Food supplement markets in Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria and Slovakia have pushed through the €1bn mark for the first time, with Romania starring with 24% growth in 2011, says a new report.
PMR noted the overall growth across the six countries had slowed slightly to 7%, but it would pick up to 7.6% between 2012 and 2014.
Bulgaria grew 11.9%, Slovakia 10.9%, Poland 6.2% and Hungary 4.1%.
While Romania was the fastest growing market it had the lowest per capita spend on food supplements, while the slowest growing market (3.5%), the Czech Republic, had the hihest per capita spend. The actual figures were not released.
“The situation will not have changed significantly by 2014. The Czech Republic will remain the most highly developed dietary supplement market in the region,” said Agnieszka Skonieczna, PMR senior pharmaceutical market analyst.
“The most attractive market in the next three years in the region, among the countries analysed, taking forecast market growth into account, will be Romania.”
PMR said the European Union nutrition and health claims regulation (NHCR) which has banned 1700 health claims, would not have a significant effect on the central and eastern markets that typically had very strict claims regimes in place anyway.
“According to companies interviewed by PMR specifically for the purposes of the report, new health claims regulations will not have as substantial an effect on the dietary supplement market as would have been expected,” said Monika Stefanczyk, PMR head pharmaceutical market analyst.
PMR noted that botanical health claims – applications for which have been put on hold at EU level – remained unchanged.
“For example, the regulation does not affect products which have herb-based active ingredients, and there are many such products on the Hungarian market - including vitamins combined with herbs - which still can be sold with the old labelling.”
The report found Bulgarian companies expected initial difficulties from the NHCR before delivering positive changes long-term but feared for competition effects.
“Most of the changes will affect small producers and should lead to a reduction in unfair competition.”
Slovakian firms said most products would become compliant with few withdrawals.
Merger activity in 2011 included Polish player Laboratoria Natury being sold to Israeli company Maabarot Products.
Herbapol-Lublin bought shares in Bio-Active and Herbapol Pruszkow while Valeant Pharmaceuticals-owned PharmaSwiss, bought brands from Polish firm VitaDirect.
Mid Europa Partners, a private equity fund, agreed to buy a 50% stake in Walmark, the Czech supplements giant.
Romanian firm Labormed sold part of its portfolio to Italian drug maker Recordati.