2

-17.0%

EUR 40.4 billion

EUR 2.6 billion

HS code 1219086 for other medical plants and parts of plants under which moringa is traded

70.9

9.0%

318.4

40.0%

HS code 0910300000, Turmeric

5.7

65.0%

13.4

70.0%

HS code 1212210000, Seaweeds and other algae fit for human consumption

1.3

-2.0%

8.5

72.0%

HS code 3301, Essential oils

24.5

18.0%

318.1

0%

HS code 130219, Other vegetable saps and extracts under which Aloe vera is traded

7.2

22.0%

261.2

57.0%

Source: Eurostat, EFPIA, IQVIA
*Latest data available

Table 1 shows imports of selected natural ingredients for health products to Germany from 2016-2020. Import volumes increased in all categories apart from seaweeds and other algae fit for human consumption (HS code 1212210000). Over the same period, the value of imports increased in all categories apart from other dried vegetables and mixtures of vegetables (HS code 07129090) under which moringa is traded.

Germany is 1 of the largest consumer markets in Europe for conventional and organic products. According to the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), the German pharmaceutical market was valued at EUR 40.4 billion in 2019. Germany exported EUR 81.8 billion worth of pharmaceuticals in 2019.

According to IQVIA, the German nutritional supplements market was worth EUR 2.57 billion in 2019. Vitamins and minerals account for 51 percent of the market, and supplements for the cardiovascular system have a 10 percent share. Immune-boosting supplements and supplements for pain-relief and muscle and joint health have a 9 percent share each. Probiotics for the digestive tract and remedies for the bladder and reproductive organs have an 8 percent share each. Eye care, oral care and hair care account for the remaining share.

German dietary supplements sales experienced a small increase from COVID-19 due to the perceived immune-boosting qualities of some products.

Denk Ingredients, Bio Import Europa and SanaBio are important German traders of natural ingredients for health products. Some importers focus on certified ingredients. According to industry feedback, Germany is a promising market for natural ingredient suppliers for health products. The demand for natural and clean products in Germany continues to grow.

France                                             

Table 2: Imports of selected natural ingredients for health products to France

2020

000 Tonnes

 Percent (%) Change Volume (2016-2020)

m EUR

 Percent (%) Change Value (2016-2020)

Pharmaceutical market value 2019*

Supplements market value 2019*

HS code 07129090 for other dried vegetables and mixtures of vegetables under which moringa is traded

10.0

25.0%

35.4

-3.0%

EUR 29.3 billion

EUR 1.9 billion

HS code 1219086 for other medical plants and parts of plants under which moringa is traded

19.4

2.0%

94.1

28.0%

HS code 0910300000, Turmeric

2.2

39.0%

5.3

8.0%

HS code 1212210000, Seaweeds and other algae fit for human consumption

1.0

-71.0%

5.1

-48.0%

HS code 3301, Essential oils

 

12.2

 

30.0%

359.4

3.0%

HS code 130219, Other vegetable saps and extracts under which Aloe vera is traded

17.9

-6.0%

144.4

24.0%

Source: Eurostat, EFPIA, Pileje
*Latest data available

Table 2 shows imports of selected natural ingredients for health products to France from 2016-2020.

Import volumes showed an increase in all categories apart from seaweeds and other algae fit for human consumption (HS code 1212210000) and other vegetable saps and extracts (HS code 130219) under which Aloe vera is traded. During the same period, the value of imports increased in all categories apart from other dried vegetables and mixtures of vegetables (HS code 07129090) under which moringa is traded and seaweeds and other algae fit for human consumption (HS code 1212210000).

The EFPIA valued the French pharmaceutical market at almost EUR 29.304 billion in 2019. The value of French pharmaceutical exports reached EUR 32.5 billion in 2019. The French food supplements market was worth EUR 1.9 billion in 2019, representing growth of 1.3 percent compared to 2018. The COVID-19 pandemic led to an increase in French sales of dietary supplements, especially those that strengthen the immune system, boost energy levels, aid relaxation and calm stress. Demand is expected to grow in the coming years.

Important traders of natural ingredients for health products in France include Nexira, Greentech and Elixens. France also acts as a re-exporter of natural ingredients for health products to other European countries. Suppliers of natural ingredients from developing countries should target French buyers.

