GenMont Biotech Inc (景岳生物科技), Taiwan’s leading brand of probiotics, yesterday said it was making an aggressive foray into China as the country’s awareness of healthcare products grows.
The company began talks with Chinese retailers in February about carrying its products and business momentum is expected to pick up substantially next year, the company’s vice executive officer Eddy Hsieh (謝春成) said.
“The market is still being educated on the benefits of probiotics, as Chinese consumers are not familiar with the term,” he said on the sidelines of this year’s Bio Taiwan expo press briefing yesterday.
The company said Chinese consumers do drink sour milk, but they are not very familiar with probiotics — live micro-organisms said to be healthy for the host organism widely used in yogurt and the Yakult-brand drink, which is popular with Taiwanese consumers who want to get probiotics into their daily diet.
As China becomes more health conscious, GenMont aims to tap into the emerging market to sell its slew of probiotic products.
“There are 70 million babies born in China every year, compared with only 190,000 in Taiwan,” Hsieh said, adding that the market across the Taiwan Strait could be a cash cow if the company manages to seize a share of the market.
GenMont is one of 17 Taiwanese firms set to showcase their latest biotech offerings and educate the market on biotech developments during this year’s Bio Taiwan expo, which is scheduled to take place at the Taipei World Trade Center Exhibition Hall I from July 22 to July 25.
PhytoHealth Corp (懷特生技新藥), Taiwan’s first publicly listed biotech firm, is also taking part in the fair to create exposure for its flagship botanical drug — PhytoHealth PG2.
PG2 is the first botanical drug to be approved by Taiwan’s Department of Health.
The new drug has been clinically proven to be safe and efficacious in relieving cancer-related fatigue among advanced cancer patients under standard palliative care.
The company is planning to inject about NT$300 million (US$10 million) into the development of a new facility in Yangmei (楊梅), Taoyuan County, to produce PG2, the mass production of which is expected to begin in the second quarter of next year, assistant researcher Lai Yen-han (賴彥翰) said.
“Most of the drugs on the market now are chemical based, while few botanical ones are proven to be effective,” Lai said.
After securing a foothold in the Taiwanese market for PG2, the company said it plans to get the drug certified by US Food and Drug Administration for overseas export purposes.
According to statistics from the Ministry of Economic Affairs, revenues from the local biotech industry — including those from pharmaceuticals and medical devices — reached US$6.2 billion in 2008, up from US$5.9 billion in 2007.
There were a total of 1,184 biotech companies in Taiwan in 2008, which employed 42,773 people, a rise from 1,116 firms and 40,794 employees in the previous year.
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