After the Chinese government terminated zero-COVID policy and lifted most COVID restrictions in early December 2022, COVID quickly swept across the whole country. People rushed to hoard drugs to relieve symptoms, canned peaches as a nostalgic snack for psychological comfort, and electrolyte drinks to avoid electrolyte disturbance during body’s antiviral defense. Now the spotlight of buying spree has been changed: Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) supplements have become the new hotspot in China.
On January 12, 2023, the keyword "coenzyme Q10" gained more than 100 million views and 10,000+ discussions on Chinese social media Weibo. On China’s leading online shopping platform Taobao, the search volume of this keyword has soared by more than 2,500%. In offline shopping channels, the sales of CoQ10 supplements also rose sharply. Some brands even ran out of stock for a time.
In fact, the heat of CoQ10 supplements was triggered by people’s massive demand for preventing myocarditis and protecting heart health, as heart disease happened in part of COVID infected population in China lately, even though many medical experts have publicly opined that such supplements cannot prevent myocarditis or other cardiac diseases.
Things about Coenzyme Q10
CoQ10 is an antioxidant commonly exists in animals and plants. It plays a vital role in human energy metabolism and antioxidant protection activities, widely distributing in human heart, liver, kidney and other organs that consume a lot of energy. Scientific research also found that CoQ10 can be synthesized by human body, and is associated with protecting cardiovascular health, delaying aging and activating the immune system.
Despite that the human body can spontaneously synthesize CoQ10, the synthetic ability peaks around the age of 30. However, CoQ10 can be supplemented from fish, cattle, chicken and other meat, animal viscera, etc. Besides, nuts, vegetables, fruits and cereals also contain CoQ10.
In addition, in the context of the COVID epidemic, according to Expert Consensus on Strengthening Basic Nutrition to Prevent Mild to Severe Novel Coronavirus Infection in Middle-aged and Elderly People by Chinese Non-government Medical Institutions Association, it is recommended to take 100-300 mg CoQ10 per day for such populations. Those with cardiovascular diseases can take the highest dose within the recommended range.
Regulatory supervision in China
In China, CoQ10 products include related drugs and health food (health supplements). However, the majority of CoQ10 products available in the market are health food. Both Chinese domestic and imported health food need to be registered or filed with China's State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) before being put on the market. For imported health food, they can enter China via an extra way—cross border e-commerce (CBEC).
For a long time in the past, since CoQ10 was not listed in the Health Food Raw Material Directory, both Chinese domestic and imported CoQ10 supplements could only access the market via product registration with SAMR. Compared with product filing, registration is subject to a higher access barrier, especially for imported products. So far, a total of 194 CoQ10 supplements got registered with SAMR, including only three imported products.
The situation has been changed in recent years. In late 2020, SAMR announced the addition of CoQ10 to the Health Food Raw Material Directory, which was enforced on March 1, 2021. Later, SAMR released the dosage and technical requirements for CoQ10 supplements. With the release of these regulations, CoQ10 supplements can be put on the market via product filing instead of registration. Key compliance points are as follows:
Children, pregnant woman, lactating woman, those with allergies
People taking pharmaceutical drugs should consult doctor before consuming the product
Tablet (oral tablet, lozenge, chewing tablet), granule, hard capsule, soft capsule
However, currently, only Chinese domestic CoQ10 supplements can be filed with SAMR. Since March 1, 2022, a total of 570 domestic CoQ10 supplements have been filed and put on the market, greatly surpassing the number of registered CoQ10 supplements. Among the 570 products, more than 65% are soft capsules, around 18% are tablets, 13% are hard capsules, and 3% are granules.
Imported CoQ10 supplements are still required to finish product registration to enter the Chinese market. Therefore, the most popular market access channel for such products is CBEC. Notably, products imported via CBEC don’t need to comply with Chinese regulations; instead, they shall follow the rule of the CBEC platforms where they enter. For any assistance in bringing your CoQ10 products into China, please feel free to contact us.
Players in the Chinese Market
In recent years, affected by the downstream demand of drugs, health food, cosmetics and so on, the market scale of CoQ10 in China have grown rapidly. According to the data from Zhiyan Intelligence Research Group, in 2021, the market size of China's CoQ10 industry reached 426 million yuan, including 270 million yuan in the sector of health food, 84 million yuan in pharmaceuticals, and 72 million yuan in cosmetics and other sectors. Since 2014, China's CoQ10 industry has experienced a compound growth rate of 21.82%.
For CoQ10 supplements, in addition to CoQ10, some other ingredients are frequently added, such as black pepper and lecithin, to improve human absorption and other body functions. Some products are added with reduced CoQ10, which merchants usually advertise as having higher absorbability, but current research cannot fully support this conclusion.
By-health CoQ10 supplements contain raw materials imported from Japan. Some products are added with vitamin E. The unit price range is from 240 to 350 yuan/bottle.
Puritan's Pride provides oxidized and reduced CoQ10 products. The unit price range is from 200 to 400 yuan/bottle.
Doctor's Best CoQ10 products have multiple series, with unit content ranging from 100mg/capsule to 600mg/capsule, and provide both oxidized and reduced coenzyme Q10. Some products are added with black pepper to improve the absorption rate of CoQ10. The unit price range is from 100 to 400 yuan/bottle.
GNC provides reduced and oxidized CoQ10 products, with unit content ranging from 100mg/capsule to 400mg/capsule. The unit price range is from 200 to 400 yuan/bottle.
Swisse provides two specifications of CoQ10 supplements. The unit prices are around 190 yuan/bottle and 410 yuan/bottle respectively.
Meiji provides oxidized and reduced CoQ10 products, with two different specifications. The unit price range is from 230 to 290 yuan/bottle.
Source: Tmall and JD.com, Foodtalks