Italy

Table 3: Imports of selected natural ingredients for health products to Italy

2020

000 Tonnes

 Percent (%) Change Volume (2016-2020)

m EUR

 Percent (%) Change Value (2016-2020)

Pharmaceutical market value 2019*

Supplements market value 2019*

HS code 07129090 for other dried vegetables and mixtures of vegetables under which moringa is traded

2.7

-14.1%

8.9

-23.0%

EUR 24.1 billion

EUR 3.6 billion

HS code 1219086 for other medical plants and parts of plants under which moringa is traded

12.5

0.1%

71.7

3.0%

HS code 0910300000, Turmeric

0.8

-0.6%

1.4

-44.0%

HS code 1212210000, Seaweeds and other algae fit for human consumption

0.5

-9.4%

5.5

1.0%

HS code 3301, Essential oils

4.9

30.0%

71.6

17.0%

HS code 130219, Other vegetable saps and extracts under which Aloe vera is traded

9.9

106.6%

96.4

45.0%

Source: Eurostat, EFPIA, FederSalus
*Latest data available

Table 3 shows Italian imports of selected natural ingredients for health products from 2016-2020.

Import volumes increased in all categories apart from other dried vegetables and mixtures of vegetables (HS code 07129090) under which moringa is traded; turmeric; and seaweeds and other algae fit for human consumption (HS code 1212210000). Over the same period, the value of imports increased in all categories apart from turmeric and other dried vegetables and mixtures of vegetables (HS code 07129090) under which moringa is traded.

Italy has 1 of the largest consumer markets in Europe for conventional and organic products. The Italian pharmaceutical market was valued at EUR 24.1 billion in 2019 by the EFPIA. The value of Italian pharmaceutical exports reached EUR 31.7 billion in the same year. The Italian food supplements market was valued at EUR 3.6 billion in 2019.

Pharmacies are the main sales channel in Italy, with supplements being the second-largest category after prescription drugs. In Italy, around 65 percent of the adult Italian population use supplements for various reasons. In 2019, 28.6 million medical prescriptions were issued for food supplements. In 2020, the purchasing power of Italian consumers declined during the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, Italians are prioritising essential dietary supplements that boost the immune system.

Baobab Fruit Company, Novachem Aromatici and ACEF are important Italian traders of natural ingredients for health products.

UK

Table 4: Imports of selected natural ingredients for health products to the UK

2019*

000 Tonnes

 Percent (%) Change Volume (2015-2019)

m EUR

 Percent (%) Change Value (2015-2019)

Pharmaceutical market value 2019*

Supplements market value 2019*

HS code 07129090 for other dried vegetables and mixtures of vegetables under which moringa is traded

8.6

8.0%

25.3

9.0%

EUR 23.3 billion

EUR 449.5 million

HS code 1219086 for other medical plants and parts of plants under which moringa is traded

17.5

107.0%

62.7

37.0%

HS code 0910300000, Turmeric

8.8

124.0%

13.1

89.0%

HS code 1212210000, Seaweeds and other algae fit for human consumption

6.3

-9.0%

11.4

-17.0%

HS code 3301, Essential oils

10.8

-25.0%

228.4

-13.0%

HS code 130219, Other vegetable saps and extracts under which Aloe vera is traded

4.2

22.0%

57.9

22.0%

Source: Eurostat, EFPIA, Mintel
*Latest data available

Table 4 shows UK imports of selected natural ingredients for health products from 2015-2019. Import volumes showed an increase in all categories apart from seaweeds and other algae fit for human consumption (HS code 1212210000) and essential oils. Meanwhile, over the same period, the value of UK imports increased in all categories apart from seaweeds and other algae fit for human consumption and essential oils.

The UK pharmaceutical market was valued at EUR 23.3 billion in 2019 by the EFPIA. The value of the UK’s pharmaceutical exports reached almost EUR 25.7 billion in 2019.

The UK has 1 of the largest consumer markets in Europe. There is an increasing demand for nutritional supplements. According to Mintel, the UK supplements market was worth GBP 449.5 million in 2019, with the market expected to grow in the coming years. During the COVID-19 pandemic, sales of supplements in the UK have increased, particularly vitamin and mineral supplements.

Important traders of natural ingredients for health products include Organic Herb Trading Co, Super Nutrients and Aduna. Brexit – Britain’s exit from the European Union (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 into new trade deals with developing countries is likely to take time.

