Vital Health Foods provides staff with vitamins and supplements as part of its wellness campaign

Vitamin C and zinc mineral supplements, the first line of defence against the Covid-19 virus, have helped boost sales in SA’s R7bn complementary health-care market by an overall 22.6%, says Vital Health Foods, one of SA’s leading and Africa’s largest manufacturer of vitamins and mineral supplements.

Vital Health Foods CEO Justin Williamson says Vital vitamin C sales soared by 450% and zinc by 300% by mid-January 2021. Further impetus was provided by doctors prescribing both products to patients as immune system boosters. At the same time, sales of over-the-counter multivitamins grew by 100%.

“These sales pushed the overall growth of the sector, despite sales of other products remaining static. The growth, therefore, illustrated a shift in spending on complementary health products rather than consistent growth across the sector,” says Williamson.

Vital sales of offerings in the essential fatty-acid niche and other products grew marginally above pre-Covid levels.ADVERTISING

We need to face the possibility that Covid-19 in various forms will be with us for some time, which means that the role of supplements to help strengthen our immune systems has become more critical than ever.

People who obey regulations regarding masks and social distancing, and take precautions to bolster their health, will have a better chance of avoiding becoming infected. 

Surprisingly, there had been a comparatively low take-up of products by the corporate and business sectors to increase the immunity of their employees against the spreading virus, says Williamson. 

As part of its wellness campaign, Vital provides about 300 staff with vitamins and supplements, supporting their efforts with transport between homes and work so that crowded public transport can be avoided. Picture: SUPPLIED/VITAL HEALTH FOODS

“We believe that our proactive approach is playing a major part in helping our staff avoid infection. We challenge all SA companies to follow our lead and take this basic step in ensuring their employees’ health. 

“As part of our obligation to promote wellness, we offer all companies wishing to take this initiative to contact Vital Health. We will assist by not only assessing your requirements, but also offering direct purchasing facilities for bulk requirements.”

Recalling the challenges faced during the first Covid-19 wave, Williamson says it became difficult to meet market needs. With vitamin C and zinc sales increasing to about 2-million tablets a month and production to 60-million units, Vital was forced to adapt its standard sourcing procedures. 

“Demand rose suddenly, and many of our raw material suppliers in Europe and the East shut down. Where material was shipped, delivery delays of up to three weeks were common.

“Our customers are invested in the Vital brand. To meet these expectations, we opted to fly in materials where it was necessary — often at a shipping cost that dwarfed the commercial value of the materials involved. We have since managed to get delivery of a bulk shipment and have no problems with meeting future demand.”

“We will continue to meet our customers’ health needs, and products will be freely available across the country, despite the spikes in demand that may arise as hotspots occur,” says Williamson. 


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