Foods muscle in on antioxidants craze

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Cosmetic products, Antioxidant

Alongside antioxidant-rich cosmetic and supplment products,
antioxidant foods designed to help slow ageing are now exploding
onto the European market - a trend that many manufacturers believe
looks set to stay, report Dominique Patton and Simon Pitman.

Although scientists have recently disagreed with the theory that antioxidants fight the ageing process caused by damaging free radicals, consumers are still scrabbling to get their hands on any products containing antioxidant properties, whether it be supplements or cosmetic products. And now it is foods that are coming into the limelight.

A growing desire to maintain youthful looks means that consumers will latch onto any product associated with halting the ageing process. Consumers, it seems, just can't get enough of antioxidants.

With regards food, the last six months has seen a flurry of launches marketed with references to anti-ageing, including dairy products, chocolate bars, breads and hot and cold beverages.

"We are seeing more of these products in Europe than anywhere else,"​ said Lucy Cornford, research analyst at Mintel.

Europeans, increasingly interested in taking an active approach to their health, are also aware of the growing life expectancy and are looking to ensure better quality of life when older. In May leading dairy group Parmalat introduced a range of dairy products on the domestic market under the brand name 'Jeunesse', clearly targeting women aged 35-44 years old.

A milk, dairy-based fruit drink, yoghurt and dessert all contain the antioxidant CoQ10, more commonly found in anti-wrinkle creams.

"This is the first example from a mainstream company,"​ said Cornford.

"Antioxidant vitamins have long been added to food products but companies are making a bigger deal of this now,"​ she added. "Companies are really working on the assumption that the consumer knows about antioxidants and links them to anti-ageing."

Chocolate makers were among the first to counter the unhealthy image of confectionery with the natural antioxidants found in the main ingredient, cocoa.

Belgian firm New Tree promotes the rich polyphenol content on its products, while Germany's Sarotti also highlights the antioxidant levels of the Purpur range introduced in March.

The trend towards foods containing antioxidant and anti-ageing properties is further evidence that the boundaries between the cosmetics, supplement and food industries are blurring.

Many industry experts have highlighted this convergence in recent months, citing healthful food products, health products and functional cosmetics as the main areas. Indeed many believe that the rise of increasingly functional cosmetic products has been the precursor to this phenomenon.

Antioxidant-rich ingredients that have traditionally formed part of many foods - including olive oil, green tea, caffeine, berries such as bilberry and cranberry, together with a host of vitamins minerals and essential oils - have all been increasingly incorporated into cosmetics, supplements and foods with the aim of imparting anti-ageing properties.

Related topics: Formulation & Science

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