Spain

Table 5: Imports of selected natural ingredients for health products to Spain

2020

000 Tonnes

 Percent (%) Change Volume (2016-2020)

m EUR

 Percent (%) Change Value (2016-2020)

Pharmaceutical market value 2019*

Supplements market value 2018*

HS code 07129090 for other dried vegetables and mixtures of vegetables under which moringa is traded

5.4

9.1%

13.3

-16.0%

EUR 17.1 billion

EUR 920 million

HS code 1219086 for other medical plants and parts of plants under which moringa is traded

25.4

24.1%

85.9

27.0%

HS code 0910300000, Turmeric

2.2

105.7%

3.5

34.0%

HS code 1212210000, Seaweeds and other algae fit for human consumption

0.7

17.1%

3.8

-17.0%

HS code 3301, Essential oils

6.9

-10.8%

131.2

16.0%

HS code 130219, Other vegetable saps and extracts under which Aloe vera is traded

6.4

2.5%

88.9

67.0%

Source: Eurostat, EFPIA, AFEPADI
*Latest data available

Table 5 shows Spanish imports of selected natural ingredients for health products from 2016-2020. Import volumes increased in all categories apart from essential oils. At the same time, the value of Spanish imports increased in all categories apart from other dried vegetables and mixtures of vegetables (HS code 07129090) under which moringa is traded and seaweeds and other algae fit for human consumption.

According to the EFPIA, the Spanish pharmaceutical market was valued at EUR 17.1 billion in 2019. The value of Spanish pharmaceutical exports reached nearly EUR 10.5 billion in the same year. The Spanish nutritional supplements market was valued at EUR 920 million in 2018, according to the Association of Dietetic and Food Supplement Companies (AFEPADI). The COVID-19 pandemic has increased Spanish sales of dietary supplements, particularly those that strengthen the immune system and increase resistance potential. CHEMIR S.A. and Grupo Plimon, S.L are important traders of natural ingredients for health products in Spain.

The Netherlands

Table 6: Imports of selected natural ingredients for health products to the Netherlands

2020

000 Tonnes

 Percent (%) Change Volume (2016-2020)

m EUR

 Percent (%) Change Value (2016-2020)

Pharmaceutical market value 2019*

Supplements market value 2018*

HS code 07129090 for other dried vegetables and mixtures of vegetables under which moringa is traded

21.7

-28.0%

85.8

8.0%

EUR 5.8 billion

EUR 143 million

HS code 1219086 for other medical plants and parts of plants under which moringa is traded

14.9

34.0%

69.2

52.0%

HS code 0910300000, Turmeric

6.5

50.0%

11.4

58.0%

HS code 1212210000, Seaweeds and other algae fit for human consumption

0.5

38.0%

6.0

16.0%

HS code 3301, Essential oils

16.4

14.0%

255.4

27.0%

HS code 130219, Other vegetable saps and extracts under which Aloe vera is traded

12.0

88.0%

73.6

110.0%

Source: Eurostat and EFPIA
*Latest data available

Table 6 shows Dutch imports of selected natural ingredients for health products from 2016-2020. Import volumes increased in all categories apart from other dried vegetables and mixtures of vegetables (HS code 07129090) under which moringa is traded. HS code 130219 under which Aloe vera is traded followed by HS code 0910300000, turmeric, and then essential oils saw the biggest increases in volume. Between 2016 and 2020, the value of Dutch imports increased in all categories.

According to the EFPIA, the Dutch pharmaceutical market was valued at EUR 5.8 billion in 2019. The value of Dutch pharmaceutical exports reached EUR 44.4 billion in the same year. The Dutch supplements market was valued at EUR 143 million in 2018. Before the coronavirus pandemic, Dutch demand for dietary supplements was increasing. This trend continued during COVID-19. Demand for dietary supplements increased as consumers sought products that helped boost their immune systems and improve their overall health.

The Netherlands is a leading importer of natural ingredients to Europe. Most natural ingredients for health products are imported through traders and then re-exported to other European countries. Suppliers of natural ingredients in developing countries should target importers which usually re-export to other European countries. Important traders include Trading Organic, IMCD and De Lange.

The Netherlands is expected to remain an attractive market for exporters. The country is an important re-exporter of raw materials, such as essential oils, baobab and turmeric.

Natural ingredients are also used in the dietary supplements sector. Indeed, many consumers have traditionally bought supplements because of their natural ingredients, as they offer a potential alternative to allopathic medicines.

Even though supplements are consumed by consumers of all ages, the demand is highest among the baby boomer generation (born between 1946 and 1964). Research shows that this generation is most concerned with both the origin and safety of ingredients in supplements. Approximately 71 percent of European shoppers say that they consider the absence of preservatives to be the most important feature when purchasing supplements.

The most promising country markets for suppliers of natural ingredients in developing countries are the Western European countries, as they are home to the biggest processing sector and consumer markets. Some of the largest producers of supplements and pharmaceuticals can also be found in Western European countries.

