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[Herald Interview] Well-being market on the rise in aging society: Amway scientist

Thanks to improvements in diet, sanitation, technology and medical advancements, the average life expectancy has surged dramatically worldwide over the past decades. Those born in the developed countries are now expected to live past 80, according to recent data by the National Institute on Aging.

Faced with changing priorities and a longer lifespan, people around the globe are focusing more on their health than ever before, seeking to improve their quality of life through various measures, according to Dr. Sheri Hunt, senior principal research scientist at the health and beauty new technology team at Nutrilite, Amway’s leading dietary supplement brand.

“The global trend is that the health industry and health considerations seem to be accelerating. Unlike the past, people now prioritize health over their job or indulgence (in alcohol or unhealthy foods),” Hunt told The Korea Herald in an interview after Amway Korea’s “2015 Wellness Symposium” held in Seoul on Friday as part of the 10th Bio Korea International Convention.

Dr. Sheri Hunt, senior principal scientist at the health and beauty new technology team at Amway’s dietary supplement brand Nutrilite. (Yoon Byung-chan/The Korea Herald)
Dr. Sheri Hunt, senior principal scientist at the health and beauty new technology team at Amway’s dietary supplement brand Nutrilite. (Yoon Byung-chan/The Korea Herald)

As health concerns rise globally, the demand for dietary supplements has also been growing at a rapid pace. As of 2012, the global nutrition and supplements market stood at $96 billion, the Nutrition Business Journal report said.

By region, the Asia-Pacific is the largest market for dietary supplements, with a growing preference toward nutritional diets.

South Korea, driven by a health-conscious public, ranks as the industry’s fourth-largest market by value in the world, according to Euromonitor International, a market research firm.

Nutrilite is a key brand competing over health-conscious Koreans in the health supplements sector. The brand recorded a yearly net profit of roughly 400 billion won ($364 million) in 2013, with its bestselling product “Double-X” ― currently priced at 83,000 won per package ― taking up 23 percent of the profits at 93.6 billion won.

“I think that the Korean consumer is very educated and it allows them to be more discerning as a consumer than those in other regions of the world that we work in. It means that they can make more correct decisions with data regarding their health,” Hunt said.

“We find this market to be very advanced with very smart consumers. We are really looking to explore novel opportunities first here and then later for the globe,” she said. “If a product resonates and sells well here, it’s a good idea.”

Nutrilite specializes in producing multivitamins and supplements using all-organic plants grown on their self-established farms in the U.S., Mexico and Brazil.

“Around 60 to 87 percent of men and women globally do not meet the WHO’s recommended minimum of five servings of fruits and vegetables, 400g, per day,” Hunt said, referring to the 2014 Global Phytonutrient Report by the Nutrilite Health Institute.

“We need to really be thinking about how these vegetables are consumed by us, and if they’re not getting to you through your diet, there has to be a way for it to come to you,” the Nutrilite scientist said, emphasizing the need for filling the gaps in people’s diets through vitamins.

In response to public skepticism about the effectiveness of dietary supplements and multivitamins in enhancing health, Hunt noted that that the Nutrilite Health Institute unlike other vitamin companies, conducts two double-blind placebo control clinical trials on each of its products to confirm and maximize their effectiveness.

“You don’t realize that you (felt) better until you stop taking them,” she said.

By Sohn Ji-young (jys@heraldcorp.com)
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