Powered by stable and sustained demand from end-use industries such as confectionary, pharmaceuticals, and food & beverages, demand for lactose ingredients has been re-established post- recession with the recovery of the global economy and normal pricing. In future, use of lactose as a source of cost-efficient, low-glycemic index carbohydrate is expected to drive rapid growth and development.
A research report titled "Lactose: A Global Strategic Business Report" announced by Global Industry Analysts Inc., provides a comprehensive market overview, impact of recession, key market trends, recent product launches, strategic corporate initiatives, and profiles of key/niche market participants.
The global lactose market is witnessing the emergence of myriad opportunities for lactose derivatives including lactitol, galactooligosaccharides and lactulose. Sialyllactose and LBA are some of the newly emerging lactose derivatives, and are expected to develop into commercial products in the future. The use of lactose as a source of cost-efficient, low-glycemic index carbohydrate is expected to witness a significant increase over the years. Lactose ingredients are also likely to record rise in demand on account of expanding usage in health segments such as pharmaceuticals and nutrition. Stable demand from end-use markets such as animal feed, confectionary, food, pharmaceuticals and beverages is one of the prime factors propelling growth in the market.
Growth in the food market is, however, impacted by growing demand for lactose-free foods from lactose intolerant groups. Sales of lactose-free products are currently on rise due to growing awareness among consumers about milk allergies and lactose intolerance. Lactose also faces competition from low cost, functional corn-based sweetener/fillers in the prepared foods, sweet bakery, and salty snacks categories.
Lactose intolerance shows wide geographic variation ranging from 100% in Zambia to 2% in Denmark. The intolerance rises with increasing temperatures and decreases with rising latitudes as it becomes difficult to maintain dairy herds in such environments. A study of various ethnic groups from Northern Europe and Mediterranean and East Africa revealed that among people originally from Africa, Southern or Eastern Asia, the Pacific, Australia or the Mediterranean, the ability to digest lactose usually decreases after infancy. Most Asian, African and Latin American consumers show "intolerance" to lactose. About 5.0% of the UK, North European, Irish, and American population is reported to be lactose intolerant.
Lactose is used in a number of confectionery products such as chocolate. The confectionary segment holds significant potential for the lactose market and is slated to grow at a rapid pace over the years, buoyed by emerging areas of application. Lactose and its derivatives constitute an excellent cost-effective alternative for minerals, protein, and vitamins. Globally, the pharmaceutical grade lactose is employed as a pharmaceutical excipient as a binder and filler in solid dose formulations like tables and powder sachets. Inhalation-grade pharmaceutical lactose, which accounts for a minor share of the worldwide lactose market, is expected to receive a boost as pharma companies increasingly develop new inhaled drug delivery therapies. In terms of proportional importance, inhalation-grade lactose represents a small but definitely growing segment of the million dollar pharmaceutical lactose market. Current research and development initiatives at several leading drug companies include products that are based on inhalation drug delivery rather than conventional forms such as tablets or injection. The breakthrough technology facilitates accurate and controlled release of dosage and expands the range of available active ingredients.
The United States represents the single most important market for lactose, as stated by the new market research report on Lactose. Asia-Pacific backed by rising demand from burgeoning markets of India, China, New Zealand, Korea and others is forecast to surge ahead at the fastest compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.8% through 2017. The Asian market is largely dependent on imports for dairy ingredients and is expected to rank as a major consumer in the future. Factors such as huge population base, growing disposable income and rising standards of living are spurring international dairy firms to set up collaborations and ventures with domestic companies in a bid to tap the lucrative market.