Tips:

  • Target health product companies in Western Europe. These countries are the biggest consumers and producers of pharmaceuticals and supplements. Consumers in these countries are also open to various types of complementary and alternative medicine.
  • There is an increasing demand for organic ingredients in countries such as Germany, France and Italy. If you offer certified ingredients, you should target buyers in these countries.
  • See the CBI study on finding buyers on the European market, which provides useful information on how to maximise your chances when looking for buyers on the European market.
  • Acquire verification and certifications that prove your natural ingredients for health products meet organic, environmental and social standards. Examples include EU organic certification and FLO Fairtrade certification, as well as the FairForLife and FairWild standards. This will help you find opportunities in the European market.
  • Visit trade fairs where you can find buyers for the nutraceutical sector. Examples include Vitafoods Europe and Health Ingredients. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many trade fairs offer virtual events, which might make it easier for exporters in developing countries to attend.

4. Which products from developing countries have most potential on the European market?

Exports to Europe of natural ingredients for health products have a lot of potential. Many types of natural ingredients are used in pharmaceuticals, supplements and complementary and alternative medicine.

Essential oils, turmeric, baobab, Aloe vera, moringa, seaweeds and algae products (like spirulina and chlorella) are some of the most promising ingredients. These ingredients are in demand in both the pharmaceutical and nutraceutical sectors. Essential oils are also used in complementary and alternative medicine. Risks include the fact that companies that use a wide range of natural ingredients are able to easily switch ingredients according to market trends and consumer demand.

Essential oils

Essential oils are widely used in aromatherapy products. Europe has a growing market for aromatherapy products. The market is projected to reach USD 3.591 billion by 2027. European demand for aromatherapy products is growing as consumers look for alternative ways to treat health conditions. Essential oils have a wide range of properties such as anti-bacterial, invigorating, refreshing, soothing and stress-relieving. They can be used to treat or lessen symptoms of conditions such as anxiety, depression, eczema, indigestion, insomnia and stress.

The health benefits of essential oils are another major reason for the growing demand for aromatherapy products in Europe. Increasing health consciousness among European consumers, the demand for greener and more natural products, as well as the rising rates of chronic and mental illness in Europe, are expected to increase demand for aromatherapy products in Europe.

Demand for essential oils is projected to rise in the coming years. Increasing consumer awareness of the beneficial properties of aromatherapy products is a key factor behind this. The expected growth is also associated with the rising popularity of supplements and herbal and Ayurvedic medicine.

Figures 3 and 4 show that both the volume and the value of import of essential oils to Europe increased from 2016 to 2020. Between 2016 and 2020, the value of imports increased by 17.3 percent, and the volume increased by 11.5 percent.

These figures suggest a trend of rising prices for essential oils. The production of essential oils can be affected by unstable weather conditions, disease and climate change. The prices of essential oils are expected to continue to increase in the future.

The most important essential oils in terms of volume imported to Europe are orange, peppermint and other mint oils, which are usually used in the food industry. Essential oils used in aromatherapy products include patchouli, ylang-ylang, tea tree, sandalwood and nutmeg. France and Germany are the most promising country markets for these types of oils, as they are home to the biggest importers of essential oils. These countries also have important markets for aromatherapy products.

Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and the UK are other big importers of essential oils. Many of these importing countries re-export essential oils to other countries. Germany, France and the UK are the biggest exporters of essential oils in Europe.

Exporters of essential oils from developing countries should avoid focusing on essential oils that can be sourced from Europe. France, for example, is a large European producer of essential oils. Lavender, lavandin, rose and clary sage, for instance, are all grown in France, where there is a significant aromatherapy and fragrance industry.

Suppliers in developing countries should focus on essential oils which are not grown in Europe. These include frankincense, patchouli, nutmeg, geranium, ylang-ylang, sandalwood and lemongrass.

There is an increasing trend of transparency and traceability in natural ingredient supply chains. This trend is driven by growing consumer awareness and demand for ethical products. Sustainable production of essential oils is becoming important for natural health products, something expected to become more important in the coming years. Suppliers of essential oils should adopt sustainable production practices and/or adopt certification schemes.

Tips:

  • Clearly communicate the country of origin of your products so your buyers pass this information on to end users.
  • Sustainable sourcing practices are becoming increasingly important for European buyers when buying essential oils. You must be willing to improve your sustainability practices as required by buyers if you do not have these measures in place already.
  • Look up documents that describe the properties, benefits and claims associated with essential oils used in aromatherapy. You can do this by visiting AromaWeb’s Essential Oils Directory, which provides information about essential oil properties, uses and benefits of popular essential oils. Refer to publications, press releases and advertisements of your competitors.
  • Substantiate any claims you make with sufficient data. See our study of aromatherapy for health products for additional information on the health uses and requirements with regard to aromatherapy oils.
  • Look up aromatherapy companies to see what claims they make about essential oils. Check the websites of companies that sell aromatherapy products in Europe, such as Farfalla Essentials (Switzerland), Neal’s Yard Remedies (the United Kingdom), Taoasis (Germany) and Primavera Life (Germany).
  • Read the CBI studies on Exporting essential oils to Europe, which provide further information about entering the European market and the European market potential.

