Special edition: LATAM

Obesity prevention key to Mexican vitamin & supplement market growth

By Maggie Hennessy

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Dietary supplements, Dietary supplement

Euromonitor, Naturex on vitamins and supplement growth in Mexico
Sales of vitamins and dietary supplements grew 9% in 2013 to reach Mx$15.7 billion ($1.2 billion) as increased visibility over the country’s main diseases have consumers thinking more about prevention, according to a report from Euromonitor International. 

Growing awareness of nutrition and prevention is already positively impacting sales of ingredients that help prevent and manage obesity, according to Naturex, a leading nutraceutical ingredient supplier to Mexico. 

Roughly 70% of Mexican adults are overweight or obese, and out of the 34 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Mexico has the highest rate of diabetics. In an effort to raise awareness about obesity-related disorders such as diabetes, heart and cardiovascular disease, as well as other common ailments like osteoporosis and osteoarthritis, the Mexican government has ramped up prevention-oriented public health campaigns with support from public and private clinics and hospitals.

“If you travel to Mexico, you can see a lot of campaigns about how it is important to get nutritious food and beverage and to be careful about high-sugar, high-fat products,” ​Guillaume Levade, sales director for Latin America at Naturex, told NutraIngredients-USA. "We’ve seen really increased awareness, and as a result, a lot of demand from vitamin and supplement manufacturers for ingredients that can tackle the issue of obesity.”

Naturex’s Svetol weight management ingredient (the most studied green coffee bean extract for weight loss and increased lean body mass) and glucose-regulating Glucevia (for diabetes) are thus performing well in Central America—and Mexico in particular.

Euromonitor likewise found that efforts to raise consumer awareness do appear to be positively impacting vitamin and supplement sales and expects consumption to continue to increase as the children of this burgeoning health-conscious culture get older and have children of their own. The market researcher estimates vitamin and supplement sales will reach Mx$19.3 billion ($1.5 billion) by 2018 on a compound annual growth rate of 4% over the next five years. 

Mexico heavily influenced by the US market

Vitamins and supplements’ 2013 growth slowed a bit from the 16% charted in 2012, due in part to weak economic growth, according to Euromonitor. As vitamins and supplements are not considered essential, they often suffer during times of weak economic growth, though the 2013 slowdown wasn’t enough to drive down the performance to the levels seen during the 2009 crisis.

Indeed, with 110 million of the 600 million Latin Americans living in Mexico, the country is a key strategic market for vitamins and supplements—particularly as incomes rise in this developing economy, according to Naturex. Moreover, the market’s proximity to the US means it’s heavily influenced by its northerly neighbor.

“The Mexican market is very different from other Latin American regions and markets because it’s very much influenced by the US,”​ Levade said. “For example, you can find some big retail players like GNC in Mexico, along with big multilevel marketing companies like Herbalife.That has a big impact on how vitamins and supplements are distributed, as opposed to the traditional way of word of mouth. GNC is a good example because the retail locations in Mexico are bringing in all the innovations of the US and vitamin and supplement markets. You can see a lot of imported supplements from the US in Mexico.”

Herbalife remains the brand leader of vitamins and dietary supplements with 31% market share in 2013. Dr Simi (Farmacias Similares) led multivitamins with 13% share in 2013, followed by Formula 2 Multivitaminico (Herbalife) with 9%, Prelox Azul (Herbalife) with 6%, Schizandra Plus (Herbalife) and Pharmaton (Boehringer Ingelheim) with 5% share each in the top five of multivitamins. Pharmaton and Biometrix were the most active advertisers, but Pharmaton’s campaign was stronger with well-known Mexican movie and TV actor Julio Bracho as spokesperson, according to Euromonitor.

The leader in pediatric vitamins and dietary supplements leader in 2013 was Boehringer Ingelheim (Kiddi Pharmaton) with 47% market share. GlaxoSmithKline (Emulsión de Scott) followed with 24% share. As Mexicans traditionally prefer syrup rather than pills or tablets, these two products took advantage. Kiddi Pharmaton is also available in chewables, which are more attractive to kids.

Multivitamins dominate vitamin category; calcium, protein lead supplements

Vitamins saw 9% sales growth in 2013, slightly slower than in the review period but still a strong performance. Multivitamins controlled 82% of market share in 2013, owing largely to the appeal of multiple benefits coming in a single product, Euromonitor said.

In Mexico, spring and summer are typically the strongest times of year for vitamin sales, as the products are sold by season. In autumn and winter, people look for cough and cold products. Vitamins products are sold in supermarkets, pharmacies and parapharmacies; only calcium supplements and folic acid are given in government clinics.

Dietary supplement sales grew 13% in 2013, an increase from 2012. Sales are expected to continue on a constant CAGR of 4% over the next five years. Mexican traditions and preferences saw herbal traditional dietary supplements post 7% value growth and non-herbal/traditional dietary supplements post 6% value growth.

The most popular dietary supplement was calcium supplements with 24% sales growth to reach reaching Mx$831 million in 2013. Euromonitor noted that calcium sales were undoubtedly impacted notably by public health campaigns for osteoporosis prevention and pregnancy health, as pregnancy multivitamins are more costly than calcium supplements.

Protein supplements comprised an impressive 36% market share that represented 15% value growth in 2013. As the Mexican population ages, protein becomes increasingly important to help elderly people remain in good physical condition when they are no longer able to exercise.

Combination products for sexual help were also popular in Mexico, given the prevalence of media advertising encouraging people to consume dietary supplements to “have more energy and improve their performance”​. Some problems in sexual performance are related to stress and tiredness, and 75% of working people in Mexico say they’re stressed, according to IMSS. Varicose veins in women, a condition related to being overweight, was also a key driver for supplement growth last year, Euromonitor found.

Owing to traditional wellness practices, aloe is the most popular product in Mexico; people mix it with water and drink it throughout the day because of its purported digestive benefits. Chlorophyll is similarly popular for this reason.

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