Friday, September 14, 2007

Chinese Production of Vitamin C: Changes Affect the World Market

Big changes are ahead for Vitamin C. Prices for this ingredient are skyrocketing. The market for vitamin C is shifting as reports circulate that prices from China - the world's primary supplier - have gone through the roof. The days of dumping cheap Vitamin C on the market may be over.

We'd all had those little EMERGEN-C fizzy Vitamin C drinks--did you know that you are downing a glass full of a "health product" produced in China? Yes, the same country that brought us tainted toothpaste, poisoned fish and dangerous children's toys. But recently, China has had to crack down on quality problems and environmental issues stemming from some of their largest manufacturing centers. Production of Vitamin C in the country has been cut over the past several months, pushing prices up by more than 200 percent to a new, four-year high.

This news also shows us the risks of the world's growing dependence on China for this important vitamin. European producers, who had nearly been put out of business in the last few years by what were possibly artificially-low Chinese prices, may now have the opportunity to come back into the marketplace so that consumers are not force-fed Chinese health products.

In the last two years, both BASF and DSM have closed production facilities because of Chinese competition. Dutch-based DSM closed a manufacturing facility for Vitamin C in the United States because at the time of closing production in New Jersey, the cost of vitamin C had dropped to as low as $2 per kilo (it is now around $12).

Four of the biggest Chinese producers of Vitamin C are now facing a price-fixing suit in a New York court.

It is a shame that the little fizzy drink packages mentioned above do not have to be labeled as Chinese. I would prefer to have the option of avoiding Chinese "health products," and look forward to the day that this company and others like them find a supplier from another region of the world for Vitamin C.


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