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People's Daily Online>>China Business

Market set to be world's largest

By Liu Jie (China Daily)

13:19, April 18, 2012

Visitors examine health products at the Jinan Drugs and Health Products Fair in Shandong province on May 17, 2011. China's health products market is projected to be the largest globally in 2015. [Photo/China Daily]

China will use more health products than the United States in 2015, making it the largest market for such products in the world.

That's what Meng Dongping, vice-president of the China Chamber of Commerce for Import & Export of Medicines & Health Products, said recently.

In the meantime, the industry will remain one of the most active in China in foreign trade, measured by both imports and exports, she said.

Various Chinese and overseas corporations have moved to meet the demand arising from the country's young middle class, which is becoming increasingly aware of the importance of good health.

The value of the health products and services sector in China is expected to reach 450 billion yuan (more than $70 billion) in 2015. Last year, more than 260 billion yuan in health foods alone were sold in the country, according to the National Development and Reform Commission's Public Nutrition and Development Center.

Meng's forecast, no matter how optimistic it may be, looks modest when it is compared with one made by the China Investment Consulting Co Ltd, which said China won't have to wait until 2015 to use more health products than the US. It will become the largest market for those products this year, the company said.

Why the difference in forecasts?

One reason is that various means of measuring the country's use of health products are in use, each of which looks at different data. Most of them come with no clear definitions of what products and services they take account of and what they don't. But every one of them results in measures that are in the billions in yuan.

One common definition places health products into three groups: products that are made from medicinal herbs and produced according to the principles of traditional Chinese medicine, nutritional supplements made from natural resources and biological extracts made in accordance with the tenets of biology.

In addition, the sale of health improvement devices and services also generates billions of yuan a year; the market research company China Investment Consulting Co Ltd puts the figure at 300 billion yuan a year.

Of the health products in the three groups, those that fall into the first are the most popular, Meng said. They are both natural and, because of their long history, familiar to most customers, she explained.

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