Turmeric

Turmeric is becoming a popular ingredient in the European health products market. Known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric is used as a supplement and in medical products to boost the immune and digestive systems and overall health.

The global curcumin market is expected to be valued at USD 1.3 billion by 2024. Europe is projected to be the fastest growing region, with a 16.6 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) projected to 2024. Cultivated on the mainland and islands of the Indian Ocean, turmeric is native to South-East Asia. Most turmeric imported into the EU comes from India, but other source countries include Thailand, Madagascar, Peru and Sri Lanka. Figure 3 shows that the imports of turmeric to Europe have increased in terms of both value and volume over the last 5 years.

Turmeric is used in the pharmaceutical, nutraceutical and homeopathic industries. However, in Europe, turmeric is mostly used by the food industry. Turmeric is increasingly used in the natural health product industry due to its curcumin content, which has benefits such as anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and cancer prevention properties among several others.

Figure 6 shows the value of turmeric imported to Europe increased between 2016 and 2020. Figure 7 shows that the volume of turmeric imported to Europe increased over the same period. Between 2016 and 2020, the value of imports increased by 45.2 percent, with the volume increasing by 65.6 percent.

Increasing life expectancy of European consumers is a major driver for growth in the turmeric market. The growing number of health-conscious customers in Europe is also driving growth. The rising popularity of ethnic cuisine in which turmeric is used is another driver.

Demand for organic turmeric is increasing in the European market, and this is expected to continue in the coming years. In an interview, 1 European buyer of turmeric stated that “organic has become an industry standard”, with its demand “always increasing”. Rising consumer awareness and their willingness to pay extra for high-quality products are 2 key drivers behind this growth. In addition, European demand for organic foods and plant-based supplements is also increasing.

Industry sources have stated adulteration is 1 of the main food safety issues for turmeric from India, which is the leading exporter of turmeric to the European market. However, turmeric adulteration is not confined only to India. It is also an issue for other developing countries. Quality and contamination are therefore 2 major issues for European buyers of turmeric.

Exporters of turmeric in developing countries should therefore consider obtaining EU organic certification, as certified organic products are a sign of quality, traceability and sustainability. Having organic certification gives exporters an advantage in a competitive market, as it makes them stand out.

Demand for turmeric is expected to continue to grow in the future, as the ingredient has become popular amongst European consumers. Turmeric is used in nutraceuticals that boost overall immunity. According to industry sources, the demand for natural ingredients with immune-boosting properties has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. Industry experts expect this trend to continue in the future.

Figure 7: Turmeric

Turmeric

Source: Natthapol Siridech / Shutterstock.com

Tips:

  • Discuss with your buyer whether they require food-grade or pharmaceutical-grade turmeric.
  • Obtain organic certification for your turmeric and look for buyers specialising in organic products. Having organic certification gives your ingredients greater credibility and makes them more competitive. You can also charge a premium for such ingredients.
  • Do not make medicinal claims if you are targeting buyers in the food supplements industry.
  • Ensure you can meet the high regulatory and buyer requirements regarding herbal medicinal products. See the CBI report on buyer requirements for exporting to the European market for more information.
  • Do market research on current suppliers of turmeric. Make sure that your prices are competitive and that you offer high-quality and professional services. You can check various online portals, such as Europages or Indiamart.
  • See the CBI studies on Exporting turmeric to Europe, as they provide further information about entering the European market and on the market potential.

Baobab

Baobab ingredients are derived from the baobab tree, which is native to Africa. Baobab is wild-harvested and is manually collected by local villagers. A single baobab tree can produce over 1,500 baobab fruits per year.

According to industry research, the baobab powder market in Western Europe is expected to grow by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.3 percent in terms of value and 2.6 percent in terms of volume until 2025. Baobab powder is used in food and health products because of its nutritional qualities, such as its high levels of vitamin C, phosphorus, calcium, fibre, carbohydrates, protein, potassium and lipids.

Baobab is also known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, as it is rich in fibre, minerals and vitamins. Health benefits associated with baobab include improved digestion and immune system function, as well as prevention of anaemia and asthma.

The European market for baobab ingredients is expected to increase by about 4 percent in the coming years. The main markets are in Germany, France and the UK. Increasing popularity of baobab and its wide use in natural health products such as supplements and capsules are key factors behind this growth.

