Global market for ingredients

China is becoming the world?s supplements ingredients breadbasket, a situation fed by the country?s vast agricultural resources, low wages, improved manufacturing practices and increasing input from Western companies.

Depending on the commodity, Chinese ingredients can be 30-75 per cent cheaper than their Western-made counterparts, according to Nutrition Business Journal, and major companies like Perrigo, BASF, DSM, Degussa, Danisco, Leiner and Pharmavite are sourcing raw ingredients or establishing operations there.

Indeed, loosening foreign ownership laws have seen an influx of Western activity in China, including establishing joint ventures or contracting Chinese consultants to establish Far East operations.

Technological limitations once kept the Chinese out of certain categories, but Chinese manufacturers have contracted with Western consultants to design state-of-the-art factories and establish quality-control protocols, putting virtually every known ingredient within their reach.

The argument that Chinese ingredients such as creatine or vitamin C were inferior is increasingly ringing untrue as government-backed quality controls have been implemented in recent years. Many Chinese manufacturers are going beyond these, meeting quality standards established in other countries like the US.

The Chinese are also consuming more supplements. Market analysts predict that the 18 per cent per annum rate of increase in consumption, which has held for the last decade, will continue for some years to come.

Supplements sales also have been boosted by the outbreak of bird flu in Asia.

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