How to tap into the growing Chinese appetite for fish oils

“Demand by consumers is rising very quickly because the Chinese economic landscape is improving, and people are aware of health requirements; they want a healthy and beautiful life,” Tracy Li, executive vice president at China Nutrition and Health Food Association (CNHFA), told delegates at the GOED Exchange earlier this month.

She stressed the importance of preventative health care in the country.

“The number of elderly people is rising quickly, and older people will always think about how to increase their life span,” she said. “At the same time, younger consumers have more requirement for health and nutrition.”

In 2022, China’s health products market reached 230 billion yuan, ranking second in the world and the scale is expected to exceed 300 billion yuan by 2028.

Li noted that the pandemic particularly accelerated interest in immune health, family health and sports and fitness—with consumers now expressing a heightened interest in botanicals, probiotics, fish oil and Q10, as well as greater personalisation and innovative dosage forms and packaging.

Health food registration

“China is full of opportunity for health and nutrition but the policy on healthy food is challenging for international companies,” Li said, adding that fish oil appears on the Chinese market under the ‘Health Food’ (aka ‘special food’) legal category in China, referring to foods that claim to have specific health functions or supply vitamins and minerals.

Health food products can be marketed via healthcare routes such as pharmacies and claim to regulate the body’s functions but cannot make disease treatment claims.

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