The global market for products such as vitamins, dietary supplements, botanicals and tonics was estimated to be in excess of USD 60 billion in 2007, and the Asia Pacific region contributes more than 40% of these sales.
According to a new report by EAS, "Marketing health supplements, fortified and functional foods in Asia," with the growing markets comes an increased focus for government bodies to ensure that these product categories are regulated. Ensuring compliance with international standards of quality, safety and claimed benefits has become a topic of intense discussion and action across the Asian region."
This publication is designed to address the region's regulatory systems and offer a tool to assist companies and authorities in navigating Asia's complex regulatory network for health supplements, fortified and functional food products.
According to the report, many Asian countries have developed or are developing regulations on nutrition labeling. "As in most other regions, the typical objective of the nutrition labelling regulations is to provide consumers with information to assist them in making healthy food choices and to encourage manufacturers to develop healthier food products," it says.
According to the report, mandatory labeling is required in Malaysia, South Korea, Taiwan and by July 1 1020 in Hong Kong. Voluntary labeling is Brunei Darussalam, China, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.
Global trade among these countries has stimulated a series of discussions and initiatives among the 10 member countries of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). "In the last five years, steps towards the ASEAN harmonisation of foods, health supplements and traditional medicines have been initiated. The harmonisation of technical requirements and standards, and the development of infrastructures in the areas of training and postmarketing surveillance, will be key factors in shaping the regulatory framework for marketing products across the ASEAN member countries. In the long term, this regional integration effort is likely to have a significant impact on other countries in the Asian region."
For companies, the ability to develop an effective market development strategy for their products is heavily dependent on understanding the existing and emerging legislative framework, and ensuring that their regulatory strategy is in line with this.