Demands of functional food in Vietnam

There is a growing demand for vitamin supplements and other functional foods in the Vietnamese market. Norwegian players have just started entering the market.

Photo: Innovation Norway

Photo: Innovation Norway

Møller liver fish oil and different Norwegian vitamin supplements are already distributed in pharmacies, specialty shops and online stores in Vietnam. As Vietnamese buyers highly value Norwegian supplements for quality and effective functionality, there are potentials for Norwegian supplemental companies to increase their sales of current products on the market as well as to introduce new products for the diverted demands of Vietnamese consumers.

Market overview

The average population in Vietnam in 2016 was 92.7 million people. The GDP per capita was US $2,215, thanks to the GDP growth of 6.2% compared to 2015[1]. Vietnam is forecasted to have steady economic growth around 5 – 6% for the next decade.

The functional food market in Vietnam is booming. According to Assoc. Prof. Tran Dang, President of the Vietnam Functional Food Association (VFFA), this sector has been expanding by 9 -10% per annum. Meanwhile, Euromoniter, a market survey firm, forecasted that the functional food market in Vietnam will grow steadily by 20% annually in the coming years. The total market value in 2012 was equivalent to US $526 million with 43% of the Vietnamese population consumed functional food regularly. In 2013, there were more than 3,500 businesses in the health food sector with more than 6,800 functional food products.

number of supplemented food businesses in Vietnam

Number of supplemented food businesses in Vietnam. (Source: Vietnam Association of Functional Foods 2014)

In addition, the socio-demographics of Vietnam is undergoing changes with urbanization, larger ageing and growing middle–income population which creates increased demands for functional food.

Legislation on health food

The Department of Safety and Food Hygiene – Vietnam Ministry of Health is the competent authority for functional food products. The functional foods are defined as:

  • Foods used to support the function of human’s organs, with nutritive effect for the body’s ease, increasing resistance and reducing the risk of illness.
  • Functional foods divided into sub categories[2]:
    • Supplementation Micronutrient Food
    • Supplemental Food
    • Health Protection Food
    • Medical Nutrition Food

Prior to be available on the market, functional food products must be registered. The registration application is to be submitted to the Department of Safety and Food Hygiene. The general timeframe will be as follows:

  • Registration process: 3 – 4 weeks upon application
  • Publication certificate validity: 3 years

Foreign players in the Vietnamese functional food sector

Imported products accounted for 80% of the market, mainly in non-herbal/traditional products offering the local demands on health concerns of anti-aging; strengthen resistance, reduce disease risk and harm; develop abundant health; support human beauty; and support health treatment.

Direct selling foreign supplement companies have been growing steady in Vietnam:

  • Amway Vietnam: the Company established in Vietnam in 2008 with initial investment of US $25 million. In 2013, Amway Vietnam earned $90 million in revenue, up by 14% compared to 2012. The company has expanded its business growth by constructing the second factory in Vietnam.
  • Herbalife Vietnam: the company entered Vietnam in 2009. Herbalife Vietnam had a growth rate above 50% during 2010 – 2013. The sales to the Vietnamese market accounted for a significant proportion of US $4.8 billion total revenues for 2013.
  • Unicity Vietnam: based on the growth of business in Vietnam, Unicity Vietnam mentioned that the company is considering establishing a factory in Vietnam to make products for local market and export to regional countries.
  • Nuskin Vietnam: the Company had a plan to attain 33% growth in 2014 due to its business performance of 30% high growth for 2013.


Opportunities for Norwegian supplement product businesses

As mentioned, there are a few Norwegian supplemental products that are distributed in Vietnam, like Moller’s Tran, Norwegian Fish Oil. However, the sales of available Norwegian products increase and we believe that there are lots of opportunites for Norwegian companies to penetrate in the Vietnamese market by:

  • Offering a wide range of Norwegian supplement products;
  • Stimulating the sales of current products in the market and/or
  • Transferring know-how, technology to local functional food producers.

Get help to grab opportunities in Vietnam?

If you want to get more information or seek advice and assistance to enter the Vietnamese market, please contact:

Do Anh Tuan Market & Admin Officer Innovation Norway, Hanoi Innovation Norway Vietnam

Innovation Norway SSEA on Facebook

[1] “Vietnam Socio-economic situation in 2016” – General Statistics Office of Vietnam.

[2] Circular No. 08/2004/TT-BYT and “Vietnam Health Supplementary market”

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