by Julia Pierrepont III, Huang Heng
LAS VEGAS, United States, Oct. 19 (Xinhua) -- The booming health ingredients industry needs cooperation between the United States as the largest market and China as a key supplier on the supply chain, industry insiders have said.
The industry also needs ideas originated from both countries for development, said many of the 17,000 attendees at the SupplySide West Trade Show in Las Vegas this weekend -- the largest annual gathering of health and nutritional ingredient professionals in the United States.
Mark Alyn, a radio commentator for Late Night Health show on radio station KABC, is an advocate for alternative health, food supplements and global medicine.
"Some Chinese herbal remedies have been used effectively for thousands of years," he said. "There is a lot of know-how there that China can share with the world."
More than 350 Chinese companies joined this year's fair, and China's pharmaceutical ingredient industry is witnessing expansion, said Chris Cai, deputy secretary general of the China Chamber of Commerce for Import & Export of Medicines & Health Products.
"This is a good area of cooperation between China and the U.S.," Cai said. "Health issues are a concern for all people and we already have a very strong foundation and basis for cooperation."
Cai pointed out that, historically, many patent medicines were developed first in China as part of thousands of years' tradition of Chinese medicine. In some recent 100 years, U.S. and European companies with automated capsule-filling capabilities leapfrogged over China to take the lead in plant extracts drug manufacturing.
Even though, China is still the biggest ingredients supplier of the world for plant extracts drug, Cai said, adding that now it has come full circle, with many U.S. medicines and supplements being made or partially made in China at ultra-modern laboratories.
Some U.S. companies are heading to China to set up camp as well. Carrie Hernandez, a marketing manager of the U.S. National Sanitation Foundation, said they recently opened a lab in Shanghai to ensure comprehensive cross-border quality control on imports.
"It was time," she told Xinhua.
The trend has been predicted by other industry analysts as well. Pan-Asia professional services firm Dezan Shira & Associates reported of China in a briefing last year that "Every health sector -- from pharmaceuticals to medical devices -- will have more opportunities."
Danica Cullins, brand director and vice president of sales for events company Informa's SupplySide portfolio, said that the Chinese suppliers "represent the largest number of exhibitors at the show outside of the U.S. group."
"They (the Chinese suppliers) bring a great deal of business and value to the show," Cullins added.