Demand for plant-derived chemicals in the US is expected to rise by 6.8 per cent per year, including price increases, to $2.7 billion (€2.5bn) in 2006.
Gains will be spurred by strong growth in demand for bulk botanical extracts used in herbal supplements as well as the ongoing discovery and development of new chemicals and pharmaceuticals derived from plants, claims a new report from market research firm The Freedonia Group.
Advances in biotechnology which is aiming to increase yields, improve purity and fine-tune extract compositions will also contribute to growth across the different markets served by the plant-derived chemicals industry, continues the report. However future labelling policies for genetically modified (GM) materials may impact product preferences.
The report, 'Plant-Derived Chemicals', estimates that the primary factor limiting growth of plant-derived chemicals will be competition from lower cost synthetic materials, but it adds that volatile petroleum prices could reduce the cost advantage of synthetic alternatives, therefore improving the competitive position of natural products in a number of applications (from flavouring of foods and beverages to manufacture of phenolic resins).
The dietary supplements market is expected to record strong growth, finds the report, with annual advances of over 8 per cent. This is notably slower than in the 1990s when nutraceuticals first moved from the health food stores to the shelves of mass market retailers. The use of plant-derived chemicals in pharmaceuticals will also record robust gains of 9.4 per cent annually through 2006.
Some of the smaller-volume extracts, such as lutein and phytoestrogens used in herbal supplements, will see double-digit rates through 2006. And plant acids used in cosmeceuticals, and multifunctional plant derivatives such as lycopene and anthocyanin, will register growth nearing 8 per cent annually through 2006.
In the future, Freedonia says we will see the engineering of plant-derived chemicals using biotechnology accelerating the discovery of new products and expanding markets. For example, commercial scale-up is underway for production of aprotinin from transgenic corn. This protease inhibitor is used to prevent blood loss in cardiac surgery and is normally extracted from bovine lungs. However, the report cautions that such bio-engineering advances could be tempered by a backlash against GM products.