Commercial Potential of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants


Jaafar Yahya
Innovation  & Commercialisation Division, Forest Research institute Malaysia (FRIM), 52109 Kepong, Selangor
Tel: 03-62797679  E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.




Commercial Potential of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants


Medicinal and Aromatic Plants Seminar (MAPS 2010)


3rd August - 4th August (2010)

Place Held

Forest Research Institute Malaysia(FRIM)


The rainforest is a veritable pharmaceutical store. It supports the growth of medicinal plants that are rich in beneficial nutrients and active constituents used as traditional cures for various ailments as well as to maintain general health and well being. The rich diversity in natural resources of the rainforest has provided a platform for the development of the agro-based industry dealing in the manufacturing of herbal products in Malaysia.
There has been a steady growth in demand in both local and export markets for herbal extracts as food supplements either in tablets, capsule, cream, powder or liquid form. Changes are taking place in the healthcare environment in which the public is moving towards a more natural and self-care as well as an integrated total healthcare approach which will definitely enhance the prospects of biopharmaceutical remedies.
The Malaysian herbal market is growing at a rate of 15-20% per annum. In 2003, the Malaysian herbal industry was estimated to be worth RM4.55 billion. However, most of the products being marketed in Malaysia were mainly imported raw materials from China, India, Indonesia and Europe. Currently, Malaysia spends an estimated RM 7 billion annually on imports of herbal and medicinal plant products. However, the Malaysian health food Industry is growing at a steady rate of 20% per annum whilst toiletries/ cosmetics are staggering at 8-12% per annum. A point to note is that the global fragrance market is showing an increase of 25% growth (2007 vs. 2006) in which the estimated total market value is worth USD50 billion and is still growing. Most of the fragrances are from the Asia Pacific region including Japan. Malaysia’s contribution towards the world fragrance market is estimated at RM5O m (USD14.3 m) per annum. This figure indicates that there is an immense potential in growth in the fragrance market insofar as Malaysia is concerned as the current for Malaysia is less than 1%. Malaysia is in an ideal position to capture a greater share of the global market for medicinal and aromatic plants that can be converted into herb-based products such as medicines, supplements, toiletries, cosmetics and fragrances. Malaysia boasts an impressive level of biodiversity and possesses many medicinal and aromatic plants commonly sought after in the world herbal markets. Malaysia has over 12,000 species of plants of which over 1,000 have medicinal properties. The medicinal and aromatic plant industry, particularly in medicines, has several virtues as an investment proposition. It is clear that market demand is there. In the medical field alone, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) over 50% of the population in Europe and North America have used complimentary or alternative herbal medicines. WHO also notes that the traditional herbal preparations account for 30%-50% of total medicine consumption in China. This, however, does not include the herbal supplements or cosmetics, toiletries and fragrances which also allow even greater penetration into these markets. There are also indications of a demand for a more sophisticated and standardised industry offering products with proven results. Today’s consumers would tend to choose herbal medicinal products based on solid scientific evidence. With more research and getting as well as implementing the industrial standards in place, the industry will become more mature and gain more consumer confidence. This will eventually change the entire landscape of the herbal, medicinal and aromatic plants market. If these equivalencies are there, then the market will definitely grow.


Commercial potential; medicinal and aromatic plants; Malaysian herbal industry


Session 4: Invited lecture 11


Harnessing the Tropical heritage: Recent Advances in R&D and commercialization