A place for placenta? Japanese firm targets South East Asia with specialty supplements

By Cheryl Tay

- Last updated on GMT

The firm's human placenta dietary supplements are available exclusively via prescription at licensed hospitals and clinics. ©Getty Images
The firm's human placenta dietary supplements are available exclusively via prescription at licensed hospitals and clinics. ©Getty Images
Asians' general openness to dietary supplements made with unconventional ingredients is opening doors in the region for a Japanese firm that specialises in placenta-based products.

At the recent HI South East Asia trade show in Jakarta, Japan Bio Products (JBP) showcased its range of supplements and cosmetics, which included products made from equine, porcine, and even human placenta.

A prime example is its Laennec PO range of placenta-based dietary supplements, which come in capsule form and are made from 100% placenta powder. The product is available in human and porcine placenta versions, and both are supposed to support liver function, immune health, collagen production, recovery from fatigue, and blood circulation (among other health benefits).

The company also produces EQ Capsules, which are made from equine placenta; its purported benefits include antioxidant and anti-fatigue action, as well as immune health support.

JBP’s ASEAN manager Winston Ooi told NutraIngredients-Asia​: "There aren’t many differences between the human and porcine supplements in terms of health benefits. Rather, our products are developed and promoted according to the needs of the local consumers.

"For example, we recommend EQ Capsules to our Indonesian customers, due to their religious concerns. However, most Singaporean customers are usually not picky about any type of placenta supplement."

Open minds, open doors

At the moment, JBP exports its products to Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, Myanmar, Azerbaijan, Spain and Italy, and is looking for distributors in Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia.

While most of its products are available in its native Japan, however, it is not permitted to sell its human placenta supplements in the country, as edible items made from the human body are banned there.

Still, the company sees plenty of opportunity for all its placenta-based dietary supplements in other Asian countries.

Ooi said, "Asians tend to be more open minded towards placenta-based products, as some of them — such as the Chinese — actually have a history of consuming placenta.

"With more information available online, people are more exposed to placenta products and the demand is increasing."

Unusual channel

Curiously, the firm's human placenta dietary supplements are not distributed to retailers, pharmacies or any supplement store, online or offline.

Instead, these supplements are available exclusively via prescription at licensed hospitals and clinics.

Ooi explained: "It is more favourable for us to sell (these supplements) through medical institutions and as this is the business model for most of our regional distributors.

"However, we do not restrict our distributors from selling our products through other channels, as long as they've been registered with the local authorities."

Science and strategy

He revealed that JBP was currently working on obtaining clinical data for its existing supplements, so as to strengthen their reputation among consumers.

In terms of expansion plans, he said, We are focusing on South East Asia, and we’d are looking for local distributors who can register and market our products in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.

"This is why we have been actively participating in exhibitions in Singapore and Indonesia, and will be exhibiting in Australia, China, Cambodia and Pakistan later this year."

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