However, low consumer awareness and a lack of scientific evidence on baobab’s health benefits are challenges to the growth of the European baobab ingredient market. In addition, some say baobab’s white colour makes it difficult for it to stand out and appeal to consumers. As a result, it can be harder for exporters to approach European buyers who would rather purchase ingredients consumers are familiar with, as well as ingredients that are more visually appealing.

The quality of baobab is also a major challenge, especially poor quality that can damage trust among European buyers. Exporters of baobab from developing countries may also find it challenging to set a price level for their product, as a wide range of different product varieties are available. Furthermore, European buyers can easily lose confidence in a particular supplier if the fruit appears to be of poor quality. Demand for baobab ingredients is dampened by these factors, which also tend to drive prices down.

Strong quality standards are implemented in order to raise demand for baobab in Europe. Baobab is not a plantation crop. Therefore, suppliers rely on existing trees for their harvest; this is another challenge. Climate change and subsequent changes in rainfall pose another threat to the baobab supply from Africa.

There is growing consumer demand for organic products across Europe, a trend expected to continue. Many buyers are therefore demanding organic ingredients for their natural health products. For example, when asked about the need for organic certification, a European buyer of baobab replied that “organic certification is always needed”, with another buyer stating, “yes 100 percent, I don’t think any client would buy from us if it was not organically certified”. Another buyer said, “the vast majority of things we buy are organic, so they would need to be organic certified”.

Additionally, according to 1 buyer, “there isn’t really a market in the EU for non-organic baobab”, and “if somebody came onto the market with non-organic baobab, they wouldn’t really have a chance because they would be competing against everybody else that are only selling organic”. So as an exporter of baobab, consider getting organic certification, as it will increase your chances of entering the European market. In addition, certified organic products are a sign of quality, traceability and sustainability.

However, despite several challenges, the demand for baobab in Europe is expected to increase in the future. The African Baobab Alliance forecasts exports will reach 5 thousand tonnes by 2025.

Figure 8: Baobab

Baobab

Source: pxhere

Tips:

  • Refer to the digestive health and immune-boosting properties of baobab in your product documentation. For example, British company Aduna sells baobab-based health products. The company has entered various sourcing partnerships with baobab producers in Ghana. Aduna markets baobab as a superfood and is part of a social media campaign called #makebaobabfamous. Do not make medicinal claims if you are targeting buyers in the food supplements industry.
  • Obtain organic certification for your baobab and look for buyers specialising in organic products. Having organic certification gives your ingredients more credibility and makes them more competitive. You can also charge a premium for such ingredients.
  • If your baobab is not certified, promote the sustainable and ethical aspects of your production process. Buyers might ask you to substantiate your claims with certification or documentation on your sourcing practices or corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices.
  • See The Baobab Network and The African Baobab Alliance for more information on baobab production.
  • Read the CBI studies on Exporting baobab to Europe, as they provide further information about entering the European market and the European market potential.

Aloe vera

The global Aloe vera extract market was worth USD 1.6 billion in 2018 and was expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.6 percent to 2025. Drivers behind this include increasing consumer awareness of the health benefits of Aloe vera, which has been used in the treatment of, among other things, diabetes and skin diseases, as well as the growing demand from natural and organic cosmetic companies.

Aloe vera gel, extract and latex form (generally of pharmaceutical grade) are used in food supplements and pharmaceutical products because of its active components, which have a number of beneficial properties. Active constituents contained in Aloe vera include vitamins, enzymes, minerals, sugars, lignin, saponins, salicylic acids and amino acids.

Beneficial properties of Aloe vera’s active constituents include healing, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and anti-tumour properties, along with effects on the immune system and skin exposure to UV and gamma radiation. Aloe vera also has laxative, antiseptic, moisturising and anti-ageing effects. Aloe vera is well known by European consumers. European buyers and health product manufacturers are familiar with the properties and applications of Aloe vera.

Figures 9 and 10 show imports of vegetable saps and extracts with HS code 130219 to Europe. Aloe vera is traded under this HS code, but it contains other ingredients as well. The data shows that the import value and volume of HS code 130219 under which Aloe vera is traded increased between 2016 and 2020. Over this period, the value of imports increased by 55.8 percent, with volumes increasing by 41.8 percent.

In Europe, Aloe vera is cultivated in countries such as Spain, Italy and Greece; parts of these countries have suitable conditions for cultivation. However, to meet high demand, the European market is dependent on imports from non-EU countries. Brazil, China, the Dominican Republic, Egypt, India, Kenya, Mexico, Pakistan, South Africa, the USA and Vietnam are countries where Aloe vera is cultivated.

