Growth in the market is also powered by other factors, such as aging population, greater spending power and the need to look youthful and attractive through safe and natural methods. Growing usage of L-carnitine in health drinks, medicines and food supplements has thrown light on the functional benefits of the ingredient. However on the flip side, allegations about the misleading and hyped health benefits and low consumer awareness have hampered fast track growth of the market, the report suggests.
L-carnitine, a specific kind of amino acid, has significant health-related benefits that help in enhancing overall quality of life. In the last few years, the ingredient has found extensive application in production of several kinds of energy drinks, drugs and functional foods, such as weight reducing capsules, effervescent tablets, chewing tablets, drinks and infant milk powder among others.
The energy and sports drinks and nutritional powders and drinks segments are two of the largest end-use markets for L-carnitine. In terms of derivatives, L-carnitine tartrate represents the largest potential market. Growing inclusion of L-carnitine in health drinks/food supplements and medicines has prompted the scientific community and food manufacturers to take note. Over the last several years, the global market has witnessed increasing number of new entrants. Untapped market potential is a major motivator for the existing players and aspiring entrants.
The L-carnitine market initially experienced strong growth in Japan, Italy, Switzerland, and the U.S., and at a much later stage in China. However in a short time span, Chinese manufacturers have seized the market reins, with China today dominating as one of the largest L-carnitine producers in the world at a production capacity of about 48% in the year 2008. Factors such as high quality standards, low prices and increasing manufacturing capacity are rapidly becoming the hallmark of Chinese producers, thereby posing a threat to other established players.
Government regulations with regard to the sales and promotion of L-carnitine differ from country-to-country across the world, and success and usage rates vary accordingly. Despite the health benefits, several doubts are increasingly being raised by scientists and regulatory authorities regarding the false and hyped health benefits of L-carnitine and its derivatives. In certain cases, L-carnitine health claims portrayed by the concerned manufacturers were found misleading based on false advertisements and public misinformation. In several developed markets such as Europe, there is mounting pressure from consumers as well as regulatory bodies for greater authentication and scientific validation to back the numerous wellness and health claims of products, be it for foods, drinks or supplements. In addition, short term market prospects are also dampened by factors such as low consumer awareness and understanding, inadequate brand promotion by manufacturers and positioning of L-carnitine as a niche market product.
The U.S. market driven by issues of obesity and related diseases, stands tall as the largest market for L-carnitine products. There is a growing propensity toward weight loss supplements and over-the-counter (OTC) dietary and functional food products, health drinks and powders. Europe and Asia-Pacific markets trail behind as other critical L-carnitine markets worldwide. Asia-Pacific, powered by rapid growth in China is forecast to accelerate expansion rate to a robust CAGR of 5.5% through 2017.