The food supplements market in Egypt is estimated at $500 million. Egypt’s high population and rising health awareness stimulate demand for healthcare products. The Nutrition Institute and the Drug Planning and/or Policy Center of the Ministry of Health are responsible for registering and approving all food supplements and dietary foods, depending on their finished form. Food supplements are prohibited from importation into Egypt in their finished form, only as ingredients for local manufacturing or as raw materials. All raw materials are imported. Hence, the Egyptian supplements market offers significant opportunities for U.S. exporters of raw materials used in nutritional supplements. The annual growth rate for vitamins, minerals and other food supplements is estimated at 15-20%. The market is open for U.S. suppliers of raw materials for supplements or for U.S. companies interested in selling products via licensed production in Egypt.
Egypt is the largest producer and consumer of pharmaceutical products in the MENA region, with 364 registered companies producing a wide array of drugs. Industry sources estimate the annual growth rate for vitamins, minerals and other food supplements at 15-20%.
One of the major driving forces for the growth of the food supplements market in Egypt is the large population. With a population exceeding 78 million, Egypt is the largest country in the Middle East/North African region. The increasing population, growing annually at a rate of around 2%, creates a constant demand for healthcare products. The growing popularity of “back-to-nature” products has boosted the demand for health foods, dietary supplements and herbal products in Egypt. Egyptian consumers are buying more natural products because they perceive that these products have fewer side effects and have health prevention effects.
Moreover, increasing health awareness, born of greater urbanization and rise in income along with exposure to international media, has increased demand for food supplement drugs such as vitamins and remedies for various common ailments. With a population that is expected to increase by 50% to 112 million by 2025 as life expectancy increases, Egypt represents a golden opportunity to long-term investors, especially in the food supplements industry.
Food supplements in many varieties have started to be marketed in Egypt, including single ingredient products and various combinations of vitamins, minerals, botanicals and other constituents. An increasing number of pharmacies and hypermarkets are starting to carry nutritional supplements and selling organic products. Word-of-mouth is widely used in Egypt for beauty products (special formula), i.e. sliming products, fat burners, detoxification for beauty, etc.
Egypt’s market segments will continue to experience strong growth due to recent scientific research findings suggesting potential health benefits from regular consumption of vitamins and other food supplement products. The large population, the growing national trend toward preventive medicine in response to rising healthcare costs, the increasing health awareness, and the heightened understanding of the connection between diet and health are all factors that have increased demand for preventative vitamins and dietary food supplements.
Although the industry has grown in the past few years and despite the favorable demographic trends that indicate increased usage of vitamins and other food supplements, there is still a large untapped domestic market as only an estimated 15% of local citizens currently consume vitamins, minerals and herbal supplements on a regular basis.
Vitamins are the most preferred type of health product for enhancing human energy and health for almost all age groups. Sports vitamins, weight loss/gain, and special formula products are the most popular types consumed among Egyptians, whether in powder, capsule, or tablet form.
Domestic food supplement products meet local market demands. However, almost all the raw materials are imported. Hence, the Egyptian supplements market offers significant opportunities for U.S. exporters of raw materials used in nutritional supplements. According to industry sources, food supplement sales reached around LE 700 million ($125 million) in 2007. The sector is anticipated to keep increasing within the next few years. (Statistical data is not available).
New products are continually being introduced into the market by small companies. Most high-quality products which prove effective, receive customer acceptance and enjoy rapid market growth. Rising health awareness in Egypt has prompted consumers to purchase preventative dietary/food supplements to improve their health. Vitamins and food supplement sales therefore rose as upper and middle-income consumers are increasingly purchasing them, boosting value sales. In addition, poor nutrition and dietary habits in Egypt have caused a widespread phenomenon of vitamin, protein and mineral deficiency amongst a large percentage of people, particularly the low-income sector, for whom vitamins and supplements are prescribed by their local physicians to support their health. This segment of the population purchases the less expensive products, but their consumption is a boost to volume sales, as they constitute a significant portion of the population.
According to a U.S. multinational company producing locally, infant milk formula is not subject to MOH price controls, however it is subsidized by it. Purchased at about $3 per pack from the pharmaceutical companies, the MOH distributes infant formula in certain quantities to local pharmacies to be sold at LE 3 ($0.5) to the public, which costs the government millions of dollars. In 2007, infant formula registered $40 million in sales (at actual selling price).
There is a lack of awareness among Egyptians concerning child-specific remedies and health products, and also a factor of low purchasing power as many families are unable to afford both adult and child versions of medications. However, as income, literacy and health awareness are on the rise in Egypt, child-specific healthcare products are expected to grow, especially due to the fact that the Egyptian population increases at a rate of over 2% per annum, meaning that a large part of the country’s population is below the age of 15.