Make it a double…again! Aussie supplements sector seeks to double $900m exports in two years

By Gary Scattergood

- Last updated on GMT

The industry has received good new over country of origin rules.
The industry has received good new over country of origin rules.

Related tags Australia Exports China Probiotics

Australia’s supplements sector has more than doubled its exports sales to $900m over the past two years, and now it is on a mission to achieve that feat again by 2021.

The ambition was set by the board of trade body Complementary Medicines Austrlalia, and revealed by its CEO Carl Gibson at its annual summit in Sydney.

It comes in a year when Australia became the number one exporter of natural health products to the crucial China market.

Australia now accounts for 22.3% of all supplements and health foods imported into China, taking the top spot from the US, which had a 20.4% share of the market in 2018.

According to data from the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Medicines and Health Products (CCCMHPIE), Australian imports recorded growth of 60.8% year-on-year to US$660m.

As it seeks to continue its export growth, the organisation has identified Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia and India, as well as China, as being ripe for further trade.

CMA’s economic policy advisor Aiden Essery added that Jakarta should receive most of the attention in Indonesia, owing to its large, urbanized, young and increasingly affluent population.

For Malaysia, he identified the government’s investment in health as a reason for optimism, and highlighted the potential for products tackling obesity, diabetes and joint health.

Meanwhile Korea is being touted for its omega-3, probiotics and eye care opportunities. In India, he said there was scope to help address high levels of anaemia.

Closer to home

On the domestic front, Essery added that by 2023 the market was tipped to hit $6.5 billion, representing an average five-year growth rate of 3.5%. That rate is more than double the growth rate of the broader economy of 1.4%

In terms of hot ingredients, glucosamine topped the charts with 11.6% growth between 2017-18, followed by probiotics at 10.2%, spirulina at 9.6%, calcium at 9.1% and propolis at 8.6%

One blot on the horizon, however, has been the regulatory dispute over the use of ‘Australian made’ claims.

Rule changes first announced in 2017 subsequently, and unexpectedly, encompassed complementary medicines, meaning firms could no longer use the “Australian made’ logo – a key selling point – if they were deemed not to have ‘substantially transformed’ an imported ingredient.

But Gibson told the summit: “Eventually CMA managed to convince the Government to reinstate the Made in Australia claims for our industry. But a full legislative amendment could take 12 months because changes to Australian Consumer Law require agreement from States and the Territories

“However, CMA pushed for an interim solution, and I am pleased to let you know that this is now being actioned and will restore the right for our industry to use Made in Australia claims.”

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