Dietary supplement market continues steady growth despite weak consumer sentiment

Based on a market report, less than 30% of Malaysians consume dietary supplements compared to S. Korea, Taiwan and Australia

by S BIRRUNTHA/ pic by BLOOMBERG

THE Malaysian market for dietary supplements continues to grow steadily every year despite weak business activity and consumers’ low level of acceptance.

Malaysian Dietary Supplement Association (MADSA) president Muthu Shanmunghom said currently, the market size of dietary supplements in the country showed an upward projection at RM2.27 billion.

“The market for nutritional supplements is estimated to be worth between RM1.78 billion and RM2.67 billion. However, its role in promotive and preventive healthcare is often poorly understood.

“If we are serious about shifting the focus to preventive healthcare, then we need to make supplements the first line. If they do not work, then we can use drugs,” he said at the “Media Forum: Trends of Malaysians Taking Dietary Supplements in 2019” in Petaling Jaya yesterday.

Based on a market report released by MADSA, less than 30% of Malaysians consume dietary supplements, compared to higher consumption rates in countries such as South Korea, Taiwan and Australia.

Meanwhile, Holista Group founder Datuk Dr Rajen Manicka said the global nutrition industry is growing to a recession every year.

“There are millions of people paying out of their pockets to buy these supplements despite the continued ‘thumbs down’ from the medical community.

“Additionally, there is outright opposition from the pharmaceutical industry against dietary supplements, and most of the regulators are not supportive of the market.

“We need to keep in mind that a bottle of supplement today is quite expensive and the purchase will not be reimbursed by your company or your insurance.

“But clearly, we can see the trend of people buying supplements because it works for them and people feel that their sources of food today are defective,” he said.

Recently, it was reported that there is a need for more supplement intake because the modern farming methods have depleted nutrients in the soil.

Dr Rajen said consumers should understand the concept of dietary supplements and that they will not cure a disease overnight.

“The benefits are there — 1g of fish oil could actually bring down sudden deaths by heart attack by 45% without any side effects.

“People today are also more concerned about the ‘back to nature’ movement, where they choose to consume supplements that are organic.

“I think what we can expect ahead for the dietary supplement market is we need scientific validation and to engage with regulators to get rid of the bad apples in the industry,” he said.

Based on the report, the fastest growing market segment thus far is cognitive, mental and mood supplements which recorded a 17.9% growth.

MADSA is determined to undertake several initiatives to engage the various government agencies to improve the healthcare of residents in Malaysia.