By Wezi Tjaronda
Natural range states – Namibia, South Africa and Botswana – of hoodia have less than a year to put the industry in order before products masquerading as hoodia can take over the market.
Hoodia gordonii, a succulent plant in southern Africa, which has appetite-suppressing properties, is already under pressure from other slimming products on the market.
Experts say the hoodia industry is under pressure to put its house in order to take advantage of the high prices being offered on the market now.
Already lots of companies abroad are selling hoodia that is adulterated with spinach or wood shavings at rock bottom prices; for example, US$40/kg, when the genuine product is going for anything up to US$200/kg.
The biggest market for the product, which was originally used by the San and Nama tribes in Namibia, is the United States of America, although the product may also penetrate the EU market once regulation issues get sorted out.
“There’s lots of interest in the EU, but the product cannot be sold there. We need to cross the barriers to get into that market,” said Rikus Muller, Executive Director (Processing and New Business Development) of Grassroots, a South African natural products company, recently at a hoodia Information Day on Farm Jena.
Muller said the three countries should ensure that they establish markets whilst at the same time gearing up for production in order to have a long-term industry.
What the industry needs now is to give scientific backing in the form of clinical studies to prove that hoodia really suppresses one’s appetite, because the history of the plant is not documented.
“We have to look for proof that will make it easier for us when we say hoodia is safe to use,” he said.
To have hoodia legally listed in the EU will cost no less than 50??????’??