Growing market: CJ Wellcare extends blood sugar management offerings with two launches in a month

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

BYOCORE Blood Sugar Care is the latest launch by CJ Wellcare. ©  CJ Wellcare
BYOCORE Blood Sugar Care is the latest launch by CJ Wellcare. © CJ Wellcare

Related tags Blood glucose levels Blood sugar Diabetes banaba leaf MFDS

Major South Korean supplement firm CJ Wellcare is adding to its blood sugar management portfolio, with two successive health functional foods launched this month, as it hopes to tap on a market that had expanded 18 per cent year-on-year.

Corosolic acid extracted from banaba leaves is the star ingredient contained in both of its new launches.

BYOCORE Blood Sugar Care, its latest launch announced on May 29, contains 1.3mg of corosolic acid.

This is the maximum daily intake set by the MFDS. A capsule is to be taken before mealtimes.

A study by Judy et al​ ​ found that daily intake of 0.48mg of corosolic acid could reduce blood glucose levels by 30 per cent after two weeks. The study involved 10 type II diabetic patients.

The product also contains three probiotic strains for intestinal health, namely Lactobacillus plantarum​ CJLP243, Lactobacillus rhamnosus ​GG, and Bifidobacterium lactis​ LAFTI B94.

“'BYOCORE Blood Sugar Care/Lactic Acid Bacteria' is a product that allows you to easily manage your gut health and blood sugar levels with just one capsule before a meal.  

“We will continue to provide more diverse products for consumers to live healthy lives in the future,”​ said Lee Gyu-jin, head of CJ Wellcare's marketing team.

The launch happened within a month after Fatdown Slimming Shot​ – its pill and shot health functional food that similarly contains corosolic acid for post-meal blood sugar management.

The company’s successive launches are in response to a growing interest in blood sugar management, and a sector that had grown 18 per cent between 2021 and 2022.

“As blood sugar management has emerged as a recent health trend, the health functional food industry continues to introduce functional products that suppress the rise in blood sugar levels after meals.

“According to the Korea Health Functional Foods Association, the number of adults aged 30 or older in Korea with diabetes or pre-diabetes is approximately 20 million, and as of 2022, the market for blood sugar products has gradually expanded to KRW 46.4 billion (US$338.8m), an 18 per cent increase from the previous year,” ​said the firm.

Banaba leaves extract is also used in products developed by Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI)​ and India’s Esperer Nutrition​ for the same purpose.

Another commonly used blood sugar management ingredient is perhaps white mulberry leaf extract marketed as Reducose by UK life science firm Phynova.

The ingredient, said to inhibit the breakdown of carbohydrates and sucrose, has been used in products formulated by Nestle Health Science​ and healthy longevity nutraceutical firm AVEA.

MFDS: Banaba leaf extract is not for treating, preventing diabetes

With rising interest in blood sugar management, South Korea’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) is warning companies advertising health functional foods against making diabetes prevention or treatment claims.

It gave the example of banaba leaf extract.

While it should not make disease related claims, health functional foods containing banaba leaf extract are permitted to make the functional claim “help suppress the rise in blood sugar level after a meal”. ​This has been allowed since year 2008. 

The warning came on last Wednesday (May 29), when the MFDS released findings of its recent inspection of online advertisements related to diabetic products, including “diabetes supplements”, “diabetes improvers”, and “diabetes medicine”.

Out of the 200 advertisements examined, 177 were found to have violated the Act on Labelling and Advertising of Foods.

As many as 98.8 per cent of the 177 advertisements were found to have misled and confused consumers that general foods and health functional foods are effective in preventing and treating diseases, including diabetes.

The remaining two cases (1.2 per cent) had either misled consumers to view health functional foods as medicines or general foods as health functional foods.

“As a result of this inspection, many unfair advertisements were detected for health functional foods, such as those containing banaba leaf extract, which made people believe that they were effective and effective in preventing and treating diseases such as diabetes, rather than having functional contents recognised by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety,”​ it said.

Indigestible maltodextrin is another ingredient recognised by the South Korean authority for its function in suppressing post-meal blood sugar rise.

The inspection was carried out in view of rising interest in diabetes and blood sugar management, said the MFDS.

“Recently, as interest in diabetes and blood sugar management has increased, cases of unfair advertising have occurred, such as advertising food or health functional foods as effective in preventing or treating diabetes, and the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety has conducted special inspections to prevent damage to consumers.”

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