The firm reported that its Seven Seas division, the UK's leading supplement brand, had a strong rise in sales during the second quarter, mainly due to good development of the cod liver oil business.
There are 18 different Seven Seas Cod Liver Oil products, including a recently introduced Extra High Strength product, and a Pulse range that offers high omega-3 fatty acids. Cod liver oil is one of the best selling supplements in the UK market where the Seven Seas brand has a 21 per cent share of the total VMS category.
The 16 per cent rise in sales at Merck's consumer healthcare division - to €90 million, slightly ahead of sales figures for the first quarter - was also helped by Bion3, which contains vitamins, minerals and probiotic cultures, and good sales of dermatological products on the French market.
In Latin America however, where markets like Mexico and Venezuela have been experiencing good sales growth, the 16 per cent rise in organic sales was almost entirely eroded by strong currency effects, reported the group.
Consumer healthcare remains one of the smaller divisions of Merck KgaA, which reported second quarter sales of €1.4 billion, up 9 per cent on the previous year's same quarter.
Its biggest competitor in the vitamins sector in the UK, Roche consumer health, has recently been acquired by Bayer, for €2.38 billion.
In contrast with the 12 per cent rise in sales in Merck's first quarter, the Roche consumer business saw sales growth of 5 per cent over the same period. But the business has been growing, with sales up 12 per cent last year to around SF1.6 billion.
Roche had a 12 per cent share of the UK's vitamin and minerals market in 2002, according to Mintel research.