Coronavirus in Singapore: Vitamin demand jumps five-fold in two weeks for supermarket chain

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

Vitamin C supplements are some of the hot buys in Singapore as a result of the covid-19 outbreak. ©Getty Images
Vitamin C supplements are some of the hot buys in Singapore as a result of the covid-19 outbreak. ©Getty Images

Related tags Singapore coronavirus Vitamins TCM

The coronavirus Covid-19 has sparked a sudden spike in demand for vitamin C and multivitamins in Singapore, according to a major retailer in the city state.

As of February 25, Singapore has 91 confirmed cases, which includes both exported infection and local transmission cases. Of which, over half have been discharged.

With a number of local cases that were not linked to previous cases or travel history to China, the Singapore government had stepped up its risk assessment from DORSCON Yellow to DORSCON Orange on February 7.

As the epidemic continues, public demand for dietary supplements, alongside masks, and hand sanitizers has skyrocketed in the past two weeks.

For local supermarket chain NTUC FairPrice, which also owns the pharmacy chain Unity, there has been an “exceptionally high demand”​ for health supplements, especially vitamin C and multivitamins since the onset of the coronavirus.

“The demand for these items had surged by as much as three to five times,”​ FairPrice spokesperson said in response to queries from NutraIngredients-Asia.

Out of which, soluble vitamin C tablets were the most sought-after supplement, with brands such as Redoxon and Cebion taking the top spot.

Other popular brands of vitamin C in the capsule or tablet forms were Ocean Health, Blackmores, and Kordels.

With the unusually high demand for vitamin C soluble tablets, the retailer said the current stocks for some of the brands were “running low”, ​and that it was working with its suppliers to ramp up supply.

It added that its overall supply of health supplements remained “readily available.”

TCM

In terms of TCM, Eu Yan Sang told us that the sales of its immunity-boosting products had “increased quite significantly”.

The company had reduced the price of products such as lingzhi, cordyceps, and flu-related items such as flu relief (Ban Lan Gen) and Fever Relief (Yin Qiao San) for a limited time to encourage more frequent usage.

The price reduction is also accompanied with visual merchandising at its retail stores, websites, and social media platforms, the company’s spokesperson said.

Elsewhere in China, the novel coronavirus has also led to a sharp rise in the demand for vitamin c effervescent tablets, with numbers going up by 5.5 times as compared to a month ago on JD.com.

The e-commerce giant also said TCM brands, such as Bailangen, that claim to help prevent fever and cold were also popular items.

On the other hand, other Chinese companies also said that supplements such as​ cordyceps mycelia, glucan, lactoferrin, and selenium-enriched yeast, were the popular items.

Virus impact

While the virus had led to an increase demand for dietary supplements, it has also caused unwanted financial impact to supplements brands.

In its recent financial report, Blackmores pinpointed the coronavirus, rising costs, and unexpected operational challenges as factors that have caused the company to half its profits forecast and scrap its dividend.

The virus played a role as it has affected supply chains into China.

“While the outbreak has resulted in increased demand for key immunity products in Australia and Asia, the impact of the sales has been countered by supply chain disruptions across the region as a result of the contagion.

“Some e-commerce partners have cancelled or modified February promotions with a slowdown of China inbound and internal freight, which has made it difficult to serve the local market demand with much needed product,”​ CEO Alastair Symington told shareholders.

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