Focus on nutraceutical products (2024)

Alongside the pharmaceutical sector, also the subject of ever-increasing attention, there is the category of nutraceutical products, that is to say, all those food supplements which, while not drugs, are in any case used as a remedy for various health problems.

Probiotics, vitamins and other fundamental nutritional elements in diets that are not ingested directly from food, but through supplements in which the nutritious substances are highly concentrated, fall into this category. More specifically, nutraceutical products include probiotics, antioxidants, polysaturated fatty acids (omega-3, omega-6), vitamins and enzyme complexes... These products are mainly used to prevent chronic diseases, improve the state of health, slow down the ageing process and increase life expectancy. Nutraceutical products are mainly sold in chemists (77.6%) and para-pharmacies (8%). Another distribution channel is that of mass retail, with a share of 7.4% which is growing, and lastly with sales online (7%). (Source: Italian Food Union) The turnover of the sector in Italy has now exceeded 4.5 billion euros and, in 2023, production grew by around 5%. With regards the number of packages, the sector shows a growth of 4% compared to 2022 and an average annual growth rate from 2016 to 2023 of +4.9%.

Table 1. The nutraceutical products market: product segmentation. Values in millions of units, year 2023.
  Milioni di pezzi  %
Probiotics  36.4 11.70%
Mineral salts 21.5 6.90%
Lipid therapy 18.4 5.90%
Vitamins  18.1 5.80%
Tonics  15.9 5.10%
Night sleep 14.3 4.60%
Immune functions 13.1 4.20%
Bowel functions 12.5 4.00%
Multivitamins and multi-minerals  12.5 4.00%
Joint health 11.5 3.70%
Other* 137.3 44.10%
Total  311.4 100.00%
*Cardiac system, genital system, respiratory system, analgesics, sedatives, etc... Source: Unione Italiana Food

The packaging. According to analyses taken from the Italian Packaging Institute’s Data Bank, the packaging mix of the over 311 million packages of nutraceutical with reference to 2023 is subdivided as follows:

  • 44% of the packages used in the sector are plastic/aluminium blisters for capsules or tablets;
  • plastic jars and bottles account for 36.5%;
  • at 13.5% e find glass jars and bottles;
  • sachets in laminated material represent 5.5% of packages;
  • aluminium tubes have a share of 0.5%.

The quantity of packaging involved in the nutraceutical area has reached 13,600 tonnes, including secondary packaging, transport packaging and accessories.

Table 2. Packaging mix of nutraceutical products. % values referring to the quantity of packaged product, year 2023.
Blisters (ALL/PVC e ALL/ALL) 44.00%
Plastic jars and flacons  36.00%
Glass flacons both standard and small 13.50%
Laminated pouches (CA+ALL+PE) 5.50%
Rigid aluminium tubes 0.50%
Total  100.00%
Source: Elaborazioni Istituto Italiano Imballaggio su dati Quintiles Multichannel View Nutraceutica.
Figure 1. Nutraceuticals consumption trends from 2016-2023. Values in millions of units.

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