August 24/San Jose, Cal./PRWEB -- Rising health concerns among consumers and inclination to look good through healthy dietary habits have sparked demand for functional foods and nutritional supplements. One of the most prominent nutritional and dietary supplements gaining impetus globally is conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), perceived as a panacea for several modern-day ills. The polyunsaturated fatty acid has been around for more than three decades now, and over the last few years has gained considerable ground as an effective weight management ingredient. Until a few years ago, CLA was largely used as dietary supplement, but with the increasing demand for fortified food products, CLA is finding usage as a functional ingredient in the food & beverage industry. The recent spurt in interest is credited to a large body of clinical evidence pointing to CLA's weight control properties.

CLA is emerging as a potential ingredient in the weight management market worldwide, as obesity rates are on the rise not only in the high income western countries by also in developing countries. In addition to the primary weight loss solution, CLA is also known for other medical benefits such as cancer fighting properties, muscle strengthening, improved metabolic functioning and blood sugar regulation among others. CLA is also witnessing heightened usage in the animal feed industry, primarily for enhancing the quality of meat and dairy products and protection of animals against diseases. The commercially available CLA, sold as an ingredient, is primarily sourced from natural safflower/sunflower oil. This 'natural' characteristic of the ingredient is further expected to appeal to a large number of consumers who are increasingly turning away from artificial or synthetic products.

The market for CLA although robustly positioned as a niche ingredient in the dietary supplements market, is still in a nascent stage of development, particularly with respect to other end-use areas, namely functional foods and animal feed. The U.S. and Europe represent the leading markets for CLA, collectively accounting for a majority share of the global market. With more than half the population (65%) in the U.S. regarded as overweight, it is no surprise that the region is fuelling the maximum demand for CLA in the present scenario. Post the generally recognized as safe (GRAS) status from the U.S. FDA, CLA-fortified foods have already hit the market shelves in the region. Although CLA has a stronghold in the European market, its usage in food products relies solely on the Novel Food approval issued by regulatory authority in the country. In addition, lack of sufficient scientific backing for the health claims, poor consumer awareness, unnecessary hype, low turnaround time and consumer skepticism are few of the potential hazards, challenging CLA's widespread acceptance in all market worldwide.

The U.S. dominates the global scenario as the single largest market for conjugated linoleic acid, as stated by the Global Industry Analysts’ new research report on “Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA).” High obesity rates and wide consumer acceptance make the CLA ingredient a viable option in the nutritional supplements market in the US. The Asia-Pacific market presently accounts for a minor share of the global market, but is expected to display potential for rapid growth and development. Increasing adoption of western lifestyles, unhealthy eating habits and rising number of overweight individuals pose potential health risks and can be a burden to the country's exchequer. The CLA market in Asia-Pacific is projected to witness fast track growth at a sturdy CAGR of more than 18% through 2017.


From the August 24, 2011, Prepared Foods' Daily News.