The complementary medicines industry in Australia: What you need to know

Apr 11, 2024

Australians are seeking natural ways to manage their health and wellbeing, and the complementary medicines industry is responding with a diverse range of high-quality products and services.

At a time when Australia is chronically ill, with almost 80 per cent of people living with a long-term health condition, health is the new wealth. Consumers are increasingly and actively investing in their health, so it’s no surprise that many are choosing complementary healthcare solutions.

This focus on preventative and holistic health is reflected in the rising popularity of complementary medicines, such as vitamins, dietary supplements, and products that promote mood and relaxation. Australians are seeking natural ways to manage their health and wellbeing, and the complementary medicines industry is responding with a diverse range of high-quality products and services.

Complementary medicines cover everything from vitamins, minerals, and nutritional supplements to herbal medicines, aromatherapy products, and even traditional medicines like Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine. Regulated under the Therapeutic Goods Act (TGA), these products offer a holistic approach to health, complementing—not replacing—conventional medicine.

Complementary Medicines Australia (CMA) is the peak industry body representing a diverse range of stakeholders, from manufacturers and retailers to researchers and educators, ultimately ensuring consumers have access to safe, high-quality products.

In Australia, the complementary medicines industry supports more than just the health of consumers. It’s a dynamic industry that boasts impressive growth, world-class standards, and a significant contribution to the national economy.

Australia’s complementary medicines sector is well established, supporting not just consumer health but also the national economy. This world-class industry is a hub for research, employment, and advanced manufacturing. Australian companies have built a stellar reputation for products that meet rigorous safety standards and exceptional quality. This reputation has propelled Australian complementary medicines products onto the global stage, with international demand soaring in recent years.

Complementary medicines are used by more than 70% of Australians and are more likely to be used by those with tertiary education and a higher income. Complementary medicine, including traditional and integrative therapies, are recognised globally, including by the World Health Organisation, and actively recognised by governments such as Australia’s large trading partners, Indonesia and China, for their effective benefit.

Australia boasts one of the world’s most rigorously regulated complementary medicine product sectors and this stringent approach ensures that consumers can access responsibly formulated, evidence-based, and high-quality products. This empowers consumers to proactively integrate these options into their healthcare.

Complementary medicine is one of the few manufacturing sectors, including medicinal manufacturing sectors, to largely remain on domestic soil. Our sector contributes to Australia by employing nearly 40,000 people across manufacturing, logistics, research, retail, and more. The industry’s robust growth, fuelled by high consumer demand, is evident with annual revenue of around $6 billion in 2023.

Prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the export market for Australian complementary medicines achieved phenomenal growth—going from generating $175 million to over $1 billion in export revenue in just five years. While exports dipped slightly during the pandemic, the industry has bounced back in a big way, solidifying Australia’s position as a billion-dollar export market for complementary medicines products.

And the future of Australia’s Complementary Medicines industry looks bright. With a commitment to quality, innovation, and research, the industry is poised for continued growth, offering not only effective natural healthcare solutions but also significant economic benefits and job creation for Australians.

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