Fraud, quality issues and contamination are major problems in the Aloe vera market. Suppliers and producers of Aloe vera adulterate their products because of price pressure and to reduce costs. Thus, buyers are increasingly demanding certified organic products because they are a sign of quality. At the same time, there is a growing market for organic products in the European market, something expected to continue.

Exporters of Aloe vera in developing countries should therefore consider obtaining EU organic certification, as certified organic products are a sign of quality, traceability and sustainability. Having organic certification gives exporters an advantage in a competitive market, as it makes them stand out.

Aloe vera is used in nutraceuticals that improve digestive health and boost immunity. Growing health consciousness among European consumers is increasing demand for these products. This trend is expected to continue in the future. According to industry sources, the current COVID-19 pandemic has increased demand for Aloe vera, as it is often used in hand sanitisers.

Tips:

  • Read the CBI studies on Exporting Aloe vera to Europe, as they provide further information about entering the European market and the European market potential.
  • Obtain organic certification for your Aloe vera and look for buyers specialising in organic products. Having organic certification gives your ingredients greater credibility and makes them more competitive. You can also charge a premium for these ingredients.
  • If you supply other Aloe species, you should document and communicate how sustainable your products are. You will need to present a solid scenario to buyers if you want to compete with Aloe vera producers.
  • Describe the product identity and provide appropriate certificates of analysis to support your product specifications. This will help build trust with potential buyers.
  • Inform your buyer of any substances, such as preservatives, you add to your products. Indicating this in your product information is 1 way to do this.

Moringa

The global market for moringa products was valued at USD 5.5 billion in 2018 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.9 percent to USD 10 billion in 2025. Demand for moringa is growing in the nutraceutical, food and cosmetics sectors. Europe has the largest market for moringa products, partly because of their use in food supplements in Western Europe. Driven by Germany, France, the UK and Italy, the value of the European moringa ingredient market may exceed USD 2 billion by 2025.

Moringa contains vitamin A, vitamin B1, folate, calcium, potassium, iron and zinc. It is also used in weight loss supplements. Moringa is only produced in India and some parts of Africa. Roughly 80 percent of global supply comes from India. Cambodia, Ghana, Haiti, Kenya, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda and South Africa are other producers of moringa.

Figure 12 shows that the value of imports of HS code 1219086 for other medical plants and parts of plants under which moringa is traded to Europe increased between 2016 and 2020. Figure 11 shows that the volume of imports of HS code 1219086 for other medical plants and parts of plants under which moringa is traded to Europe increased over the same period. From 2016-2020, the value of imports increased by 32.5 percent, with volumes increasing by 14.2 percent.

Figure 14 shows that the value of imports of HS code 07129090 for other dried vegetables and mixtures of vegetables under which moringa is traded to Europe increased from 2016 to 2020. Figure 13 shows that the volume of imports of HS code 07129090 for other dried vegetables and mixtures of vegetables under which moringa is traded to Europe increased over the same period. Between 2016 and 2020, the value of imports increased by 105.1 percent, whilst volumes increased by 2.3 percent.

Moringa cultivation is a profitable business for growers in developing countries, especially since the European supply of moringa is heavily dependent on imports from outside the EU. However, price is a major challenge for new suppliers. Indian suppliers can offer moringa at competitive prices because of large-scale production. The relatively low consumer awareness of moringa is also limiting market growth.

According to industry experts, the lack of awareness among consumers is a major constraint on growth in the European moringa market. However, it is expected that this will gradually improve in the future.

The demand for organic moringa is also increasing because of growing consumer demand for organic products and products which offer health benefits. The demand for moringa is expected to continue to increase in the future. So as an exporter of moringa, consider getting organic certification, because it will increase your chances of entering the European market. Additionally, certified organic products are a sign of quality, traceability and sustainability.

Figure 15: Moringa

Moringa

Source: Source: Rostovtsevayu / Shutterstock.com

Tips:

  • Check with your buyers if they require certification of food safety management, and find out which food safety management systems they prefer.
  • Do not make medicinal claims if you are targeting buyers in the food supplements industry.
  • Obtain organic certification for your moringa and look for buyers specialising in organic products. Having organic certification gives your ingredients more credibility and makes them more competitive. You can also charge a premium for such ingredients.
  • See the CBI studies on Exporting moringa to Europe, which provide further information about entering the European market and the market potential.
  • Educate potential buyers on the uses of moringa to help them promote moringa effectively and expand interest in it in the European market. Show them 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.

