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Herbal Medicines : Global Trade Scenario

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that 80% of the population of developing countries relies on traditional medicines, mostly plant drugs, for their primary health care needs. The demand for medicinal plants is increasing in both developing and developed countries due to growing recognition of natural products, being non narcotic having no side effects, easily available at affordable costs. The reasons for growing demand for herbal products are enlisted in the table 1-


       Reasons for increase in demand of Herbal products
1   Rising health care costs
2 Emergence of unknown diseases
3 Increased health-consciousness
4 More focus on prevention rather than cure
5 Increase in aging population
6 Shift towards consumption of natural products (away from synthetics)
7 Changing lifestyles / trend in self-grooming
8 Eco-labeling / packaging
9 Consumer demand for 100% natural products

Global Market for Herbal and Traditional Medicines:

The value of medicinal plants as a source of foreign exchange for developing countries depends on the use of plants as raw materials in the pharmaceutical, cosmetics and herbal extracts industry. It provides numerous opportunities for developing nations to advance rural wellbeing.The global trade in medicinal plants is of the order of US$ 800 million per year. Export statistics available between 1992 and 1995 indicate that India exported about 32,600 tonnes of crude drugs valued at $US 46 million. China with exports of over 120,000 tons per annum (US$ 264.5 million) and India with over 32,000 tons per annum dominate the international market. The annual export of medicinal plants from India is valued at Rs. 1200 million.All the major herbal-based pharmaceutical companies are showing a constant growth of about 15 per cent. The turnover of herbal medicines in India as over-the-counter (OTC) products, ethical and classical formulations and home remedies of Ayurveda, Un an i, and Siddh a systems of medicine is about US$1 billion with a meager export of about US$ 80 million. The growth of herbal industry is showing an upward trend even in most developed economies (Table 2)

Table-2 Showing growth of Herbal Industry in Developed Countries

Country   1999 Retail Sales (US$)   % Annual Growth Rate
Germany   3.5 B   15-20
France 1.8 B 15-20
Japan 2.4 B 10
U.S. 1.7 B 18
Canada/N. America 1.6 B 10

Grossly, the usage of traditional herbs goes into therapeutic areas like herbal medicines, food supplements and nutraceuticals etc and also as herbal personal care and cosmetic products-

  • Herbs being traded as Herbal Medicine

    Market size: US$80B with annual growth rate of 10-20% Share of herbal medicine to total pharmaceuticals market (est. at US$400B) is 3.5% Market for herbs divided into 4 segments:

    1. Culinary herbs
    2. Food supplement applications

    3. Essential oils and

    4. Pharmaceuticals

  • Herbs being traded as Herbal Personal Care /Cosmaceuticals

    Market size estimated at US$ 22B (1999)

Country (ies)   Retail Sales (‘99)   % Growth
U.S.   US$1.62 B   10
EU (G, F, I, UK) ECU 2.5 B 10
Japan US$.45 B 12

For More Details :--

Read AMAM Ayurveda Heritage Vol-1, Issue 4, October-December 2005

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