The region accounted for 44 percent of global nutraceutical sales in 2006, compared to 32 percent for North America and 14 percent for Western Europe. Latin America and Eastern Europe lagged behind at around 3 percent each, while the African, Middle Eastern and Australasian markets jointly accounted for 3 percent of global sales, according to figures drawn together by Capsugel's global business development manager for dietary supplements Peter Zambetti. "Asia Pacific is quite surprisingly the largest global market. There's a lot of change going on right now, and a lot of opportunities for dietary supplements," he said. Zambetti, who is also in the International Alliance of Dietary/Food Supplement Association's (IADSA) global market affairs department, was addressing attendees at the recent Supply Side East trade show in Secaucus, New Jersey, where he presented an overview of the global nutraceuticals market. Included in Zambetti's definition of 'nutraceuticals' were vitamins, dietary supplements, botanicals, tonics and homeopathic remedies. According to the data he pooled from Euromonitor, Datamonitor, Mintel and Nutrition Business Journal, the global market for these products was worth over $52bn in 2006 - the latest comprehensive figures available - with estimates suggesting that the market has since grown an additional 4-6 percent. The US remained the largest single nation market, with 2006 sales placed at $15.6bn. Japan was the second single largest market, worth $11.4bn despite a significant decline in sales from prior years brought on by regulatory changes that have placed pressure on the industry. China came third, with sales of $5.9bn in 2006, while South Korea was next, with a market valued at $1.9bn. Together with the $1.3bn Taiwanese market, which was the seventh in line in terms of size, these markets in the Asia Pacific region made up around $20.5bn of nutraceutical sales. Sales in Australia reached around $785m, while Australasia recorded sales of around $891m. Asia Pacific Zambetti also provided a break-down of the market preferences in different regions around the world. In Asia Pacific, he said the most popular single nutraceuticals category was that of tonics, which accounted for around $4bn in sales in 2006. Calcium was next, recording sales of over $1.5bn, followed by protein powder, which saw almost $1bn in sales. Other products in descending order of popularity included child-specific nutraceuticals, glucosamine, ginseng, minerals, probiotics and fish oils. China In the Chinese market, the most popular single nutraceutical was calcium, which saw sales of around $1bn in 2006. Protein powder was next, with sales of around $700m. Zambetti highlighted the fact that protein powder is particularly popular as a gift in China, where it is often presented to hosts in the same way that western consumers may present wine as a gift. Multivitamins were the third largest single category, accounting for over $600m in sales. Tonics came close behind, followed by child-specific products at just under $400m. Ginseng accounted for over $350m in sales, while fish oils were around the $100m mark, followed by minerals. China also had a large 'other' category, which accounted for over $1.5bn in sales. This included combination formulas, Lingzhi and E-Jiao, which is made from donkey hides, and which is thought to help with diarrhea. During 2007, Zambetti said that growth in the Chinese market slowed to six percent on the back of direct selling issues. "It's a very expensive market to get into, but there are huge opportunities there for targeting the middle class," he said. Japan Combination formulas in Japan were the largest nutraceuticals category in 2006, accounting for over $650m, said Zambetti. Probiotics came next, with over $350m in sales. Prune products came in third, with sales of over $300m. Zambetti explained that prune extract is sold in Japan to aid digestion. Royal jelly and calcium also had sales of over $300m, followed closely by amino acid products. Co-Enzyme Q10 and Agaricus both recorded sales of over $250m. Japan was the only major dietary supplement market to show a decline in 2007, said Zambetti. This was due to restrictions placed on the market by regulators, which significantly limited the way in which products can be marketed and the claims they can make.