The supplements are currently available in Australia and Vietnam, and the firm is hoping to launch in Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and Indonesia in early to mid-2022.
“Supplement sales in Asia is not quick and easy as we need to go through tough and lengthy registration; apart from Singapore, Vietnam, China (e-commerce), for which registration is not required or not too difficult,” said Francis Tang, regional sales lead (Asia) at Max Biocare.
Marketed under the Procare brand, the soft gel supplements are targeted at preconception, pregnancy and breastfeeding. There are currently three SKUs, comprising of Procare, Procare Diamond and Procare Diamond Plus.
Market and consumer awareness
Tang told NutraIngredients-Asia consumers in South East Asia are familiar with prenatal and breastfeeding supplements.
“Due to the work of the governments and healthcare professionals, women understand that they need to have adequate intakes of certain nutrients before, during and after pregnancy, due to the increased foetal and newborn demands, or deficiency of these nutrients in the normal maternal diet, or both.”
“This is normally focused on nutrients such as folic acid, iron, calcium, but in recent years there is a growing recognition for others including omega-3 DHA, vitamin D and iodine.”
Procare’s supplements contain omega-3 fatty acids like DHA and EPA, iron (patented ingredient: Ferrochel), vitamins B6, C, D, E, zinc, iodine, and folate (vitamin B9) essential for maternal health and foetal development.
According to Dr George Thouas, head of R&D at Max Biocare, “balanced nutrition is very important for baseline reproductive health because it is sensitive to even mild or moderate nutrient deficiencies,”
“After pregnancy, the baseline is raised and imposes an increased level of nutritional demand on women as their bodies adapt to the additional intakes of their little passengers.”
Tang described its strategy to launch in these markets, “In most of our markets, products are normally launched through professional channels to ensure that information is understood properly and that consumers will get the right advice they deserve. Products will also be available in pharmacies at a later stage.”
“For Procare, from our experience we need to get approval from professionals first, as they will be the best to advise mums on what they should take or do during this special period.”
Tang said consumers in Asia typically seek professional, doctor’s advice and peer, family recommendation and word of mouth when looking for supplements.
The first product from Procare was launched in 2002, and sales grew around 20 to 30% in the first five years. “From year five, it was driven by word of mouth and sales were doubled for the next few years,” Tang said.
During the COVID-19 period, sales remain steady despite not increasing. “However, we expect growth to bounce back in 2022,” he added.
Max Biocare conducts several human clinical trials to assess its supplements, and is planning to do so for Procare as well.
“A protocol has been discussed in cooperation with a university right now, and we hope to start a series of studies across our markets in 2022,” Tang told us.
The key ingredients in Procare supplements such as Ferrochel have already been validated separately in clinical trials.