Expo East Preview

Tap into the Asian market
Asia represents enormous market potential and a substantial growth opportunity—that?s the theme of the second Natural Products Expo Asia in Hong Kong next month. According to Nutrition Business Journal, the total nutrition products market in Asia was worth $37.4 billion in 2001.

Natural Products Expo Asia
When: December 3-5
Where: Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre
Many factors are fuelling the growth of consumer demand for natural products in Asia, including recent large-scale poultry culls in Hong Kong and China and the high-profile product recalls of Pan Pharmaceuticals of Australia, one of Asia?s largest supplements contract manufacturers. These have both helped generate increased awareness of sources of food and nutritional products.

In addition, obesity is becoming a major problem in mainland China. Debates over pesticide and hormone use, and particularly GMOs, are raging throughout the region. Women have entered the work force in large numbers over the past decade, leaving less time for the preparation of meals. All this, plus the lack of a pharmaceutical remedy for SARS and similar viral illnesses in Asia, has forced consumers to pay more heed to personal immunity.

And of course, China is the world?s fastest-growing economy, Japan is second-largest, while the region includes six of the world?s most populous countries: China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Japan.

On the show floor
These factors bode well for the further development of the dietary supplements and functional foods industries in Asia, and Natural Products Expo Asia is expecting more than 200 exhibitors from 26 countries and 5,000 buyers from 51 countries to attend this year?s event.

In response to industry demand, sector-specific pavilions have been introduced on the show floor, dividing the event into five product areas: supplements, personal care products, herbal/Traditional Chinese Medicine/alternative remedies, natural and organic food, and raw ingredients and supply-related products and services.

Governments or associations from the US, Malaysia, New Zealand, China, Thailand and Italy have booked national pavilions for the event and India is also organising a pavilion. Many governments in Asia have specific national agendas and financial programmes in place to develop both the production and consumption of organic and natural products. Thailand, for example, has a ten-point national development plan that includes sustainable production.

?While the retail channel for natural products is nowhere near as developed in Asia as in the US or Europe presently, that is changing rapidly,? said Scott Griggs, managing director for Penton Media Asia, the show?s producer. ?Over the past three years, we?ve seen three high-end natural supermarkets enter or expand their business in Hong Kong, with one of these markets now offering 2,500 organic SKUs alone versus just 200 SKUs in 2001. And while the supplements sections of most pharmacies in Asia are still dominated by a few well-known full-line producers, we?re starting to see single-ailment products hit the shelves, particularly since the SARS outbreak,? Griggs added.

Supply issues
As China, and increasingly India, modernise and progress in their efforts to standardise and control quality, more and more international companies are looking to Asia as a primary source for low-cost raw materials. Asian companies seek foreign partners both for the cache and tacit quality seal of approval overseas production brings, as well as for technical expertise and marketing and packaging savvy.

Natural Products Expo Asia is the primary meeting place in Asia both for finished products companies looking to tap this dynamic market, and for those looking for suppliers of materials for Western markets.

The show is a good opportunity for companies seeking distributors and agents in Asia. The Appointment Setting programme will return in 2003 along with a new Distributors Wanted programme to assist overseas companies? efforts to penetrate Asian markets.

Regulatory issues, certification and standards highlight Expo Asia conference programme
The Expo Asia Conference, which runs concurrently with the show, has been designed to educate companies on the regulatory changes occurring in the United States and the European Union, while presenting timely information on industry developments in Greater China and Asia as a whole. This two-day programme will focus on four broad themes:

  • Market Trends
  • Regulation, Certification and Standards
  • Marketing, Branding and Packaging
  • The Herbal Industry in Asia

The programme will also incorporate special-interest topics including organics, sustainability, entrepreneurial ventures and investment.

Food safety security legislation ? impact of the 2002 US Bioterrorism Act
Loren Israelsen, President, LDI Group
The new Bioterrorism Act will have major implications for all participants in the production, packaging and distribution of food products for export to the US. Asian manufacturers, growers and shippers need to be prepared. The seminar will cover:

  • Overview of the Act
  • Detention of and inspection of products under the legislation
  • Registration requirements for global facilities and trademarks of exporters as well as detention of products for non-registration
  • Maintenance and inspection of exporter?s records
  • Prior notification requirements for foods exported to the US
  • Prohibitions against port shopping
  • Timetable for implementation and compliance of the regulation

Eliminating poor quality and dangerous raw materials through reference standards and analytical testing
Frank Jaksch, President & CEO, Chromadex
This session will address safety, quality and price issues. The implementation of DSHEA since 1994 has allowed 29,000 products that are less well controlled from the manufacturing perspective yet are not easily distinguishable from over-the-counter medications. Owing to arcane labelling restrictions, these products are disallowed from making meaningful claims concerning their effects.

Manufacturers of supplements frequently purchase the cheapest raw materials with no consideration of the efficacy and safety implications, but this issue will be addressed when FDA has implemented specific dietary supplement GMPs.

Through a series of case studies and real-world examples, delegates will learn:

  • Why suppliers that focus exclusively on cost, with no regard for quality and efficacy, will lose the US market for imported raw ingredients in the near future
  • Which nations stand to benefit and why
  • How governments can maintain and improve their market share in raw ingredients exports through enforcement of compliance with reference standards for raw ingredients
  • How companies complying with reference standards should market their compliance to benefit from the coming flight to quality by US manufacturers

Market trends: Industry overview
Patrick Rea, Research Director, Nutrition Business Journal

Patrick Rea will be sharing his insights on the US market with the most comprehensive and ultra-current research available. His cutting insights will delve to the heart of the real challenges and issues facing suppliers, manufacturers and retailers. Statistics lie, but not to Patrick Rea—the NBJ's top-notch team makes sense of the numbers at Expo Asia so you can plan for the future.

Exporting Asian products to the largest natural foods market in the world: North America
Kathy Pompliano, Business Development Manager, Dietary Supplements & Good Manufacturing Practices, NSF International

This session on standards development and product certification will explain what exporters need to know to pass the standards of US regulators. Specifically targeted at Asian producers of raw materials and supplement products, but applicable to all exporters, this session will cover:

  • Up-to-date information on regulatory issues concerning dietary supplements entering the US
  • Food safety and security regulations in exporting to the US
  • Dietary supplement certification ? what is it, what is it not?
  • ANSI (American National Standards Institute) Standard 173—why it is important to companies looking to enter the US and how to comply with its guidelines
  • GMPs—how to prepare a plant for a GMP audit
  • Organic certification—USDA rules
  • Analytical methods, reference standards and materials—their importance for raw materials suppliers.
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