Vitafoods Asia 2015 keeps Asian nutraceutical industry up to speed

Definitive event empowers participating companies to navigate market changes

Photo courtesy of Informa Exhibitions

Vitafoods Asia, the only event dedicated to the nutraceutical, functional food, beverage and dietary supplement industries in Asia, recently welcomed trade professionals to the innovation-packed exhibition and conference at the AsiaWorld-Expo.

During the two-day event, visitors from across the region gained access to the latest ingredients and raw materials from more than 150 international exhibiting companies, as well as a plethora of complimentary and paid-for learning opportunities.

In the past 4 years, Vitafoods Asia has flourished to become a focal point for the Asia Pacific market, with industry professionals acknowledging it as a launch pad for new ideas and a conduit for business and knowledge-exchange.

Mr Chris Lee, Portfolio Director of Vitafoods Events, said: 'The industry is expectant as it congregates here each time and the positive vibe is obvious across the show floor. This year, regulatory changes in the region suggest greater prospects in growth for the functional food and supplement markets. Based on the activity we’ve seen, the show is reinforcing its status as the preferred platform with the best business and learning opportunities.'

Regulatory updates in the region: ASEAN, China and Japan

In Southeast Asia, the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (AFTA) has undergone enhancements in recent years, which saw the easing of Rules of Origin (ROO) compliance and administration. By 2015, ASEAN member states are obliged to eliminate tariffs on more than 99% of all products traded within the region, according preferential tariff treatment to goods originating from ASEAN countries and facilitating increased intra-ASEAN trade.

This implies a simpler, quicker process for companies looking to obtain tariff savings, as ASEAN continues to streamline its documents and certification procedures for the AFTA.

Elsewhere in China and Japan, regulatory changes in dietary reference intakes and health claims give the omega-3 industry a boost. Mr Adam Ismail, Executive Director, Global Organisation for EPA and DHA Omega-3s (GOED), revealed: 'Asia has been the leading growth market for omega-3s globally, outperforming expectations dramatically. In fact, it looks on pace to overtake Europe within the next few years. We’re excited to lead a contingent to Vitafoods Asia for the first time, and we anticipate positive results during our 2 days here.'

In a long-awaited move, the Chinese Nutrition Society has established official Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) for EPA and DHA. According to the Handbook of Chinese DRIs 2013, the recommended EPA and DHA intake for adults is between 250 and 2000mg per day. The publication also established adequate intake levels for specific populations of children from birth to 4 years (100mg/day of DHA) and pregnant and lactating women (250mg/day of EPA+DHA, of which 200 mg should be DHA).

Japan’s Consumer Affairs Agency (CAA) formally adopted a new category – Foods with Function Claims – for foods with health claims. Existing categories of Foods for Specified Health Uses (FOSHU) and Foods with Nutrient Function Claims (FNFC) remain unchanged. The new category permits manufacturers to make claims about the health benefit of the finished product or active ingredient without performing clinical trials on finished products if a notification with appropriate scientific substantiation is submitted to the CAA at least 60 days prior to the product launch.

Specifically, foods whose active ingredient is EPA or DHA fall into this new category, making it easier for companies with relevant products to trade in Japan.

Making a first-time appearance: ingredients, products and awards

Garnering much attention on the show floor were some exhibitors with brand new ingredient and finished product launches. Korea-based Braintropia chose Vitafoods Asia as a platform to unveil its NewCell 365 – a liquid formulation with root extracts of Polygala tenuifolia Willdenow, which is widely accepted for its memory enhancing claims.

Mr Hyung Ku Lee, Sales and Marketing Director, Braintropia, shared: 'We decided to make our debut here at Vitafoods Asia because of the specialist audience that the show attracts. By being here, we maximise the impact of our launch, especially as the visitor profile is our target audience.'

Photo courtesy of Informa Exhibitions

Also choosing to launch its new ingredient innovation at the show was Spanish biotech company Monteloeder SL, which developed MetabolAid, a clinically tested, proprietary natural formula of Lippia citrodora (Lemon Verbena) and Hibiscus sabdarifa (Hibiscus) extracts that prevents and treats conditions related to metabolic syndrome.

Separately, in the finished products category, Manuka Health New Zealand introduced its naturally boosted Manuka Honey dietary supplements to the market for the first time. Packed with cyclodextrins, the Manuka Honey CycloPower Capsules and Chewable Tablets possess elevated levels of bioactivity and are designed to improve digestive health and mouth/throat health respectively.

Elsewhere, the Tasting Bar also receives much attention from visitors and exhibitors. Located within the Finished Products Pavilion, the bar is where attendees sample and compare a selection of the many finished products on display at the show. For the first time ever, attendees had the opportunity to select the best-tasting items for the Best Functional Food and Best Functional Beverage Awards.

Guangdong-based Ms Evian Huang, Product Marketing Assistant, Perfect (China) Ltd, commented: 'The awards are an interesting addition to the show and I’ve not seen it at any of the other domestic shows that I attend. It’s great that the audience decides on the award, because exhibitors are given direct feedback on how tasty their products are. Hopefully, this encourages companies to raise their standards too, which ultimately propels the industry forward.'

Enhanced learning opportunities: current and interactive

As part of its efforts to achieve business growth for buyers and manufactuers alike, Vitafoods Asia initiated the new Global Market Theatre, where attendees are offered thorough market overviews, regulatory framework workshops, as well as the latest advances in R&D.

Presented as how-to guides, these complimentary sessions empower visitors with the knowledge to plan their market entry strategies for specific countries (China, Japan, Indonesia, and Malaysia) and regions (Europe and the USA).

Mr Roger Olsen, General Manager, Atlantic Delights, expressed: 'I was particularly interested in the sessions on China, as I wanted to learn more about trends, regulations and market entry. It was a fruitful session and I ended up gathering more information than expected.'

Another aspect of the event’s education programme that offers attendees more depth and breadth is the second edition of the Vitafoods Asia Conference. Running alongside the exhibition, this year’s conference focused on the theme of ‘translating science into good business,’ with content divided into two distinct, parallel streams covering hot topics such as weight management, preventive health, nutricosmetics and probiotics.

Mr James Tonkin, President, HealthyBrandBuilders, said: 'I enjoyed the sessions at the conference, and I see a real desire and hunger for knowledge here in Asia. This was evident in the overwhelming number of questions I received after my session earlier in the day. The quality of delegates is excellent and I was glad to see attendees coming from outside of the region.'

The sixth edition of Vitafoods Asia will be held on 1-2 September 2016 at the AsiaWorld-Expo, Hong Kong.

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