Year of change for prenatal supplements

Prenatal supplementation is one of the most established areas in the industry, yet it is still undergoing dynamic development. The driving force behind this is high consumer interest, backed by recommendations from gynecologists and global health organizations. It also seems that 2020 will also have its specific effect. The sector is more important than ever because in many parts of the world it is currently very difficult to consult doctors. Therefore, the emphasis on prevention is much higher.

Sales of prenatal supplements were already projected show substantial growth (8% CAGR between 2020 and 2024) in early 2020. The exact effects of the pandemic on the projections remain to be seen, but there are indicators of consumer interest that are increasing even in 2020. For example, Google searches for the term “prenatal supplement” has increased by 22% since the beginning of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.

So what has changed? Although we may have previously perceived prenatal health as more targeted to the specific physiology of women, the global pandemic crisis and focus on immunity has also brought a different aspect to these products. For example, pregnant women have quite specific nutritional needs, are more prone to deficiencies in micronutrients like iron, and can benefit from vitamins like C and D. In light of the pandemic, these micronutrients have come to light due to their role in immunity. . Some of our partners who have previously launched prenatal supplements in their markets have adapted to the situation and launched educational campaigns highlighting the role in immunity of certain micronutrients included. With appropriate communication and positioning, we can support an already susceptible population to fill their gaps, improve their general state of health and ensure that they are best prepared to face pathogens.

One trend that was evident even before the pandemic was the acceleration of prenatal supplements, from mostly simple multivitamins to complex products with branded and researched ingredients. The latter are even more and more put forward in B2C communication, because it seems that brands capture the proactivity of consumers and the search for product constituents. We are now seeing even the top prenatal supplement brands feature ingredient brands on product packaging.

In terms of formulation trends, it seems that formulations complete with iron, folate, DHA, vitamins, other minerals, and sometimes lutein and choline, all in one dosage, are becoming the standard for market leading products. It should be noted, however, that the amounts of ingredients present at the end of the shelf life of these complex formulations are debatable. Proven ingredient stability is not required by the vast majority of regulatory authorities and so there is no immediate factor compelling brands to invest in stability testing and stable product development. PharmaLinea R&D has discovered that many of today’s most popular ingredients – folate, iron, DHA and lutein – are prone to cross-interactions, especially in the increasingly popular user-friendly product forms of today. Unless they have been rigorously researched and adapted during development, supplements are likely to provide fewer and fewer of the listed ingredients and provide their claimed effects as the shelf life progresses. We anticipate that in the future, as consumer demands for transparency increase and pharmaceutical companies raise industry standards, being able to demonstrate the stability of complex prenatal supplements will become a key advantage.

Finally, an obvious direction for pregnancy-related supplements in the future seems to be the specific targeting of distinct stages of pregnancy and beyond. Supplements can not only meet specific nutritional needs in distinct pregnancy trimesters, but also in women trying to conceive and mothers after birth. The same product line can support women throughout their journey, and positive consumer experiences with a brand can last well beyond birth. Ultimately, we believe companies will develop more products to support women through motherhood as a period of life. Lifestyle products, targeting stress, sleep, immunity, general well-being… the positioning is as numerous as the heightened physiological stresses that mothers experience in today’s fast-paced world.

Jernej Klopčič built his academic career by enhancing his education in science and engineering with an additional degree in international business, complete with honors and special achievement awards. By applying his multidisciplinary knowledge, he developed his professional journey from product development to product marketing and eventually to business development. As Director of Business Development at PharmaLinea Ltd.Klopčič uses his experience gained in leadership roles in market-leading consumer products companies and delivers excellence rooted in his understanding of consumer and customer needs.

Patricia J. Callender