Dried toad and snakeskin: Old-school remedies cool China's vitamin fever

Tue Sep 22, 2015 5:00pm EDT
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* China vitamins market seen worth $20 bln by 2019

* Business spurring M&A deals, boosting shares

* But being outstripped by traditional medicine sales

* Traditional cures seen worth more than $40 bln by 2019

* Vitamin firms draw on old-school marketing tips, recipes

By Adam Jourdan and Donny Kwok

SHANGHAI/HONG KONG, Sept 23 (Reuters) - China's much-hyped market for vitamins and supplements is facing a steep challenge from traditional remedies from ginseng to deer antler, even as the sector's rise fuels billion-dollar deals and share price surges.

The vitamins market is set to expand five percent a year to $20 billion in 2019, half its pace of growth since 2009. It's being outstripped by a traditional medicine business that could be worth $40 billion by then - and is growing twice as fast.

That's prompted vitamins firms from direct seller Amway to giant U.S. drugmaker Pfizer Inc to look for inspiration from traditional medicine recipes going back thousands of years to succeed in China's increasingly pivotal healthcare market.   Continued...