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New trade association ALANUR helps develop Latin American supplement market

Latin America could be the world's next hot supplement market, and the Latin American Responsible Nutrition Alliance (ALANUR) is now in place to clear the regulatory roads.

On May 30, 2012, representatives from four global supplement companies—DSM, Herbalife, Omnilife and Amway—met in Sao Paulo for the launch of Latin America’s first regional supplement trade association, the Latin American Responsible Nutrition Alliance (ALANUR).

The association will confer with state officials to pass on scientific and technical information regarding supplements in the hopes of developing suitable regulatory frameworks for the products.

As the Latin American supplement market has developed, the need also has developed for a strong, competent association to facilitate communication between industry and regulators. Supplement regulation in Latin American countries tends to be disparate, un- or under-developed, and existing trade associations lack the resources or technical knowledge to help propel the market.

“It has been our experience that the level of competence and effect of the supplement associations in individual South American countries is not very good,” said John Venardos, senior vice president of worldwide regulatory affairs for global multi-level marketer Herbalife. “Most of them do not operate with a full-time staff, as you would see here in the United States.”

Dr. Tatiana Pires, director of scientific and regulatory government affairs at Herbalife and a member of Venardos’s staff, is first chair of ALANUR. “Our focus is to work towards ensuring regulatory guidelines that are appropriate to the specific characteristics of our products,” Pires said in a statement. “[These] regulations will cover a broad range of safe ingredients with sufficient consumer information and appropriate manufacturing standards and technical requirements.”

Upper limits & botanicals

One of the key regulatory issues for companies operating in Latin America is the question of maximum allowable dosages for specific nutrients. Many markets, including Brazil, Mexico and Venezuela, set upper limits for ingredients at the country’s recommended daily allowance (RDA), rather than at their upper safety limit, as in the United States.

For example, any company looking to export a multivitamin from the United States to Brazil would have to first change the formulation to bring all ingredient dosages down to Brazil’s RDA for each.

Another key issue is the regulatory status of herbs & botanicals, which many countries designate as phytomedicines and regulate as drugs.

ALANUR will discuss these issues and more in regulatory workshops—organized with support from the International Alliance of Dietary Supplement Associations (IADSA)—this year in Colombia, Venezuela and Central America.

Why Latin America?

The collective pooling of the resources of Herbalife, Omnilife, DSM and Amway to form ALANUR speaks to the fact that Latin America is growing in importance for the global supplement market.

For example, according to public filings, Mexico and South & Central America are Herbalife’s third- and fourth-largest geographic markets, respectively, and together accounted for $1.3 billion in 2011 sales, or 32 percent of total global revenue that year.

And marketers worldwide are increasingly looking to Brazil (the B in BRIC) as the next hot market for dietary supplements. With a growing middle class and a culture that appreciates physical beauty, Brazil shows specific promise for sports nutrition and nutricosmetic products.

According to Nutrition Business Journal research, Latin American supplement sales grew 13 percent in 2010, climbing to just under $5 billion. NBJ forecasts similar strong growth for this region in the near future.

For more on ALANUR, opportunities in Latin America, and the challenges of harmonizing global supplement regulation, see NBJ’s Q&A with John Venardos in our upcoming U.S. Nutrition Market Overview issue, which publishes in July.

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