‘NMN education still needed in China’: Latvian brand partners with health consultants, nutritionists to promote category

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

Kimura is selling its NMN products into China and Hong Kong in the initial stage. ©Kimura
Kimura is selling its NMN products into China and Hong Kong in the initial stage. ©Kimura

Related tags NMN China retail channels

A Latvian nutra brand entering China believes that the country’s nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) consumer market still requires proper education – despite the sales boom experienced in the past year – and has managed to attract health consultants and nutritionists in promoting its products.

Kimura, a Latvia-based company, conducted a pre-sale of its NMN supplements into China and Hong Kong in September.

Founded last year, the company currently sells only NMN supplements under the same brand name Kimura.

Due to regulatory restrictions on NMN within the European Union countries, it is selling the supplements only to China and Hong Kong via cross-border e-commerce (CBEC) at the moment.

Sourcing its NMN raw material from Chinese firm Sinoway Industrial, the company has developed two product SKUs – NMN capsules that contain either 250mg or 500mg of pure NMN. 

Each bottle of 250mg NMN containing 30 capsules was sold at EUR$35 (US$40) and while the 500mg version was sold at EUR$55 (US$64) during the pre-sales period.

The products are manufactured by Latvian third-party manufacturing and white-label branding firm Primea.

Famed for claims around longevity, NMN saw a sudden sales spike in China last year, with big brand names such as GNC​ jumped on the bandwagon. 

However, no health foods containing NMN has been approved by China’s State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR). The National Health Commission (NHC) has also neither conducted safety assessment on the ingredient nor approved its use in foods or health foods production.

In January this year, SAMR’s Department of Food Operation Safety Supervision also ordered an inspection on companies making NMN health foods.

This means that Chinese consumers can only purchase NMN via the CBEC route.

Proper education needed ​ 

Speaking to NutraIngredients-Asia, ​Kimura’s co-owner Aigars Geiba said there was a lack of understanding amongst China’s consumers on NMN’s function.

He pointed out that the boom last year was largely centred on longevity, instead of its actual health benefits.

“Last year, NMN was positioned to increase lifespan, to live longer. I think it was positioned wrongly, and people misunderstood it. It was not about [improving] health, it was about [extending the] age, not about keeping you healthy.

“It is good that the [NMN category] is controlled by the Chinese government, so that we can have some kind of quality control. Second, it is very important on how you can or can't position your product. And also, China is doing a good job controlling the NMN product positioning.

“The NMN [consumer market] still needs some more consumer education. It involves explanation on how it works, to provide people with scientific evidence.”

Due to the availability of more scientific evidence, he believes that now is an opportune time to enter the China market.

A study published in Endocrine Journal ​during April last year showed for the first time that NMN oral intake was safe and well metabolised. However, the study​, conducted in 10 healthy Japanese men, reported no physical improvements.

Another six-week RCT​ on 48 runners found that NMN supplementation had increased the aerobic capacity of humans during exercise training. The study had used NMN provided by GeneHarbor – a Hong Kong based company well-known in the NMN circle – and findings were published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition ​in July this year.

“We see that more clinical trials are going around, and the results are very promising. We believe that NMN is here for a long time and is not going to disappear soon.”

Working with the right partners

The company is selling its products CBEC via its website and also working with affiliate marketing companies – which has attracted the attention of health consultants and nutritionists interested in promoting the firm’s NMN products.

“The response [to our pre-sales] is surprisingly high…There is a specific group that has expressed interest. It is not simply the bloggers or beauty influencers. These are the health consultants, people involved in sports nutrition, bodybuilders who understand and who is ready to explain it to the customers.

“We [also] don’t want to sell it to the people who don't know what it is, its about responsibility and this is the reason why we focus on people who know what they are selling,” ​Geiba said.

According to China’s iiMedia Research, the market size of NMN supplements in China has reached RMB$5.11bn (US$790m) last year, which was a yoy growth of 34.87 per cent.

By 2023, the market is expected to reach RMB$27bn (US$418m).

Geiba added that the company would be sending its NMN products for quality and purity testing in a third-party laboratory in the UK before shipping its products for sales.

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