China supplements market uncovered (part one): Minerals and dietary supplements out-performing vitamins

By Gary Scattergood

- Last updated on GMT

Researchers are forecasting a value CAGR of 11% for dietary supplements in China to 2021.  ©iStock
Researchers are forecasting a value CAGR of 11% for dietary supplements in China to 2021. ©iStock

Related tags Dietary supplement Nutrition

Minerals and dietary supplements are leading the nutrition industry’s charge in China, with vitamins lagging behind, according to a new report which suggests the total market will reach RMB124bn (USD$20bn) by the end of the year, up 12.2 % from 2015.

Analysis from Mintel suggests that minerals and dietary products (defined as animal-based nutritional supplements such as cod liver oil, and plant-based supplements like garlic oil and spirulina tablets) are growing faster than vitamins due to a wider variety of products entering the market and increasing consumer interest in more diversified health benefits.

Researchers are forecasting a value CAGR of 11% for dietary supplements, 9.7% for minerals and 8.6% for vitamins over the period 2016-21.

“The market will continue to benefit from an aging population, more health conscious consumers, positive regulatory changes and development in e-commerce. Younger consumers’ open attitudes towards using health supplements as a necessary step of health management, means the market enjoys a broadening customer base,”​ ​said Mintel.

They point out that the health supplement market remains highly fragmented with leading players such as Pfizer, Dong-E-E-Jiao, Herbalife and Amway each accounting for 4-6% of the value share in 2015, only marginally ahead of other key players.

“These big manufacturers are also facing challenges brought by new entrants as development of e-commerce and haitao shopping intensifies market competition. Noticeably, Amway is losing its share as direct selling comes under pressure,” ​it adds.

In terms of health claims, Mintel says an analysis of the top 20 claims of new health supplement launches in China over 2014-16 shows products targeting female and seniors products are on the rise, with claims related to bone cardiovascular and brain health increasing.

Diverse supplements

They add a survey shows that minerals and dietary supplements see a clear overall consumption increase from 36% to 40%, and 28% to 33% in the heavy user category (at least several times a week) over 2014-16.

“This shows that consumers are looking for more diversified health supplements and their category knowledge is growing beyond just knowing vitamins. Heavy users of health supplements are skewed towards women aged 25-29. Other than Chengdu, tier one cities continue to lead product usage,”​ ​Mintel adds.

The report states that firms should be optimistic about the market’s future potential because health will remain a highly relevant topic in Chinese consumers’ lives, “with so many other factors (regulation changes, aging population, rising income and access to more products) playing in favour of the weight loss and health supplement market.” 

It concludes: “Mintel is confident about the long term growth prospect of the market. However, companies should not be under the illusion that competing in the market is easy and take success for granted.”

Coming soon - China market uncovered part two: What health claims can entice Chinese citizens? 

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