Who profits really from a ban?


Last year I have observed that more and more Japanese chemical or biotech related companies started to move into the local health ingredients market. One example is the picture on the side: Glucosamine from Suntory. I believe the market for health ingredients was successfully started off with Otsuka Pharmaceuticals. Vitamins and supplements are only recently becoming widely available in Japan. One of the most successful promoted brands was Nature Made, which offered a high priced product with rather low actual vitamin content, which is produced and marketed in Japan by Otsuka Pharmaceuticals. While now more and more local companies are offering health food ingredients I was surprised to see the Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) intention to blacklist 125 nutrients including forms of glucosamine, aloe vera and krill, because it says they are not being used in products, according to the US Department of Agriculture Foreign Agriculture Service. Others that appear on the list include isomaltodextranase, chitin, quercetin, mulberry bark extract, ginger extract and calcinated calcium and Eucalyptus leaf extract. If cuts are made Japan’s approved list will shrink from 418 to 293 approved substances. According to the USDA the MHLW was requesting additional information from the companies concerned that may wish to continue using the ingredients. “The stated reason for the deletions is that the ministry believes these additives are not currently being used in foods sold in Japan,” USDA said.
Honestly I am wondering what the actual reason for this step is. The products stated are not that unusual, plus at the same time offered by local companies. Potentially the difference of the end product lies solely in the place of manufacture. At the end, who is affected? All those local end users who buy only local products, paying more than double of the price for the same product containing a smaller amount of actual health ingredients. I am sure the local chemical or biotech industry does not mind this blacklist, which will stop certain foreign imports.

Brought to you by Sibylle Ito (シビル伊藤)

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