Seaweeds and algae products

The global algae products market had an estimated value of USD 9.9 billion in 2018. The global market is expected to grow steadily at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7 percent to USD 14.99 billion by 2024. There is growing demand from the supplements sector as well as the pharmaceutical sector. Dried spirulina is the largest market segment, with about 12 thousand tonnes being produced every year.

Spirulina and chlorella are the most popular micro algae used in nutraceuticals. Astaxanthin, beta carotene and omega-3 fatty acids are among the substances derived from algae. In pharmaceuticals, algae are used as antimicrobials, antivirals and antifungals, antioxidants and antitumor and anti-diabetic agents.

The European market for spirulina is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.7 percent to 2025. Spirulina has a wide range of applications and health benefits. Demand for spirulina is driven by rising consumer awareness of its health benefits and growing demand for healthier products.

Approximately 70 percent of the world’s spirulina is produced in China, India and Taiwan. Other producers include the United States, Thailand, Pakistan, South Africa and Myanmar. Spirulina production is also promoted by various governmental initiatives in India and South Africa. Producers in developing countries have ample opportunities to supply spirulina to Europe.

Chlorella is the second-most important micro algae. According to the Pharma Innovation Journal, approximately 5 thousand tonnes of chlorella are produced per year. According to Market Data Forecast, the global chlorella market is expected to grow by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.4 percent to USD 210.5 million in 2025. Chlorella is in demand because of its health properties; it can help remove heavy metals and ash content from the human body.

However, demanding production methods associated with chlorella place major constraints on the supply. This is because these processes require carbonated water and artificial light, which are relatively expensive and lead to higher prices, so further research is required to improve production methods. Low consumer awareness of the health benefits of chlorella also limits market growth.

Figure 17 shows that the value of imports of HS code 1212210000, seaweeds and other algae fit for human consumption, to Europe increased from 2016 to 2020. Figure 16 shows that the volume of HS code 1212210000, seaweeds and other algae fit for human consumption, to Europe decreased over the same period. Between 2016 and 2020, the value of imports increased by 5.1 percent whilst the volume decreased by 28.7 percent.

Several other species of seaweeds and algae are traded under HS code 1212210000; this therefore does not reflect the value and volume of spirulina and chlorella imported over this period.

The popularity of edible algae, such as spirulina and chlorella, is increasing in Europe. The versatility of edible seaweed, the high content of vitamins and minerals and their antiviral, antimicrobial and antifungal properties, as well as their high protein content, make them an attractive ingredient for health products.

The ageing population in Europe, as well as increasing popularity of vegan and vegetarian lifestyles, is driving demand for edible seaweed, such as spirulina and chlorella, in Europe.

There is growing consumer demand for organic products throughout Europe, a trend expected to continue. Many European buyers are therefore demanding organic spirulina and chlorella for their natural health products. This was mentioned by buyers in interviews. Thus, exporters of spirulina and/or chlorella should consider getting organic certification, as it will increase their chances of entering the European market.

Demand for environmentally and socially produced products from consumers and retailers is increasing across Europe. As a result, environmental and social aspects are becoming more important to European buyers as they look to meet this demand.

Seaweed offers several environmental benefits. For example, seaweeds absorb CO2 from the atmosphere and reduce the acidification of water. Seaweed production is also less intensive on resources such as agricultural land and water. It can also provide an alternative livelihood to coastal communities. With most fisheries depleted, seaweed cultivation can present new employment opportunities.

The sustainability aspect of seaweed production will gain importance in the future. As European consumers look for environmentally friendly products, seaweed’s low environmental footprint will become more attractive to European buyers and consumers. Exporters of spirulina and/or chlorella in developing countries should adopt environmentally and socially friendly practices. They could look at adopting a Corporate Social Responsibility policy for their production process.

Figure 18: Chlorella tablets and powder

Chlorella tablets and powder

Source: Jiri Hera / Shutterstock.com

Tips:

  • Target Western European importers. France and Italy are the largest importers of seaweed from developing countries, and the markets for seaweed in the United Kingdom and Germany are growing.
  • If your seaweed is not certified, promote the sustainable and ethical aspects of your production process. Buyers might ask you to substantiate your claims with certification or documentation on your sourcing practices and sustainability practices. For example, the Aquaculture Stewardship Council has a sustainable seaweed standard.
  • See the CBI studies on Exporting seaweeds to Europe, which provide further information about entering the European market and the market potential. See the CBI report on exporting seaweed for health products to Europe.

This study has been carried out on behalf of CBI by Ecovia Intelligence.

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An importer of edible seaweed and algae stated: We see a very strong demand on the German market, and we also have customers from Spain, France and other European countries. However, we see the strongest demand coming from Germany.