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Blue Ocean Market: Eye Health Food in China
Publication date:2024-05-27

 

In the modern, technology-driven era, prolonged digital device usage has become a prevalent concern among the Chinese populace. Eye-related health issues have become increasingly widespread from the young to the old. Consequently, this has given rise to a thriving market for a diverse range of eye care solutions, from steam eye masks and eye drops to food for eye health. Eye health foods are emerging and gaining popularity among consumers in China. 

 

According to market data, the global eye health supplement market reached $1.48 billion in 2019 and is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.1% from 2020 to 2027. In a 2023 research report, China Merchants Securities highlighted the rapid growth and strong potential of the eye health supplement sector in China. Over the past four years, products in this category have grown at a rate exceeding 20%. The demand for eye health food will continue rising, shifting from "passive response" to "proactive prevention."

 

Popular Ingredients on the Rise in Eye Health Food Market

 

The popular eye-care ingredients today include Lutein, Zeaxanthin, Vitamin A, Bilberry Extract, CoQ10 and tec. Below are details about some ingredients and related products.

 

  • Lutein (Esters):

 

Lutein, a type of carotenoid commonly found in various fruits and vegetables, is primarily extracted from marigold flowers. Currently, lutein is approved as a food additive colorant in the National Standard for Food Safety—Uses of Food Additives (GB 2760-2024).

 

Lutein Esters, a type of carotenoid fatty acid ester sourced from marigold flowers, were included in China's New food raw materials (novel food ingredients) by the Ministry of Health in 2008. Lutein Esters exhibit better stability and higher bioavailability than Lutein, securing a prominent place in eye health food products.

  

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*Source: TMALL

 

  • Fish Oil:

 

In 2010, the Ministry of Health approved fish oil and its extracts as new raw food materials (novel food ingredients). In 2020, the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR), National Health Commission, and National Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine included fish oil in the Health Food Raw Materials Directory, allowing relevant products to undergo the filing process.

 

Fish oil is rich in Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), Omega-3 fatty acids, and Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA).

  

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*Source: TMALL

 

  • Traditional dual use food and medicinal substance: 

 

In recent years, dual-use foods and medicinal substances have been widely used in ordinary and health foods. Traditional Chinese plants such as goji berries, chrysanthemums, and cassia seeds are extensively utilized in eye care products. 

 

According to traditional Chinese medicine, the following substances are good for eye health:

 

Goji berries: Sweet and mild, they nourish the liver and kidneys, promote eye health, and are rich in lutein, which supplements corneal nutrients.

 

Chrysanthemum: Known for its ability to dispel wind-heat, it effectively treats dryness and eye irritation caused by liver heat or excessive eye strain.

 

Cassia seed: It helps reduce eye redness and excessive tearing and prevents vision deterioration.

 

 

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*Source: TMALL

 

Export Tips

 

1. For general trade

 

According to the Food Safety Law of the People's Republic of China and the Administrative Measure on Health Food Registration and Filing, China strictly supervises and manages special foods such as health food. Only after obtaining the health food registration certificate or filing certificate can health food be marketed and sold in China.

 

General food products are currently prohibited from making functional claims, only products with the "blue hat" logo are allowed to make such claims. If companies wish to make relevant eye-functional claims, registration as a health food is necessary. It usually takes a typical application period of 1.5 to 3 years.

 

  • Function Claim: Alleviating Visual Fatigue

 

According to the Catalogue of Health Functions Permitted to be Claimed by Health Food Non-Nutrient Supplements (2023 Edition), there are a total of 24 permitted function claims for health food products. Among these, one of the permitted function claims for eye care health food is that it helps alleviate visual fatigue.

 

Furthermore, the 2022 Edition (Draft) of the Interpretations on Health Functions provides the following relevant explanation for this health function:

 

- Eye fatigue is caused by prolonged adjustment of the eye's refractive power, manifesting as blurred vision, soreness, dryness, tearing, and other eye discomfort."

- Eye fatigue is related to viewing distance, duration, lighting, inappropriate eyeglass prescriptions, and insufficient outdoor activities."

- Scientific research indicates that supplementing with appropriate substances can help relieve eye fatigue.

 

According to data from China SAMR, there are currently 207 domestically produced health foods with approved registration numbers claiming to alleviate visual fatigue, with no imported products among them.

 

 

2. For Cross-Border E-commerce (CBEC)

 

Cross-border e-commerce is currently the preferred method for selling overseas health food products in China, as it does not require enterprises to register products.

 

According to the Circular on Improving the Supervision of Retail Imports in Cross-border Electronic Commerce, health food purchased via cross-border e-commerce is regulated as personal use items by customs and cannot be resold. They do not require a first-time import permit, registration, or filing. Additionally, such health food products imported via cross-border e-commerce cannot be advertised as health food.

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