Specialising in probiotics and Hericium erinaceus – also known as lion’s mane, the Taiwanese health food firm said it would take a step-by-step approach in China, with an initial focus on commonly seen health demands.
Speaking to NutraIngredients-Asia at the HI / FI China exhibition held in Shanghai, chairman Dr Andrew Tseng and executive director of the R&D division Dr Hsu Sheng-Chieh revealed that the firm would target the Chinese market with the first wave of basic probiotics before launching products for cognitive and oral health.
According to Tseng, the current Chinese probiotics market is still at an early stage, with digestive health as the fastest growing category and yogurts the most consumed form of probiotics.
“The understanding of probiotics is stronger in Taiwan than in China. In China, you need to explain the concepts of probiotics by giving examples such as yogurt and Yakult,” he said.
At the same time, the firm is starting to observe a shift towards other functions, as such reducing allergic reactions, weight management, and female and infant health as it starts to receive more customer queries in these areas.
“Because the market in China is at a nascent stage, we do not want to divert our attention too much and will first target demands from the wider community, such as anti-allergen, boosting immunity, reducing fats, protecting the digestive gut, female and infant health,” Tseng said.
“This is despite the fact that we can also produce probiotics for boosting hyaluronic acid, alleviating gout and preventing depression and we plan to launch some of these in Taiwan first.”
An example of a more advanced probiotic product that the firm has developed, is a double strain probiotics for digestive health.
Hsu said that the product worked by stifling the growth of helicobacter pylori while protecting, and even healing damaged parts of the gastric mucosa at the same time.
While the firm purely provides formulation solutions using its in-house probiotic strains for distributors, Wechat and online businesses in the Chinese market, it plans to bring in its in-house probiotics brand “Yi Jun Wang” already on sale in Taiwan into China as well.
Containing seven probiotic strains, the product regulates digestive health and reduces allergic reactions.
The product is expected to officially enter the Chinese market via cross-border e-commerce.
As for Taiwan, it currently works with more than 50 brands, enjoying a market share of 40% in the local probiotics industry.
According to Hsu, from isolating the probiotic strain, to conducting tests to ensure its functionality, safety, and stability, the firm takes about two to three years each time to develop a new product.
In addition to China and Taiwan, South East Asia is also a priority and in January, the firm signed a JV agreement with Malaysia bio-tech firm All Cosmos.
The partnership would see Grape King Bio taking charge of the production of health foods, while All Cosmos would be responsible for the distribution of products, Tseng said.