Interest in medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil and MCT-enriched products has grown significantly in recent years, particularly among consumers and brands in the natural products industry. Data provided to Nutritional Outlook by SPINS (Chicago, IL) indicates that MCT product sales grew by 2% in the 52 weeks leading up to November 2018, and Grand View Research predicts that the global MCT market will be worth $2.46 billion per year by 2025.1
MCTs, fatty acids commonly sourced from coconut and palm kernel oils, have come to prominence for their reputation as weight-loss supplements. Consumers are adopting MCT products for all manner of applications, using it to promote weight loss, brain health, ketosis, and more.
Why are consumers so drawn to MCTs these days? “Let’s just say, ‘Fat is back!’—and we think it is here to stay,” says Amanda Coulter, marketing manager for Abitec Corp. (Columbus, OH), a supplier who has manufactured MCTs for more than 25 years.
Coulter continues: “Numerous scientific studies have shown that consuming the right kinds of fats can not only help you lose weight and feel more energetic but also help you live a longer and healthier life…Saturated fats like MCTs have been shown to support a variety of benefits, including supporting normal cognitive requirements, sports performance, energy, satiety, and nutrient absorption. MCTs are naturally found in coconuts and palm, and the body can easily digest saturated fats for fuel to energize the brain and body.” The medical establishment has also used MCTs in cases of malnutrition and nutrition malabsorption, as MCTs are high-energy compounds that are relatively easy to metabolize.
Health benefits like these are driving renewed interest in MCTs, Coulter says. “MCTs have been around for decades, and in the last five years, there has been a lot more focus around them as a beneficial addition to your daily diet. With the comeback of the Keto Diet, which originated back in the 1920s, more companies are focusing on the ‘high-fat’ component of their nutritional products. Many manufacturers have turned to MCTs for a multitude of reasons, including the scientific evidence, proven health benefits, ease of use, and the improved functionality it brings to their products and formulations.”
MCTs also offer a relatively flat and neutral taste profile, making them ideal for use in a variety of food and supplement products. Coulter says they can be used in everything from pills, powders, and liquids to baked goods, snacks, candy, and beverages.
More companies are definitely taking advantage of the market opportunities that MCTs afford. “The MCT market is definitely growing and doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon,” Coulter says. “As an MCT manufacturer, we have noticed a vast spike over the last year of nutritional companies adding MCT oil as a dietary supplement to their portfolio. The number of companies offering a bottled MCT oil on the market today is close to triple the number 18 months ago.” She also cautions formulators to select their MCT supplier carefully. Remember, she says, that “not all MCT oils are alike, and certainly the variety of sources and purity are widespread, so it’s important to know what you are getting before you make that purchase.”
With that in mind, here are just some of the trends behind the rise of the MCT market.
1. “Medium-chain triglycerides market size worth $2.46 billion by 2025.” Grand View Research. Published online July 2017. https://www.grandviewresearch.com/press-release/global-medium-chain-triglycerides-mct-market
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