Chengdu Kindarco Biotech Co, Ltd.
Chengdu Kindarco Biotech Co, Ltd.

The Development of Plant Extracts Ushered in a Bright Moment

With people's continued attention to natural health products, the plant extracts industry is ushering in a bright moment. According to statistics, from 2014 to 2018, the global growth rate of food and beverages using plant ingredients has reached 8%. Latin America is the main growth market for this segment, with a compound annual growth rate of 24% during this period, followed by Australia and Asia with 10% and 9% respectively. In the market category, sauces and condiments account for the most market share. In 2018, this field accounted for 20% of the market share of global plant ingredient application, followed by ready-to-eat foods and side dishes of 14%, snacks of 11%, meat products and eggs of 9% and baked goods of 9%. In addition, the field of sports nutrition has become one of the fastest growing market categories for plant ingredients. Driven by the growth of plant supplements, the compound annual growth rate of this field in 2018 was 25%, followed by 22% of the alcoholic beverage category.

1. Plant extracts are versatile and widely used

Plant extracts are based on plants as raw materials. According to the needs of the final product extracted, through physical and chemical extraction and separation processes, one or more active ingredients in the plant are obtained and concentrated, without changing the structure of the active ingredients. The formed products can be used as raw materials and widely used in downstream industries such as food, beverages, medicine, health care products, and cosmetics, for example, plant extracts for skin care.

There are many types of plant extracts, and there are many ways to classify them. According to the content of its active ingredients, it can be divided into three types: effective monomer extract, standard extract and ratio extract; According to its composition, it can be divided into glycosides, acids, polyphenols, polysaccharides, terpenes, flavonoids, alkaloids, etc.; According to its product form, it can be divided into vegetable oil, extract, powder, lens, etc.; According to its users, it can be divided into natural pigment products, traditional Chinese medicine extract products, extract products and concentrated products.

At present, there are nearly 100 kinds of plant extracts popular in the world, including extraction of antioxidants: grape seed extract, green tea extract, pine bark extract; 

Immunomodulators: ginseng extract, Gynostemma pentaphyllum extract, Ganoderma lucidum extract, etc.; Improve cardiovascular functions: Ginkgo biloba extract, lotus seed heart extract, rhodiola extract, etc.; Tranquilizers: valerian extract, hop extract, etc.; Natural pigments: lycopene, purple potato extract, etc.; Functional sweeteners: licorice extract, stevia extract, etc.

Plant extracts are diverse in types and diversified in functions. They can be roughly divided into five categories: Coloring, flavor output, pharmacological effects, health care functions, and application as dietary supplements.

Plant pigments are the main components of the color of plants, and some plants are extremely rich in pigment content and can be used for pigment extraction. There are dozens of plant pigments available in China, such as curcumin, safflower yellow, red radish, beet red, sorghum red, capsicum red and so on.

Plant extracts are often rich in characteristic components, which can effectively stimulate the senses, such as sweeteners and volatile substances. Natural sweeteners are currently popular as a new type in the market. It not only has outstanding sweetness but also is an ideal substitute for sucrose with significant health effects, such as steviol glycosides and mogrosides. Essential oils are concentrated volatile substances, which are often used in the preparation of fragrances and also the industry with the lowest application threshold in plant extracts and have small regulatory restrictions.

The use of Chinese herbal preparations has a long history. In recent years, driven by the concept of Chinese medicine, it has developed rapidly at present.

The components in plant extracts include glycosides, acids, polyphenols, polysaccharides, terpenoids, flavonoids, alkaloids and so on. Most of these ingredients have been proved to have biological activity in the research, and have an effect on human health that cannot be ignored. The development of their health functions has become the mainstream application trend of plant extracts.

In addition, most of the prebiotics used as food additives are derived from plants, such as inulin, oligofructose, glucomannan, soybean oligosaccharides, dietary fibre and gums.

2. The export market for plant extracts is rising

In recent years, the plant extracts industry has ushered in a period of the rapid growth, especially in developed countries and regions such as Europe and the United States. The demand for plant extracts has grown steadily, which has stimulated the development of the industry. Chengdu Kindarco Biotech, as one of the plant extract manufacturers, has made great progress in the field of plant extracts. 

According to the analysis of Markets and Markets, in 2019, the global plant extracts market was valued at approximately 23.7 billion U.S. dollars and is expected to reach 59.4 billion U.S. dollars by 2025, with a compound annual growth rate of 16.5%.

China is rich in plant resources, among which more than 300 types can be used for plant extracts. As the world's major exporter of plant extracts, China's plant extracts exports have continued to rise in recent years, setting a record high of US$2.368 billion in 2018, a year-on-year increase of 17.79%. According to customs statistics, in 2019, China's export volume of Chinese medicine products was 40.2, a year-on-year increase of 2.8%. Among them, the largest proportion of plant extracts in 2019 was 2.37 billion U.S. dollars, a year-on-year increase of only 0.2%; The export volume was 86,900 tons, an increase of 5.68% year-on-year; The export price was US$27.3/kg, down 5.19% year-on-year.

As society pays more and more attention to food and drug safety, a large number of edible and safe plant extracts with certain nutritional functions have been used as raw materials, and they have been made into nutritional functional foods and health foods in various ways into people's lives. The strong demand of the market has driven the rapid development of the industry, but there are still many problems that need to be solved urgently in the industry.

The first is the restrictions of different countries' laws and regulations. Different countries have different requirements for plant extracts and product applications. For example, North America mainly uses dietary supplements; Europe mainly uses health products and plant medicines; China uses traditional Chinese medicine and food additives. The quality standards of plant extracts are vague, and the difference in use directly affects the applicability of the types of raw materials. Only the categories that meet the requirements can enter the market, which is very restrictive.

The second is the uneven distribution of industrial processing. Due to the limitation of technical conditions, China mainly focuses on crude extracts, and the in-depth development is not ideal due to the limitations of technology and regulations, and it lacks international competitiveness.

The third is the imperfect supporting system. As an emerging industry in China, a considerable part of plant extracts do not have corresponding production standards and regulations and lack of effective supervision, and product quality is uneven. There is still a long way to go on the road to satisfactory industry standards.

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