Region/Countries: Asia, South Korea Industry: Food and Beverage, Other Date: August 2019

Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Supplements and food ingredients that target eye health, joint health and menopause are in particular demand.

As the Baby Boomers age, the number of active seniors with time and money to spare is rising. According to the Korea Development Bank Research Institute, the number of South Korea’s population aged 65 or older stands at 7.7 million as of this year and accounts for approximately 15% of the total population.

The Korea Health Industry Promotion Agency predicts that the size of the "silver industry" market, which was worth $27.3 billion in 2010 and nearly quadrupled to $56.1 billion in 2015, will grow to $103 billion by 2020. With the rising number of senior citizens, the nutritional supplement industry is launching customized brands that align with health trends that are of interest to active seniors, including eye health, joint health and menopause. Older generations of seniors preferred Eastern medicine to prevent diseases; however, seniors today prefer to take medications approved by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety.

Lutein and Zeaxanthin are among the most popular functional ingredients in supplements as the number of senior citizens with eye disorders, particularly glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy, rises. Lutein is a constituent of sulfur but cannot be synthesized in the body; therefore, Lutein needs to be supplemented from an outside source. As eye disorders that lead to vision loss increase in the older population, products that utilize raw materials to aid eye health are in demand, and manufacturers are constantly releasing new ones.

Furthermore, the market for supplements that target the symptoms of menopause has grown immensely. According to the Korea Health Functional Food Association, the percentage of women who said they consume nutritional supplements for health care and symptom prevention during menopause increased from 23% in 2016 to 39% last year. The number of products released for women in menopause is expected to increase through 2030.

As the elderly population grows, the demand for senior nutritional supplement products will continue to grow as well. Due to increasing interest and demand for these products, Wisconsin manufacturers of supplements and/or functional ingredients can find a welcoming market in South Korea.