Monday, April 22

Rising awareness, demand for organic products in Kuching

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KUCHING: The awareness and demand for organic products are on the rise in Kuching as locals embrace more health-conscious options for a better life.

This observation was shared by members of the local pharmacy industry present at a launching event for Mt Retour, an Australian organic skin care and essential oils brand, earlier last week.

Capitalising on this market trend is Vibrante Essentials Sdn Bhd (VESB) who are the authorised Malaysian distributors of Mt Retour. Miracolo Enterprise is the newly authorised distributor for Sarawak and is also a local organic health and beauty product retailer.

VESB co-founders Barry Tan, Ivan Chye and Ryan Tai explained that the various Australian accreditation of Mt Retour products allow them to be differentiated from other products that are labelled organic or natural as it offers its consumers the peace mind that the product they are using are grown, harvested, manufactured and packaged in a organic and sustainable manner while adhering to Islamic guidelines.

“Our goal is to provide consumers comprehensive yet affordable skin care and for local pharmacies to ride on this trend and introduce more organic products into the market in Kuching,” said Tan to The Borneo Post.

However, with a strengthening Australian dollar and weakening ringgit, keeping prices affordable has been a challenge for VESB who has guided that they’ve attempted to absorb most of the increasing costs.

In continued efforts to keep the products affordable, VESB and Miracolo have chosen to target smaller pharmacies rather than chain pharmacies as smaller pharmacies will be able to keep price lower.

Diana Su, owner of Miracolo, added that pharmacies were also chosen over spa and beauty businesses as retailers due to its larger market reach from an extensive network.

Meanwhile, industry representatives conveyed much interest in the showcased organic products, remarking that their own customer bases have responded quite readily towards organic products. They expect this trend of healthier and eco-friendlier products to continue in the future.

“There has definitely been more awareness of the benefits of organic products in the wider public these days as some of our fastest moving product categories have shifted towards organic or natural products,” a representative from UMH Pharmacy (K) Sdn Bhd shared with The Borneo Post.

“Organic skin care in particular has been popular among our customers.”

Meanwhile, the demand for essential oils is on the rise in Kuching as local pharmacies are seeing increased sales in their carrier and essential oil products.

Christina Wong, chief pharmacist at SHiNE Pharmacy shared this sentiment following an increase in sales of carrier oils such as castor oils.

“Our best selling product at the moment is castor oil because it is a multipurpose carrier oil typically used to dilute essential oils or used by itself,” Wong explained, adding that essential oils cannot be used on its own.

SHiNE Pharmacy is currently the only retailer of castor oil in Kuching and the only pharmacy listed on its major website from the US.

Despite these efforts, there were still some concerns that the typical customers found in pharmacies would find the products’ price tag unattractive.

“The demand of products in Kuching is still rather conventional; locals still see pharmacies as places that retail pharmaceutical products exclusively and because of that, they don’t expect to purchase big ticket items at our outlets.

“While I believe that awareness and demand for organic products will only rise in the future, I think affordability is still an issue as it hinders many of our consumers to buy real organic products and instead opt for natural products instead,” shared another representative from a local pharmacy.

Nevertheless, Chye from Vesb remained optimistic as he believed that their pricing guide has been kept fairly affordable to consumers and expects local perception f pharmacies to begin changing soon.

“In Kuala Lumpur, the scene of pharmacies has completely changed and most are now catering towards a higher demand of health and beauty products. I anticipate this trend to follow in Kuching soon as there the demand for organic products is starting to rise rapidly here too.”