Hong Kong - Country Commercial Guide
Dietary Supplements

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country.  Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2021-03-04

Overview

 

2017

 

2018
 

2019

 

2020 (estimated)

Total Market Size

10,801

2,910

3,540

9,504

Total Local Production

0

0

0

0

Total Exports

4,708

9,635

7,680

8,448

Total Imports

15,509

12,545

11,220

17,952

Imports from the U.S.

2,670

3,152

4,017

10,926

Exchange Rate: 1 USD

7.8

7.8

7.8

7.8

Total Market Size = (Total Local Production + Total Imports) – (Total Exports)

Units: USD Thousands

Data Sources:

Total Local Production: Estimated from industry sources

Total Exports: Hong Kong Trade Statistics

Total Imports: Hong Kong Trade Statistics

Imports from U.S.: Hong Kong Trade Data; 2019

Pie Chart; Hong Kong Imports of Dietary Supplements; US Share 36 per cent
Hong Kong Imports of Dietary Supplements; US Market Share

In 2019, China was Hong Kong’s the largest source of imports of vitamins (41 percent) followed by the U.S. (36 percent,) and Australia (6 percent).  About 50 percent of the vitamins imported into Hong Kong are re-exported, mostly to mainland China.  According to trade statistics from the Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department, in 2019 Hong Kong imported US$11 million worth of vitamins, of which $4 million were from the United States. Imports in 2020 are expected to grow by 60 percent as consumers stock up on immune-boosting supplements in the wake of the pandemic. 

Although Hong Kong only imported US$11million worth of vitamins in 2019, Euromonitor estimates that sales of vitamins and dietary supplements grew 2.7 percent to US$722 million.  Online sales feature prominently as consumers purchase dietary supplements through online sites or directly on the websites of U.S. brands.

Leading Sub-Sectors

Products with the best sales prospects in Hong Kong include:

  • Supplements that address effects of aging, boost immunity, and relieve pain
  • Supplements that target niche areas such as the eyes, heart, and ailments such as joint problems, digestive problems, skin allergies, and promoting sexual well-being
  • Supplements for weight management and for children
  • Multi-vitamins, including Vitamin C and Vitamin D
  • Plant-based supplements for vegans
  • Private labeling/OEM for retail chain stores and distributors

Opportunities

Hong Kong consumers are very brand conscious, and trust internationally renowned brands rather than local brands.  The country of origin is an important factor in consumers purchasing decisions and “Made in the U.S.” is often preferred. Probiotics and multi-vitamins are the leading growth segments, and typically brands that do well in the market are those that concentrate on these categories of supplements. Supplements that contain collagen, calcium, omega oils, vitamin C, B Complex, E, A &D, cod liver oils, and glucosamine are also popular.

The aging of the Hong Kong population is shaping demand for dietary supplements. Between 2018-2023, the age group of 65-79 is predicted to grow the fastest in Hong Kong.

Many Chinese tourists buy supplements in Hong Kong on the premise that products that are imported into Hong Kong are authentic and of higher quality. Chinese tourists often buy supplements in Hong Kong as gifts for family members, friends, or business associates, and products are sometimes procured for re-sale in China. Owing to import duties and other taxes and registration fees, the retail prices of dietary supplements are lower than those in China. In addition, many brands of supplements are unavailable in China, as the process to register these types of products can be more cumbersome.

American direct sellers such as Nu Skin, Usana, and Amway are among the largest players in the Hong Kong and Macau markets. Consumer trust in these U.S. brands has been a major factor in their widespread distribution. Unlike in mainland China, direct sellers are legitimate businesses in Hong Kong and Macau.

In December 2015, the Hong Kong Government’s Drug Office announced that most vitamins can be imported into Hong Kong without the need to be registered as pharmaceuticals.  Following this announcement, there was an influx of supply creating a “red ocean market” for dietary supplements, as one distributor described it. Distributors and brand owners need to invest heavily in advertising, promotion, and adaptations to product packaging, as well as in listing fees at leading retail chains.  To increase their margins, distributors are now exploring OEM and contract manufacturing opportunities for their own brands, and U.S. manufacturers are typically the preferred choice. 

Since dietary supplements are consumed orally, they are subject to the Hong Kong Government’s requirement for nutritional labeling.  If supplements contain ingredients that are commonly used in Chinese medicine, registration is required with the Chinese Medicine Regulatory Office.

The Hong Kong Hospital Authority procures vitamins through tenders, and they are mostly for Vitamins C, A, B Complex, calcium, iron soft gels, and pre-natal vitamins for women. 

Resources

Major trade show: 

Natural & Organic Products Asia 2020

This event showcases natural and organic foods, and health, beauty and natural living products from around the world, and offers an opportunity for attendees to learn about the latest trends in the industry.  U.S. companies regularly participate as exhibitors, mostly showcasing food and beverage products, dietary supplements, and personal care products.

Government Agencies and Associations:

The Hong Kong Health Food Association Ltd.

Department of Health, Drug Office

Provides guidance on whether a supplement requires registration, as well as registration of dietary supplements that are considered pharmaceuticals.

Center for Food Safety, Food and Environmental Hygiene Department

Labeling of nutrition and nutritional claims for products consumed orally.

Chinese Medicine Regulatory Office

Registration of products that contain ingredients commonly used in Chinese medicine.

 

For more information about this industry sector, please contact:

U.S. Commercial Service, Hong Kong

Swee-keng Cheong, Commercial Specialist

Email: sweekeng.cheong@trade.gov