A report done by the Hong Kong Trade and Development Council estimates that China’s health food and nutritional supplement market is worth more than USD 145 billion. The market is expected to grow continuously. Let’s look at some factors contributing to the industry’s rise.

Moving towards a middle class society
China has now a larger middle class than any other society. Despite the slowing down of GDP, the growth of China’s wages and household income remains strong. When people get richer, they are more aware of their health. Having a healthy life has increasingly become the middle class’s lifestyle. They begin to consume health supplements and vitamins in their daily lives. Chinese middle class also sees these products as luxury goods, available to those who can afford it.

An ageing population


China’s demographics are rapidly changing. By 2050, it is estimated that almost 30% of the population will be more than 65 years old. As people’s living standard continues to rise, the senior are paying more and more attention to staying healthy. Hence, health supplement products consumption is also expected to increase.

According to the abovementioned report, the middle-aged and the elderly’s health supplement products consumption accounts for more than 50% of the total consumption. This means that there are huge potential opportunities lying in the middle-aged and the elderly target segment.



The growing fear of the potential health problems caused by pollution has also encouraged the consumption of health supplement products. Huffingpost reported that more than one-third of the Chinese population are breathing “unhealthy air” regularly. The Chinese are aware that air pollution can cause a variety of health problems, like asthma, lung cancer, heart disease and stroke. Pollution leads to raising awareness of health problems, hence, the Chinese are more open to try health supplement products that they believe will make them healthier.

Confidence in foreign brands
Scandal of domestically produced food and health supplement products has led to deep skepticism amongst Chinese consumers. For example, in 2008, China dairy products were found tainted with melamine. The use of melamine in milk has killed six babies and made 300,000 sick. Since then, it has been a period of time that the Chinese would travel to Hong Kong and buy lots of baby milk powder there because of the quality control. It caused a shortage of baby milk powder for local consumption. In the end, the Hong Kong government had to implement a two-can limit of milk powder for people departing Hong Kong. The Chinese consumers have also looked to Europe like Germany and the Netherlands to buy infant formula there. These stories show that the Chinese consumers have more faith in foreign brands than the domestic brands.

Cross border e-commerce
In our previous post, we talked about how you can sell your products on Tmall or JD Global to reach your potential Chinese customers. One of the sales channels is to send your products directly from Norway to China through these online marketplaces. These cross border e-commerce platforms have made it easier for the Chinese consumers to buy foreign health products.

According to the the “Annual Report on Tmall Global Data 2016” done by Tmall Global and CBN Data, quality consciousness was one of the top three reasons for Chinese consumers to buy items from abroad. In addition, the report showed that the top five countries for cross border e-commerce were Japan, the US, South Korea, Germany and Australia. And guess what are the most popular items they bought from these countries? Apart from cosmetics, it was health supplement related products and baby formula.

Are you in the health supplement industry and want to market your products to China? Contact GoDigitalChina and let’s find out the best approach for you.

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Photo credit: associatesnow.com, Carnegie Europe