What is Konjac?

Konjac, also known as glucomannan, is a type of herb that grows in some parts of Asia. It is popular for its starchy corm, a tuber-looking part of the stem that grows underground. The corm is utilized to make a rich source of soluble dietary fiber. Konjac is utilized as a gelatin substitute, which is further used to thicken or add texture to foods. It is also utilized in traditional Chinese medicine. In the Western world, konjac is best known as a dietary supplement for weight loss and cholesterol management.

Structure of Konjac Plant

It is considered to be native to Yunnan in China and grown in warm subtropical to tropical East and Southeast Asia, from Japan and China south to Indonesia. It is a perennial plant, growing from a large corm up to 25 cm (10 in) in diameter. The single leaf is up to 1.3 m (4 ft) across, bipinnate, and divided into several leaflets. The flowers are produced on a spathe enclosed by a dark purple spadix up to 55 cm (22 in) long.

Extraction of Konjac

Konjac is extracted from the plant amorphophallus konjac. The konjac plant has 40% glucomannan, which is obtained from the tubers. As explained above, konjac is a popular plant in parts of Japan, South Korea, and China. Glucomannan is made of long-chain carbohydrates and is considered as fibers, which are difficult to digest. Glucomannan helps in reducing cholesterol and blood pressure.

Applications of Konjac

Konjac plant is a type of tuber. The tuber finds its application in food preparation, consisting of pasta, noodles, and flours. Moreover, it is utilized as a thickening agent in the food industry and various traditional medicines. Increasing awareness among consumers regarding the health benefits of dietary fibers has resulted in the rise in the adoption of konjac as a dietary supplement, which is one of the significant reasons that increase the demand for the konjac plants. These plants are also utilized for the manufacturing of a number of medicines, consisting of supplements for dietary fiber, capsules, gels, and others. The adoption of konjac in the preparation of foods such as pasta, noodles, and ice creams is a major aspect of the market. Konjac decreases cholesterol, which is a substantial advantage of utilizing konjac. The konjac offers the essential nutritional balance in food and is utilized for stabilizing blood sugar. It is also utilized as a prebiotic. Using Konjac helps the growth of the healthy gut bacteria, which improves digestion and functions of the intestine and boosts immunity.

Six Health Benefits of Konjac

Konjac has various potential health benefits. Many of these benefits can be related to its substantial content of glucomannan, the soluble dietary fiber that is naturally present in the konjac plant.

Following are some of the potential health benefits:
1. Diabetes Management

According to research, consumption of a mix of glucomannan and American ginseng can result in a moderate improvement in the management of type 2 diabetes. Additionally, a study of 2015 found that consumption of glucomannan could prevent the diabetes patients from increasing their sugar levels. This is because consuming glucomannan results in a heavy stomach and makes stomach full for longer period of time.

2. Weight Management
Glucomannan made from konjac may be beneficial for people who are trying to lose weight. A study found that the soluble dietary fiber supplement helped overweight people to reduce their body weight. The participants in the study took the supplement as part of a balanced, calorie-controlled diet. Konjac is used as a laxative, which helps in the elimination of toxic materials from the intestine, which facilitates weight loss. However, one study of 2014 found that there was no benefit of using glucomannan versus placebo for weight loss. Also, side effects of the fiber supplement included abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, and constipation.

Glucomannan can help a person feel full for longer by reducing the rate at which the digestive system empties. Researchers also compared the effects of the glucomannan supplement with those of a guar gum supplement. They discovered that the glucomannan supplement slightly increased weight loss, whereas the guar gum supplement did not.

3. Cholesterol Control
High cholesterol can increases a person’s risk of heart disease and stroke. Doctors also recommend water-soluble fiber to help in keeping healthy cholesterol levels and provide support in weight management.

A 2019 study performed on rats with diabetes found that administering konjac glucomannan substantially decreased total cholesterol levels along with low-density lipoprotein, which is known as bad cholesterol. Moreover, a study of 2017 revealed that the dosage of glucomannan was able to improve cholesterol levels. Researchers found that consumption of three grams per day is considered to be beneficial for health.

4. Constipation
Taking a glucomannan supplement is also considered to help regulate a proper bowel movement and prevent constipation. A review from 2017 explained that taking glucomannan improved the frequency of bowel movements in children with constipation. A study from 2018 also found that glucomannan supplementation can improve constipation symptoms during pregnancy.

5. Healthy Skin
The glucomannan content is also considered to help improve the skin. For instance, a study found that glucomannan can offer benefits as a topical therapy for acne, as well as improve overall skin health.

6. Wound Healing
Along with supporting skin health, glucomannan is believed to help heal the body wounds faster. One experiment  found that glucomannan supplements might amplify wound healing by supporting the immune system. However, more research is required to conclude that glucomannan has the same effect in humans.

Market Dynamics

According to a detailed report by Growth Market Reports, the global konjac market was valued at USD 2,069 million in 2020 and is projected to reach USD 3,711 million by 2028, expanding at a CAGR of 8.3% during the forecast period, 2021-2028.

Recent Trends

  • There is a growing trend of health consciousness among consumers, growing demand for digestive supplements, rising demand for weight loss supplements, and surging research & development. These are some of the factors expected to drive the market growth.
  • Risks/side-effects associated with konjac are projected to hinder the growth of the market.
  • Consumers are becoming more conscious about their health, which has led to the adoption of healthy food options.
  • Rising prevalence of obesity has resulted in the rise in the adoption of weight loss supplements. This has led to the rise in the adoption of konjac-based weight loss supplements, hence driving the growth of the konjac-based supplements.
  • Growing inclination of consumers toward digestive supplements attributing to their health benefits is augmenting the demand for the konjac market.
  • Increasing popularity of konjac-based noodles has also resulted in the rise in the adoption of the konjac in several food products, which is further contributing to the growth of the market.

COVID-19 Impact on the Market

The coronavirus pandemic has led to financial havoc across the globe. It had pressurized the manufacturing industry to come to a halt. However, the market is slowly recovering. Manufacturers are including technologies to make the overall system less dependent on humans. Besides this, the industries are seeking for local players to meet their requirements.

The outlook of impact can be divided under the following possible scenarios:

  • According to the optimistic scenario, the global konjac market is anticipated to remain under the massive impact of COVID-19 in the first quarter of 2020, and from the second quarter, the demand is expected to rise.
  • Under the probabilistic scenario, the market is expected to remain under the strong influence of the crisis until the second quarter, and from the third quarter onwards, the situation will alleviate.

Regional Analysis

In terms of regions, the global konjac market is fragmented into North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America, and Middle East & Africa. Asia Pacific accounted for a substantial market share of 43.2% in 2020. The market in the Asia Pacific region is projected to expand at a CAGR of 9.1% during the forecast period. Rising demand for konjac-based products and the rise in presence of many manufacturers are thereby augmenting the growth of the konjac market in the region.

Competitive Landscape

Prominent players in the market include Aunutra Industries Inc., Baoji Konjac Chemical Co., Ltd, and others.
The prominent players in the market are utilizing strategies such as product launches, mergers & acquisitions, and contracts & collaborations. These strategies are expected to deliver effective goods and high-performance goods, supporting market laws, and better client satisfaction.

  • Aunutra Industries Inc. is focusing on maintaining good relations with customers by offering them free pre-sales samples and aggressive discounts on products, at lucrative prices.
  • Baoji Konjac Chemical Co., Ltd is focusing on adapting strategies to develop an optimum supply chain by building a good rapport with delivery express companies such as FedEx, UPS, DHL, and EMS.