Sales of health products including vitamin C effervescent tablets, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) brand Banlangen, and Xiao Chaihu (herbal formula) saw big increases.
These supplements are used to help prevent fever, cold, and other respiratory symptoms. JD said the virus outbreak was the cause of the surge consumption, and its higher online sales was attributed to consumers preferring to order delivery online instead of going to supermarket to purchase products.
Suppliers receive strong demand
As retailers like JD saw a spike in sales of vitamin C and immunity products, suppliers of these products also saw higher demand.
One such example is DSM, a manufacturer of vitamin C which operates a production facility in Jiangshan, China.
Dr Jiang Weiming, DSM China’s president and group vice president told NutraIngredients-Asia: “Demand has been robust as Vitamin C plays an important role as immune system booster. A strong immune system is not only an important defence line to prevent infection, but also the key to controlling disease development and restoring health after infection.”
The Jiangshan site has a Vitamin C production capacity of approximately 25 kilotons. The products are for both domestic market as well as exported globally.
While many firms shut down operations during the extended Chinese New Year break combined with the coronavirus outbreak, Dr Jiang said DSM’s operations were fully operational during this period.
The firm also has a vitamin C manufacturing facility in Scotland. “Our Scotland plant has been producing regularly with high-level output and has (also) received strong demand for our Vitamin C products,” said Dr Jiang.
Early in February, DSM shipped 50 tons of its Vitamin C from its Jiangshan plant to Hubei, to help fight the outbreak.
On the topic of vitamin C and its effect on immunity, China is conducting clinical trials to investigate the effect of vitamin C on affected patients with COVID-19.
The Chinese Clinical Trial Registry records two such interventional clinical trials. The trials will be conducted by The Second Affiliated Hospital of Xi'an Jiaotong University and Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University.
The former will recruit 56 patients and investigate clinical efficacy and safety of high-dose Vitamin C in the treatment of severe and critical patients with COVID-19 pneumonia. The study will last one year, from February 18, 2020 to February 28, 2021.
The latter will recruit 30 patients and evaluate the efficacy and safety of diammonium glycyrrhizinate (150mg) enteric-coated capsules combined with vitamin C tablets (500mg) in patients with COVID-19 infection. The trial is planned to run three months from February 12 to May 12, 2020.