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Japan's Kowa brings two brands to the U.S. market.

TORRANCE, Calif. -- Kowa Health Care America Inc. is a new player in the U.S. nutritional supplements market, bringing unique products to American consumers and retailers. It is a subsidiary of Kowa Co., a multinational pharmaceuticals and trading company that is based in Japan and has been in operation for more than 100 years.

Kowa Health Care is currently launching two brands in the United States:

* NutriDiet is a weight loss dietary supplement designed to aid digestion and the absorption of key nutrients. NutriDiet delivers a combination of probiotics, prebiotics (which are nutrients for probiotics) and catechins (or polyphenols), plus the antioxidants found in green tea. Together, these ingredients help promote intestinal health while they burn fat, to help users maintain a healthy weight.

* Okinawa Life is a dietary supplement that is based on the unique diet of Okinawans. In a 25-year study of longevity that covered 193 countries, residents of Okinawa were found to have the longest average lifespan, at 83 years. One important contributing factor is their diet, which is rich in fish, soy and indigenous vegetables.

As a result, Okinawa Life combines three key ingredients to help consumers maintain active, healthy lifestyles: soy isoflavones, which are plentiful in Okinawa's traditional tofu (called shima-tofu) and which provide an antioxidant benefit; zedoary, a purple turmeric that helps aid digestion; and goya, or bitter melon, which contains a number of beneficial ingredients, including vitamin C, which is a natural antioxidant, and vitamins A and B. Together, these ingredients help Okinawa Life foster vitality, immunity and longevity.

According to Tony Hatori, president of Kowa Health Care, the company's products are based on a principle developed in Japan during the 1990s called i shoku do gen, which promotes the idea that certain food items have the power to prevent and even treat disease, and that even the most basic daily diet can provide medicinal benefits. In fact, he does not consider such products as NutriDiet and Okinawa Life as mere supplements but as health food.

"This philosophy can be summed up in the statement, 'Eat well to be well" explains Hatori. "The reason why I became very interested in this philosophy is that, as we age and as we change eating habits, we're not getting sufficient nutrients from what we eat. So our health foods are not simply supplementing something we would take normally, but are rather providing specific nutrients so that our bodies function better."

Hatori sees great opportunity for Kowa Health Care in the U.S. market because of the uniqueness of its products and their proven benefits. Moreover, he notes that the company's consumer research has shown that Americans have very positive perceptions of Japanese products, including food and nutritional supplements. Most of Kowa Health Care's products and key ingredients are imported from Japan to ensure their quality.

"Our products are designed to deliver noticeable benefits after a few days of use, as well as longterm benefits," he says. "They are unique in their combination of high concentrations of key ingredients that deliver a synergistic effect."

Hatori also points to the fact that the United States accounts for about 40% of global dietary supplement sales, and the market here is still growing. That growth, he adds, is being driven in part by the expanding population of seniors as the baby boomers age.

To build consumer awareness of its brands and propel sales in mass market retail channels, Kowa Health Care will spend more than $14 million to promote its brands this year, boosting that investment to $20 million in 2013. The parent company in Japan has annual sales exceeding $3.3 billion, and is committed to a long-term investment, Hatori points out. "We believe that substantial media spending to educate consumers about the uniqueness of our products will be a key factor in driving sales and achieving success in the U.S. market," he says.

In addition to traditional advertising, Kowa Health Care will support its brands with a pharmacist-education program aimed at retailers that operate pharmacies. "Consumers rely on and trust the advice from their pharmacist when purchasing supplements," Hatori notes. "So Kowa will be devoting tremendous resources to educate pharmacists about the benefits of our products."

The response from retailers to the unique story behind the Kowa product line and the company's marketing support initiatives has been very positive, Hatori remarks.

Looking ahead, he adds that Kowa Health Care is already planning further product launches, with two slated for 2014. "These are new products with strong clinical test results to support them," he says. "Both are in categories with huge potential for growth, since they address many of the health issues that Americans face today."

Source: Minority Business Development Agency

Asian American Firms Reach Entrepreneurial Parity in Number & Employment

Asian American firms are the first minority group to reach entrepreneurial parity in number of firms and paid employees. Parity is defined as reaching proportionality between the adult Asian American population and business development measures such as numbers of firms, gross receipts and employees of Classifiable firms (excludes publicly held).

* The adult Asian population represented 4.9 percent of the U.S. adult population in 2007, while Asian Americans held 5.9 percent of all Classifiable firms, 5 percent of these firms' employment, and 4.6 percent of their receipts.

* If Asian American firms' gross receipts reflected the 2007 adult Asian population share, receipts would have amounted to $538 billion, but the actual figure for Asian American firms closely trails this amount by only $30 billion.

* The 2007 parity for paid employment was 2.8 million, and Asian American firms employed that many workers in 2007.

Gross Receipts (in $ billions)

2007 Actual               $506
2007 parity               $536
2009 Asian buying Power   $509

Note: Table made from bar graph.

Paid Employment (in millions)

2007 Actual   2.8
2007 parity   2.8

Note: Table made from bar graph.

Number of Firms (in millions)

2007 Actual   1.5
2007 Parity   1.3

Note: Table made from bar graph.
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Title Annotation:Supplier Diversity
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:Aug 12, 2013
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