Polyphenols, chemical compounds in tea that function as antioxidants, have been cited by many researchers as a possible source of tea’s many health benefits. The powerful potential of these chemicals has been recognized by the food and beverage industry and tea polyphenols are now finding their way into many “functional” foods and beverages.
A report released by Grand View Research suggests that the market for tea polyphenols will reach $367.7 million by 2020, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.3%. By 2020, worldwide demand is predicted to reach 9,170 tons.
In 2012, nearly 40% of the polyphenols in the market were funneled into “functional beverages.” Functional beverages include energy drinks, enhanced waters and RTD beverages that include vitamins, minerals, herbs and other additions aimed at improving health. “Functional foods,” consumables fortified with vitamins and other additives intended to benefit health, accounted for 30% of the market.
Last year, 70% of the existing polyphenol market was derived from green tea, which contains particularly high levels of water-extractable catechins, flavanols and other polyphenols. Oolong tea-derived polyphenols were the second largest source, followed by black tea.
The increased demand is attributed to increasing customer awareness of the potential health benefits. Aging populations in Japan and Western Europe are also driving interest.
Mark Blumenthal, executive director of the American Botanical Council told NutraIngredients.com that he is cautious about tea polyphenols as a panacea, warning that there is a great deal of research still to be done, both examining the health impact of polyphenols in isolation versus from full tea consumption and also looking at some of the potentially negative health impact of overuse. However, he anticipates watching a growing industry. “…Green tea as a beverage has been so clearly effective that I do believe there is compelling evidence that warrants more research into green tea as an extract, as a beverage as well as the green tea polyphenols in their isolated form.”
More information is available from Grand View Research.