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‘More evidence’ of green tea’s slimming potential needed to boost products beyond Japan

By Gary Scattergood+

Last updated on 10-Jan-2017 at 02:57 GMT2017-01-10T02:57:48Z

Consumers outside Japan still need convincing of green tea's weight loss potential. ©iStock
Consumers outside Japan still need convincing of green tea's weight loss potential. ©iStock

The status of green tea as a slimming ingredient in Japan should provide inspiration for companies elsewhere who are looking to use the product across the weight loss category, according to new market research.

Research from Mintel shows that botanical claims are on the rise for weight loss supplements, but consumers are still seeking more information and proof around the efficacy of herbal remedies.

“Over the past five years, between 2011 and October 2016, claims that are related to naturalness, such as botanical/herbal and no additives / preservatives, have grown in the weight loss supplements category,” the market research company revealed in a recent Product Innovation report.

The percentage of weight loss vitamins and supplements with a botanical/herbal claim has increased 16 points during this time, while no additives/preservative claims have increased two points and organic claims increased three points.”

It pointed out that in recent years, natural and botanical ingredients in other categories have increasingly garnered a healthy image with consumers.

“For example, 28% of US adults consider a food unhealthy if it has artificial ingredients, according to Eating Trends:Spotlight on Real – US, September 2016.

“According to Attitudes towards Healthy Eating - UK, February 2016, 38% of UK consumers agree that natural is an important factor when looking for healthy foods.”

However, it is Japan which is leading the way with green teas specifically for slimming.

“Much has been written about the benefits of the antioxidants in green tea. Polyphenols in tea include catechins, which include epigallocatechinsgallate (EGCG), epicatechin (EC), epigallocatechin (EGC) and epicatechingallate (ECG),” the report adds.

“Catechins, in particular EGCG, have been linked with weight loss and have been studied extensively. While they are yet to gain European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) approval for weight loss claims, they have developed something of a health halo and have been used in slimming teas, especially in Japan.”

Proof test

The report’s author, Stephanie Mattucci, adds that the positioning of green tea as a slimming ingredient in Japan should provide inspiration for firms in the West, but she adds that consumers are actively looking for concrete evidence of its success.

“While botanical ingredients may appeal to consumers as a natural alternative, consumers still want more information and proof when it comes to homeopathic and herbal remedies. In the US, 35% of adults would like more clinical studies to prove their effectiveness and 31% would like more clinical studies to prove their safety.

“Indeed, 27% of US adults agree they don’t always trust alternative remedy claims. Weight loss supplements using botanical or herbal ingredients will need to establish trust with consumers and reassure consumers about the safety and efficacy of these products.”

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