Interest in traditional Chinese medicine has grown as more people turn to natural remedies
SINGAPORE’S appetite for traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) products appears to have grown during the global recession, even as other countries’ demand was dampened during the same period.
The Singapore Traditional Chinese Medicine Organisations Committee (STOC) yesterday cited growing imports and declining exports of TCM products as indicating greater interest here.
The total value of imports of Chinese medicine, Chinese health supplements, and related products such as ginseng and chicken essence went up from $1.1 billion in 2007 to $1.6 billion last year, a 45 per cent increase. Imports come mostly from China, while the rest are from Taiwan and Malaysia.
In fact, figures obtained by the STOC from its counterparts in China indicate that products imported from China have risen by 74 per cent since 2007. These imports are now valued at US$50.1 million (S$68 million).
Meanwhile, the total value of exports, comprising Singapore-made TCM products and re-exports, went down from $6.9 billion in 2007 to $5.2 billion last
More consumers in Singapore are taking to products like chicken essence, Chinese herbal products and ginseng, said the STOC.
Mr Lee Tiong Sa, chairman of the Singapore TCM College, said demand has grown steadily since the start of the decade, when more stringent industry regulations in China and Singapore kicked in and boosted consumer confidence.
TCM clinics have also popped up alongside Western medicine clinics and hospitals. Interest has gone up, especially in recent years, as more people have turned to natural remedies and natural products.
“More people are also now aware of it, and have found that some illnesses cannot be adequately treated by Western medicine. I think people see it as a complement to Western medicine,” said Mr Lee.
Taking advantage of this growing interest, organisers of the upcoming second Traditional Medicine Expo are expanding exhibition space.
Organised by the STOC and the Singapore TCM College, the expo will showcase to the public traditional Asian medicinal products.
Besides TCM, other medicinal traditions such as Jamu from Indonesia and Ayurveda from India will be showcased.
Floor space has grown by a third, from 3,000 sq m to 4,000 sq m, since last year. Nearly 100 exhibitors from China and neighbouring countries have already been secured, a 10 per cent increase on the number last year.
This year’s exhibition, from Oct 15 to 17 at Suntec City, will also feature cooking demonstrations as well as talks on natural products and supplements.