Is there an Over-the-Counter Solution for Air Pollution?

Air pollution is a major problem across the Asia Pacific region, responsible for over a million premature deaths each year. Consumers are understandably highly concerned and looking for solutions, with Vitamin C and Vitamin E pills increasingly being embraced for the purpose.

Where Breathing Is Hazardous To Your Health

The economies of Asia may have boomed in recent years, but this has not come without a price tag. Much of the cost is being paid by the Asian environment, with pollution becoming a key issue across Asia.  Studies now indicate that the ubiquitous smog of Beijing and elsewhere across northern China is cutting over half a decade from the average life expectancy in the region, with other studies claiming air pollution was linked to 1.2 million deaths in China in 2010 alone. Other studies meanwhile suggest that the “Asian Brown Cloud” is responsible for the deaths of half a million Indians each year. Air quality amongst much of China and India is now considered either “hazardous” or “very unhealthy.”  Consumers across the Asia Pacific region are understandably highly concerned about pollution – according to a poll by the Pew Research Centre, 47% of Chinese consider air pollution as a “very big problem” in 2013 up from 36% in 2012 – and are searching for solutions.

Solutions for Pollution

To cope with these rising pollution levels, Asian consumers have embraced many solutions, most notably the face masks which are ubiquitous across many Asian cities. Vitamins and dietary supplements are also increasingly playing an important role.  This is particularly the case in relation to Vitamin E and Vitamin C, both of which are perceived to protect the body against pollution.  Specifically, Vitamin E protects consumer’s skin, whilst Vitamin C acts as a defence for consumer’s lungs.

Consumers around the world have a strong preference for taking multivitamins for “general well being” over of single vitamins for specific ailments.  Consumers are largely unaware of the benefits of specific vitamins.  There is growing awareness however that taking Vitamin C and Vitamin E can reduce the dangerous impacts of air pollution, and this is particularly the case in relation to the Asia Pacific region.

Growth of both Vitamin E and Vitamin C are both strong in China, with 8% growth of Vitamin E and 10% growth of Vitamin C in 2012. Malaysia and Singapore, both experience spikes in Vitamin C consumption each year, whenever the haze from bushfires in Indonesia floats across the Malacca Straits.  It is Indonesia itself however, where the growth opportunities of Vitamin C and Vitamin E have been most potent, with Vietnam and Thailand both close behind.

Why Indonesia Is the Fastest Growing Market for Vitamin C and Vitamin E

In 2012, Indonesia was the fastest growing market for both Vitamin C and Vitamin E; despite also having to compete with a range of popular beverages that are fortified with 1000mg of Vitamin C, such as You C1000 by Takeda Pharmaceutical’s which is by far the most popular Juice Drink in Indonesia.

Whilst defending consumer’s health from the ravages of pollution is one of the causes of this rapid growth in Indonesia, innovative promotional campaigns have also played a part. Fatigon C Plus (Kalbe Farma) for example have built upon the awareness of Vitamin C as a solution to lung damage from pollution by also promoting their brand as a means of helping Indonesians advance their careers.  They have launched the “C Plus Movement” campaign, which claims that its goal is to improve the competitiveness ranking of Indonesian workers.  The campaign centres on a 3 word slogan of “Condition, Courage, Contribute,” with “Condition” referring to maintaining a healthy body condition, “Courage” being about “finding true passion for success” and “Contribute” encouraging consumers to make a contribution to your community.   If Indonesian consumers had not previously been aware that Vitamin C can act as a solution to pollution, such a campaign would not have been possible.

This growth shows no signs of stopping either, with Euromonitor tipping Indonesia to be the fastest growing market for both Vitamin C and Vitamin E between 2012 and 2017.

Elsewhere in Asia Pacific…

Outside of Indonesia, and well developed markets such as Japan and South Korea, consumption of Vitamin C and Vitamin E are still low.  The market for vitamins generally evolves in stages, with consumers first taking multivitamins for general health before becoming more specific.  These markets are likely to evolve considerably over the next five years with pollution a major contributor.

Vitamins in Vietnam are set to boom, particularly around Hanoi, where their own pollution is added to by haze floating over from China.  This is also the case in India, where consumption of vitamins and dietary supplements is currently quite low, but where air pollution – particularly that associated with the “Asian brown cloud” – remains a particularly pertinent issue. Pollution is a problem which will not go away and consumers will continue to search for solutions for the resulting impact on their health.  Vitamins C and E are both set to be a major component of such a solution.