The complementary medicines industry – a “$1 billion dollar export market”

Three-quarters of Australians are currently using complementary medicines regularly to manage a range of conditions.

However, the $5.4 billion market continues to face supply chain challenges that impact us all.

Membership Manager Natasha Flynn and Industry Development Manager Cameron Thorpe from Complimentary Medicines Australia (CMA) will unveil important factors for the industry at this year’s 2023 Naturally Good expo.

The Naturally Good expo will feature more than 30 speakers presenting on a wide range of business topics at the two-day event on June 5-6 at Sydney’s ICC.

Up for discussion will be the emerging ‘new normal’ after COVID-19, the impacts of evolving supply chain challenges, shifts in consumer purchasing decisions and sales channels, trending categories, export opportunities, how we’re tackling illegal imports and key campaigns critical to industry growth.

They’ll also share sales data across the industry, the chronic diseases driving growth, the innovations, trends and the issues that have concerned and captivated us during the last year.

Ms Flynn previews her presentation, Deep Dive – Understanding Australia’s Complementary Medicines Landscape.

Pictured: Natasha Flynn.

The resilience of the complementary medicines industry

The complementary medicines industry has shown remarkable resilience and sustained economic growth through the COVID-19 pandemic and associated supply chain disruptions. This has highlighted the importance of fostering local medicine manufacturing capabilities and strengthening innovation and R&D in the complementary medicines sector.

Before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the complementary medicines export market achieved phenomenal growth—going from generating $175 million to over $1 billion in export revenue in just five years.

Despite a dip in exports during the COVID period, the latest export statistics indicate that the Australian CM industry has restored its status as a “1-billion dollar export market”, rising 18.8 per cent from 2021 with exports back to pre-pandemic levels. China is the biggest export market at 68 per cent. Revenue has increased by 4 per cent to $6 billion dollars.

Tackling illegal imports

CMA has been working with the TGA to deliver the 4 Eyes Project: Industry Intelligence on Illegal Imports, which has resulted in the removal of 15,000 illegal products from sale from Australian eCommerce platforms. In partnership with the TGA, this has resulted in the seizure and destruction of 850,514 products and the TGA issuing 2,173 warning letters.

Factors critical to industry growth

  • Protecting the Australian-made-and-manufactured high-quality reputation
  • Protecting industry reputation
  • Growing complementary medicine exports
  • Political advocacy to support Australian manufacturing

How pharmacies can remain competitive in this space

A pharmacy is uniquely positioned to provide trusted, expert product advice. Customers purchasing complementary medicines and therapeutic foods often seek advice for their health and well-being.

For customers seeking immunity, healthy aging, beauty, and pet products, evidence-based complementary medicines and probiotic strains can be helpful.

Online customers are important so ongoing efforts are encouraged as customers will choose e-commerce sites based on trust, user experience, order fulfilment timeframe, shipping cost, product offerings, price, and other factors such as loyalty programs.

Consider your website, your unique invitation to connect your customers with expert advice, gain valuable insights and acknowledge loyalty.

Predictions for the next 12 months

While it’s always difficult to predict the future – who could have foreseen a global pandemic – we do see trends now that will make an impact in the future.

We are seeing a growth in youth obesity and know many people, especially the young, have been affected by long lockdowns and restricted socialisation. With those aged 18-30 seeking help for anxiety and sleep.

The continued rise of telehealth consultations will be a boon for the industry. According to the ABS, 30.8 per cent of people had at least one telehealth consultation in 2021-22, compared to 28.8 per cent in 2020-21. People living in major cities were more likely to have a telehealth consultation (32.2 per cent) than those in remote, very remote and outer regional areas (22.5 per cent).

Ms Flynn and Mr Thorpe will be expanding on their presentation at the 2023 Naturally Good Expo on 11.15am, Tuesday 6 June at Sydney’s ICC.

Head to Naturally Good for more information to register.

Text by: Naturally Good.

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