Speaking to NutraIngredients-Asia at the Vitafoods exhibition held in Singapore, Yasushi Nagasue, CEO of MYM International told us the state of the fucoidan industry in Japan and the firm’s expansion plans.
At present, Japan’s fucoidan market is worth 15 billion yen, and around 90% of the Japanese consumers are cancer patients, Nagasue revealed.
Most of these patients suffer from stomach or intestinal cancers, as clinical studies had shown that fucoidan was able to shrink tumour size and alleviating the side effects of cancer treatments, he added.
The remaining 10% consume fucoidan to lower the risk of contracting cancer, prevent cancer from recurring, and for health maintainence.
Based in Fukuoka, MYM International had sold two million bottles of its flagship SEA Fucoidan DX 900ml product in Japan since the release of the product in 1997. The raw materials mozuku and kelp are sourced from Tonga and Chile respectively, as the firm believed they are of better quality than those from Japan.
Noticing that the fucoidan market is booming in Taiwan and Vietnam, the firm has decided to expand into these two countries.
“In Vietnam, they know fucoidan so well and the market is increasing and huge over there,” he said.
He believes that fucoidan supplements are popular in Vietnam because Vietnamese have the habit of consuming seaweed in their daily meals.
“If people are not accustomed to eating seaweed, they would not know much about fucoidan I think.”
The firm has entered the Vietnam market last December, with distributors selling its bottled SEA Fucoidan DX in pharmacies, online and via doctors’ recommendations.
Beside Vietnam, it is targeting Taiwan, where there is also a thriving market for fucoidan products.
However, he acknowledged that there would be stiff competition in Taiwan, since many local companies were in the business.
In view of the challenges, he said that the company would position themselves as the “pioneer of fucoidan” to differentiate themselves from others.
As for Singapore, he believed that there was a market for fucoidan supplements, since the government was actively promoting healthier lifestyles and there were reports of Singaporeans consuming more supplements than other neighbouring countries.
“Singapore is also a trade centre and we would like to expand to other parts of Asia from Singapore.”
Entering skincare industry
Besides fucoidan dietary supplements, MYM International is currently working with Kyushu University to study the potential of producing skincare lotions with fucoidan.
“Our consumers are mainly cancer patients and those who want to maintain health, so now we are thinking to expand our business to skincare and cosmetics,” Nagasue said.
The study which commenced last year is expected to end this year.
There are plans to launch the lotion at the beginning of next year.