China's amino acid market: 'Cause for concern' as domestic industry switches from bulk to healthcare

By Gary Scattergood

- Last updated on GMT

Amino acid  products have 'no absolute advantages in the Chinese industry,' says CCM. ©Getty Images
Amino acid products have 'no absolute advantages in the Chinese industry,' says CCM. ©Getty Images
China's amino acid suppliers are increasingly moving away from bulk supplies to focus on products such as valine, isoleucine, and glutamine for supplements and health products, but one expert is warning that standards are not always up to scratch.

According to market intelligence firm CCM, there are three main problems currently hindering the Chinese market.

Firstly, many manufacturers are rushing to cash in on soaring demand for supplements by mislabelling products, said CCM's Patrick Schreiber.

"Some manufacturers are not labelling products correctly,"​ he said. "For example, it is not uncommon that products do not have any official registration, or to have products labelled as clinical drugs, even though they do not meet the requirements to do so."

Furthermore, some manufacturers have added less–than-required contents to their products.

"According to the Guangdong Food and Drug Administration, several products that were inspected in December 2017 contained far fewer amino acids than the required amount,"​ Schreiber added.

He also said the Chinese market was at risk of the illegal addition of food additives.

"According to CCM's research, substandard imported protein powder was found earlier this year. These products were substandard due to the illegal use of the food additive stevioside, of nutrition enhancers (l-leucine, l-valine and l-isoleucine), and the food additive sodium silicoaluminate."

Growth forecast

These developments come on the back of projected double-digit growth for food-grade amino acids in China and across the wider Asia region.

The leading single amino acid products are lysine, arginine, taurine and glutamine, while compound products are set to benefit from China's sports nutrition boom.

However, Schreiber cautioned that the overall market in China was coming from a relatively low base.

"Amino acid healthcare products have no absolute advantages in the Chinese industry. Currently, the effective method of increasing sales is large amounts of advertising and greater efforts in marketing.

"Amino acid healthcare product has lower awareness than vitamins, so it takes up a small market share."

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