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Inflation likely to moderate strong growth of supplements market in Argentina

By Hank Schultz contact

- Last updated on GMT

Inflation likely to moderate strong growth of supplements market in Argentina

Related tags: Dietary supplements

The dietary supplement market in Argentina is thriving despite import barriers and economic uncertainty caused by inflation, according to a recent report by Euromonitor.  The forecast for the immediate future is continued growth, albeit it at a slower pace.

The market for supplements in Argentina grew by 19% by one measure in 2013 to hit $60.1 million (ARS 506 million), according to the report, though it did say the effect of local inflation may overstate that figure somewhat. One reason the Argentinian market thrives is because of a light regulation hand, according to one market watcher.

Low regulation within the country, high regulation without

“The government and legislation surrounding dietary supplements in Argentina is conducive to growth. Compared to other South American countries (Brazil, in particular) and countries around the world (i.e. Japan, USA), the legislation surrounding dietary supplements in Argentina is not as bureaucratic or cumbersome to this industry,” ​Lara Niemann told NutraIngredients-USA. Niemann is marketing director for the Americas for gelatine supplier Gelita.

But this growth is enjoyed primarily by in-country firms. That light hand of regulation grows heavy at the border. The government has put significant import barriers in place that complicate the export of finished products to that country.

“Import barriers limit growth as top international brands and companies find it difficult to get products into the country,” ​the Euromonitor report stated.

“As imports in to Argentina are more challenging, local producers are expanding their businesses with opportunity to place high values on their products, with limited competition from ‘outsiders,’ ”​ Niemann said.

Support through advertising

The market  in Argentina has been strong for supplements for several years.  From Gelita’s point of view, it is the demand for delivery systems that tells the tale.

“As many vitamins and dietary supplements are delivered via capsules, the Argentine gelatine market for capsules increased by double digits from 2012 to 2013 to support increased local production,”  ​Niemann said.

Vitamins were the strongest sector within the overall picture, followed by omega supplements (3-6-9), both fish and non fish forms.  The market tends also to be top heavy; half the players with significant value shares captured 80% of the market, Euromonitor said.

Growth was driven largely by advertising, which fits in well with the market’s overall structure as bigger brands are the ones most likely to be able to afford large ad budgets.

“Brands and their television advertisements drove growth; they focus on products’ effectiveness when consumed daily. Vitamins continue to gain penetration among local consumers although at a moderate rate due to the economic environment and contracting purchasing power,” ​Euromonitor said.

Shrugging off economic uncertainty

Argentina has suffered some severe economic setbacks in recent years.  On the international stage, the country has been locked in a debt restructuring crisis, with the country entering its second technical state of default in the last 12 years on its international bonds after restructuring talks with US bondholders failed.  The crisis has reignited Argentina’s ever latent tendency toward inflation. Inflation ran above 10% in the country last year and has totaled 18.2% from January to August this year, according to figures quoted last week in The Economist.

Despite this uncertainty, Argentinian businesses seemed trained to cope. According to George Pontiakos, CEO of BI Nutracueticals which for years has sourced ingredients in Argentina (primarily chia seed), businesses there take economic vicissitudes in stride.

“Look, inflation affects everything. Even here; have you looked at the gas pump lately? But the people we work with in Argentina understand the commodity markets. We pay in US dollars, and they have a model that seems to work.” ​Pontiakos said.

But if the crisis worsens it could eventually start to restrain growth for supplements in the country, Niemann said. 

“Argentina is suffering from inflation and weak economic conditions. Our history in this market indicates that in times of economic hardship, consumers may not opt to spend discretionary income on dietary supplements (and may look to gaining nutrients from food, for example). That said, the upper (and middle class, to some degree) will continue to invest in better management of their own health - and will continue to consume dietary supplements,”​ she said. 

Euromonitor said the market is likely to quiet down in the near future, thought it expects solid single digit growth to continue.

“Vitamins and dietary supplements are expected to register a CAGR of 6% at constant 2013 prices over the forecast period,”​ the report said.

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