This is according to data collated by China Nutrition and Health Food Association’s (CNHFA).
Based on the serial numbers of health foods approved via the filing route last year, the CNHFA said that there were 2,300 health foods approved last year.
Health foods filing requires companies to use raw materials listed in the Health Food Raw Materials Directory. Before new regulations kicks in this June, the directory was only made up of minerals and vitamins.
Health foods filing is a faster go-to-market strategy, where the approval process usually takes months, while the other option – the health foods registration track – could take years to complete.
The CNHFA said out of the 2,300 health foods approved via filing last year, most (48 per cent) were single nutrient products.
Another 22 per cent and 11 per cent were dual nutrients and triple nutrients formulas respectively.
In single-nutrient health foods, 43 per cent of them were vitamin C products, followed by 13 per cent of calcium products.
However, in health foods containing dual and triple nutrients, calcium was the most commonly used ingredient.
Out of the 295 health foods with dual nutrients, 55 per cent contained calcium, while 15 per cent contained vitamin C.
Common examples of dual nutrient formulas containing calcium were calcium with vitamin D or vitamin K. These are formulations for bone health.
As for dual nutrient formulas containing vitamin C, the most popular formulations contained vitamin C with either iron, vitamin E, selenium, vitamin K, or biotin.
In triple-nutrient formulations, calcium was again the most commonly used ingredient – as seen in 82 per cent of such products.
The most popular combinations were calcium with vitamin D and vitamin K, and calcium plus zinc and iron.
Fast NPD response
The report highlighted that the industry had promptly responded to market needs last year, with single nutrient health foods containing either vitamin C or zinc or vitamin D seeing a spike last year.
“Strengthening the immune system has become an important topic due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many local and overseas research has shown that vitamin C, zinc, and vitamin D can support immune health.
“This has in turn led to the increase in the number of single nutrient health foods containing either of these three nutrients. This also sufficiently reflected how product development has promptly reacted to market hotspots and market responses, and the filing route has [also] speed up new product launches,” said the report.
Zinc was the third most commonly used ingredient in single-nutrient health foods (nine per cent), followed by vitamin E (nine per cent), selenium (six per cent), and vitamin D (six per cent).
Less common single nutrient health foods, such as those using only beta-carotene, or vitamin B1, B2, B6, or pantothenic acid has also appeared in the market.
Out of the 368 health foods that have indicated the product flavours, most were orange-flavoured (36 per cent), followed by strawberry or blueberry flavours (21 per cent), and peach (eight per cent).
Milk/butter, lemon, apple, and cherry flavours also made it into the top eight list.
“With health foods coming in a plethora of flavours…this shows that consumers no longer have a single preference when it comes to product flavours.
“Instead, they are increasingly seeking health foods that are tasty and able to provide health benefits at the same time…This means that aside from focusing on the product’s functionality, [health foods companies] will also need to pay attention to the product flavour,” said the report.