Unique and useful products – the key to the Polish market of food supplements

Poland is an interesting market for the entry and distribution of food supplements. It is among the largest in Europe, growing by 8% per year and developing very dynamically. In 2015 alone, Poles spent 3.5 billion zlotys on food supplements, buying nearly 190 million packages.

The country ranks second in the pharmaceutical market in the region of Central and Eastern Europe (in value) after Russia. This market offers a large and a more vibrant consumer health market. Its stability and bright prospects have attracted the attention of most global pharmaceutical companies, 16 of which have manufacturing facilities located in the country.

There is a significant increase in interest in probiotics and probiotic products on the market, such as the dairy probiotic products registered significant growth rate with expectation to increase to 14% by 2023. Sales of these drugs are increasing significantly due to the many studies confirming their beneficial effects in the treatment of many diseases, most of they are available virtually without a prescription at any pharmacy or on the Internet.

In fact, Poland is the fourth largest market for probiotics in Europe, valued at 72 million euros. The country registers some of the highest levels of gastrointestinal disorders associated with an increased risk of ulcers and malignancies in the EU, and over 50% of the population uses probiotics. This situation is attractive for manufacturers of probiotic products, as almost every pharmaceutical company on the market offers such products.

There are currently around 100 probiotics of various categories on the Polish market, as well as dietary foods for special medical purposes (food supplements based on harmonized EU regulations), and there are almost 30,000 products registered as food supplements without a prescription. Probiotics are available in various forms such as medicines, medical devices and nutritional supplements. Most often in the form of capsules, tablets, sachets or ampoules. This is a huge variety of products and their descriptions and possible applications.

According to the applicable legislation, the food supplement is not a medicinal product, but a food that is defined in the Food Safety and Nutrition Act as a food product, the purpose of which must be to supplement a normal diet. Due to the ease of the registration process and lower costs, most probiotics are registered as dietary supplements and the market is flooded with counterfeit products. Virtually not all probiotics available on the Polish market are high quality products, and some of them are downright harmful to health.

The need to raise awareness of probiotics means that the public space is rich in materials explaining the role of good bacteria, gastrointestinal health and its impact on overall health, which in any case serve the marketing of products. Publicly discussed topics, such as the incomplete availability of studies on the effectiveness of probiotic products or strains, understandably lead to difficulties for the consumer in choosing the most appropriate product for him. That is why the dynamic development of products on the market is undoubtedly influenced by their advertising.

Polish pharmacies are a major source of probiotics with “proven therapeutic value”, although there are other channels for the sale of over-the-counter preparations and nutritional supplements such as grocery stores, supermarkets and hypermarkets, discount stores, petrol stations, pavilions, online or specialized in nutritional supplements. non-pharmaceutical sales are expected to grow faster than pharmaceutical sales due to less severe registration.

In general, Poland is a suitable market for expansion and opens up the possibility of entering the market of food supplements that focus on specific rather than general health benefits.

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