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Compared to other mature markets such as Europe and the United States, APAC is a growing market for micronutrient consumption and production.
According to a UNICEF report, 52 million children under the age of five live in the East Asia and Pacific region. In APAC, one in every two children suffers from some form of micronutrient deficiency. Micronutrient deficiency is one of the most prevalent health issues that many areas, primarily developing and underdeveloped areas, struggle with. Micronutrients, as the name implies, are needed in smaller amounts for the body’s general growth and nourishment, preventing any kind of deficiency. The most prevalent micronutrients include vitamins, minerals, selenium, copper, iodine, and others.
The underlying reason for APAC’s growing share of the micronutrient market is malnourishment. Iron, vitamin A, vitamin B12, zinc, and iodine deficiencies are common in APAC. Not only this, but the COVID-19 pandemic also increased demand for micronutrients as people began paying more attention to their general health and well-being.
As a result, all major players and emerging brands are now introducing healthier nutrition products to the APAC market. From dairy foods and breakfast cereals to prepared meals, sports/energy drinks, snacks, and more, a variety of food, drink, and nutrition products in the APAC market now include added vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients.
Micronutrient Market Segmentation in APAC
China is one of the top importers of vitamins. Many major micronutrient-rich foods are now launched in China, spanning everything from rice cookies, fresh milk with added protein, and nutrient-dense cereal formulated for seniors. Around 60% of China’s vitamin imports comes from various nations around the world, including Japan, South Korea, Australia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Pakistan.
Meanwhile, in Japan, more than 75% of the population consumes dietary supplements, making it one of the health-conscious countries, with a remarkable longevity rate. Japan is involved in the production of lipids and imports the majority of its vitamins from South Korea, China, and India at an estimated volume of over 18,000 metric tons. Japan hosts an active pharmaceuticals market as a result of the population’s intense focus on upholding high standards for appearance and health.
And it is projected that in 2022 in South Korea, more than 17% of the South Korean population will be elderly, which significantly impacts the market dynamics for micronutrients. Given that the elderly population is projected to grow over the next few years, South Korea’s pharmaceutical industry is clearly experiencing growth. People are spending more money on high-end products, particularly in the infant formula market, which is driving up the demand and consumption of omega-3 and omega-6 lipids. The same trend can be seen in the pharmaceutical and dietary supplement industries, which have been steadily expanding in South Korea due to the country’s strict beauty and health standards.
India, a developing nation that is expanding in all areas, is a growing market when it comes to micronutrients. Whether it be infant formula, dietary supplements, sports, or energy drinks, the country has been investing in and anticipating buying premium goods, making it a lucrative market. The nation’s consistent import, export, and production levels maintain a balance throughout the entire life cycle of the trade dynamics. Pharmaceuticals and dietary supplements are two of the top segments that could experience double-digit CAGR growth over the next two years. Lipids are a growing market for infant formula, dietary supplements, and pharmaceuticals; however, carotenoids see lower demand. The pandemic also significantly altered trade dynamics in India. Today, the majority of vitamin imports come from China, Taiwan, and Germany.
Over the last year, the growth of micronutrient products in India has been phenomenal. Launches have occurred in a variety of subcategories, including in breakfast cereals, nutritional drinks, snacks, sweeteners, bakery, and others. Flavored nutrition drinks for expecting mothers, whole wheat–fortified flour, personalized protein powder, little millet, and other new products were also introduced in 2022.
Many Asia-Pacific countries are densely populated and have poor living conditions. Some governments, such as Bangladesh, have banned energy drinks and deemed other supplements as unnecessary, making it difficult for producers to provide high-quality products to those in need. Imports from Pakistan and Bangladesh make up one-tenth of what India imports, demonstrating how badly the market needs to shift and shape up to meet micronutrient deficiency needs.
Southeast Asian countries show the best market growth, given how the population is moving toward a better and healthier lifestyle and how many nations have severe vitamin deficiencies in both men and women. When it comes to micronutrients, few Southeast Asian countries invest in producing or establishing an export network, preferring instead to import all essential lipids, carotenoids, and vitamins from major exporters such as China, India, Germany, and Switzerland.
In countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia, there are mandates and recommendations for fortifying certain food staples such as milk, yogurt, flour, and so on. Here, a combination of vitamins A, B, C, and D is used to increase the nutritional value of a product. A large number of Malaysians are vitamin D deficient, which has increased demand for fortified foods such as oils, hot drinks, and energy drinks in order to improve quality of life. The government of Thailand has mandated milk fortification, and there is also a suggested fortification requirement for noodles and condiments, among other things. Vitamin A and D deficiencies are quite common and widespread in Thai people, as local beauty standards lead people to avoid sun exposure, resulting in many bone diseases and prompting the government to make vitamin D fortification mandatory in certain food categories. The lipids and carotenoids market has the potential to expand, particularly in the infant formula and pharmaceutical categories.
Over 40% of Australians take vitamin or micronutrient supplements—primarily vitamin D, omega-6 fatty acids, vitamin C, vitamin B, and lutein. The micronutrient market in the country is thriving, with imports from China meeting more than two-thirds of Australia’s import demand for vitamin C, vitamin E, carotenoids, and so on. The country’s dietary supplement consumption volume exceeds 3,000 metric tons and will grow at a CAGR of more than 7% over the next two years. Australia exports its products to China and India, where it has good trade relations, including for DHA-rich tuna and arachidonic acid (ARA).
New Zealand is an export-heavy country. Over 90% of the country’s total daily output is exported to APAC and the rest of the world. In New Zealand, a wide range of vitamin D and vitamin K–fortified products are available, providing health benefits such as increased bone density. New Zealand is one of the biggest producers of infant formula, using a variety of micronutrients such as vitamins A, D3, E, K1, B6, C, B2, and so on, particularly in exports to countries such as China. However, the country imports vitamins C, B12, and B6 from China. The country also exports dietary supplements to Australia, China, and other countries. Although micronutrients usage is growing steadily in the country, lipids have a significant advantage, with a CAGR of around 9% for infant formula, over 10% for dietary supplements, and around 8% for pharmaceuticals by 2025.
High Growth Potential
When compared to other mature markets such as Europe and the United States, APAC is a growing market for micronutrient consumption and production. Many countries have thriving markets in almost every segment, while others are still struggling to introduce micronutrient-rich food groups to their significantly impoverished populations. APAC has a high level of need and demand, making it one of the most important markets to monitor for viable future growth in micronutrients.
About the author
Jasleen Kaur (email@example.com) is a content lead and brand manager for ChemBizR. ChemBizR is a boutique business research and consulting partner of chemical companies globally, involved in addressing companies’ critical business challenges and strategic growth initiatives to help them transform their enterprise for sustainable growth in a highly competitive and rapidly evolving environment. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.