Tea polyphenols are chemical compounds – antioxidants such as flavonoids and tannins – that occur naturally in tea, and are believed to be beneficial to human health.
Green tea contains between 30-40% of water extractable polyphenols, black tea (green tea that has been oxidized by fermentation) has 3-10%, Oolong is a semi-fermented and lies between the two.
Polyphenols in tea have been linked with everything from weight loss to Alzheimer’s protection and a lower risk of cancers.
For example, an October 2013 study in the Journal of Dairy Sciencefound that skimmed milk increased the bioavailability of the major extractable polyphenol in green tea, EGCG, which has is linked to reduced colon cancer cell growth.
High consumption in Asia
Developing consumer awareness on the benefits of tea polyphenols will drive sales up to around 9,170 tons. Grand View Research says in its new global research report on the sector, where the market is currently dominated by green tea polyphenols at 70%+ of the market.
High in polyphenols such as catechins and flavanols, green tea can be used to treat diabetes and obesity, and is expected to be the fastest growing polyphenol product to 2020, with an 8.3% CAGR between 2013 and 2020.
“Green tea polyphenols are highly attractive owing to ease of availability and their high consumption in Asian countries,” Grand View said, noting that Japan and China are large supply regions.
Green tea polyphenols accounted for more than two thirds of the market in 2012 (versus 16% for nearest rival Oolong) due to its high extractable polyphenol content over other tea polyphenols.
Functional drinks dominate demand
Functional beverages dominate demand for tea polyphenols (40% in 2012 versus functional food on 30%) and are expected to be the fastest growing application segment at 8.6% CAGR from 2013-2020.
Asia-Pacific dominates the global market (40% of demand in 2012) and Grand View said that aging populations, mainly in Japan, and increased consumer spend on nutraceuticals in China was driving the regional market for tea polyphenols.
“Owing to this, Asia-Pacific is also expected to be the fastest-growing market for tea polyphenols at an estimated CAGR of 9.2% from 2013-2020,” Grand View’s analysts wrote.
Asia-Pacific is followed by Europe and North America, that together account for half of the world market in 2012; major manufacturers of tea polyphenols include Naturex, Ajinomoto Omnichem Natural Specialties, Indena SPA.