Nutrition Asia

Opportunity in the Middle East: How Manuka honey and Lingzhi firms are tapping on strong immune, plant-based demands in the Gulf

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags The True Honey Co. HQ Gano Manuka honey lingzhi Singapore New zealand

APAC companies are starting to tap into growing demands for health foods and dietary supplements in the Middle East after the COVID-19 pandemic stirred consumer interest in preventive health.

Singapore’s HQ Gano and New Zealand’s The True Honey Co. were two companies that recently exhibited at Arab Health held in Dubai on January 30 to February 2.

Speaking to NutraIngredients-Asia ​on this episode of Nutrition Asia, the two companies spoke about the market trends and demands that they are seeing from the Middle Eastern consumers.

Making its maiden appearance at a trade show, HQ Gano said it has planned to introduce its Lingzhi supplement beyond the domestic market since it was set up in 2019. It currently sells only one SKU – HQ Lingzhi – in Singapore, Brunei, and Malaysia.

The firm sources its Lingzhi (Ganoderma lucidum)​ cracked spores powder and extract from its farm in Vietnam, as well as other producing countries such as China and Japan.

“Basically, Lingzhi is not something new, it has been known for more than 2,000 years. 

“Lingzhi has a lot of health benefits, in particular, it boosts one's immune system, it also improves your blood circulation, and reduce fatigue...” ​said managing director Christopher Yeo.

The firm is seeing opportunities in the Middle East especially since the pandemic, as consumers are searching online for products that could support the immunity, including Lingzhi which is associated with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

“During COVID-19, a lot of people became aware of Lingzhi and through google search etc and were looking for products that aid the immune system and Lingzhi is one of them,”​ said chairman Richard Lim.

Aside from immune health, the company is also getting more enquiries from the Middle East customers about Lingzhi and its role in aiding sleep. Interest in plant-based products was also observed.

The True Honey Co, on the other hand, is not a newcomer to Middle East but is planning on entering more markets in the region.

Its manuka honey has been sold in Saudi Arabia via a partnership with Al Nahdi Pharmacy four years ago. Seven weeks ago, it also launched in the UAE via a partnership with Aster Pharmacy.

CEO Jim McMillan said that the most well-known honey in the Middle East was Sidr honey but because demand for honey has outstripped supply, customers have since looked beyond the region for alternatives.

Manuka honey from New Zealand has therefore become one of the sought-after options.

“Probably one of the most well-known honeys in the Middle East region would be the Sidr honey, being produced and used for thousands of years within the region.

“But I guess part of the problem is that it's relative to the level of population and high consumption of honey in those markets that they are consuming a lot more than they are able to produce.

“So that's where they are looking for other high grade honey products or sources of honey to fill that gap,” ​McMillan said.

Watch the video to find out more.

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