The global HMO market is estimated to be valued at USD 199 million in 2022. It is projected to reach USD 556 million by 2027, recording a CAGR of 22.7% during the forecast period
Human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) are among the major components of human milk, which is packed with essential nutrients to support human health. Some of the major types of HMOs are 2’FL, 3’FL, 3’SL, and 6’SL. On account of their numerous health benefits and a wide array of applications, 2’FL-based HMOs have become popular over the past few years. The introduction of HMO-based consumable products and the commercialization of the use of HMOs for industrial production are some of the major driving factors responsible for the overall growth of the HMO market.
HMO Market Dynamics:
Drivers: Rise in infant population
The UN data suggests that over 250 babies are born per minute globally. An average of 353,000 babies are born per day, making the total count of babies born in a year more than 130 million. This directly results in the rise in the consumption of infant formulas at a global level. Several other factors are also responsible for this increased consumption. Some of these include a rise in the number of working women post-giving birth, the inability of mothers to lactate, and better nutrition options for growing infants. According to the UN, the global population is projected to reach 9.6 billion by 2050. Human milk oligosaccharides are used as a major ingredient in the infant nutrition industry for manufacturing various infant formula and baby food. This constantly expanding population is expected to boost the sales of human milk oligosaccharides as an infant formula ingredient in the coming years. According to the National Bureau of Statistics of China, the country recorded 15.23 million births in 2018, creating a lucrative opportunity for manufacturers. Thus, China is expected to be a key revenue generator for the HMO market.
Restraints: High production cost associated with development of HMO-composed supplements and food products
The development and commercial aspects of HMO products are complex, expensive, and uncertain. Factors behind product development success are technological conditions, consumer demand, and legislative and regulatory background. Substantial investment is required for the R&D of a particular type of HMO to be used to produce dietary supplements or other functional food such as prebiotics. These products are developed and produced in accordance with international food regulations. Also, highly sterilized and technical equipment and processes are required to manufacture and extract various other functional ingredients. As a result of the high cost of production, the price of the final product is also high. Marketing and distribution further add to the product price. Although consumers are aware of the health benefits of these expensive functional food products, their high prices restrict them from buying the product. The intensity of the factor further increases in developing countries with a price-sensitive consumer base, especially in some Asian and African countries.
Opportunities: Emergence of alternative animal milk oligosaccharides
Bovine milk oligosaccharides are expected to play a key role in infant nutrition. A laboratory study by RMIT University (Australia), published in the British Journal of Nutrition, suggested that goat milk infant formula had similar prebiotic properties to breast milk and is expected to play a key role in the gut health of infants. Ausnutria Nutrition BV (Netherlands) offers goat milk-based infant formulas under its brand, Kabrita.
Another animal source is camel milk. In 2018, a UAE-based company, the Emirates Industry for Camel Milk and Products, also known as ‘Camelicious,’ launched a camel milk-based baby formula containing a high amount of iron for babies aged 1–3 years. Thus, these sources of animal milk oligosaccharides are expected to gain acceptance in the infant formula ingredients markets in the coming years. rigorous regulatory requirements in the environmental protection sector apply to the manufacturers’ production processes and their production environment
Challenges: Complex industrial process to extract oligosaccharides from milk
One of the biggest challenges associated with developing large-scale or industrial processes to recover oligosaccharides from mammalian milk is achieving a high degree of purity. More specifically, the challenge is to remove simple sugars such as lactose, glucose, and galactose that lack prebiotic activities and might have adverse effects while simultaneously maximizing product recovery. The use of lactose hydrolysis combined with membrane filtration to recover oligosaccharides from milk was successful; however, as the process remains tedious, there is a need to introduce much more advanced and convenient techniques through rigorous techniques research and development activities.
Key players in this market include DSM (Netherlands), BASF (Germany), CHR Hansen Holding A/S (Denmark), Dupont (US), and Nestle (Switzerland)