Chinese Vitamin Firm Exports From US to China
International Vitamin Corporation was founded in 2010 when a group of Chinese investors bought the vitamin and nutritional supplement business from Inverness Medical (now known as Alere ALR) for $63.4 million.
With the exception of having overseas owners, "this organization is no different from any US operation," says CEO Steven Dai, originally from China, but educated at Rutgers University.
IVC manufactures private-label vitamins and nutritional supplements at two facilities in New Jersey, and its products can be found at major retailers such as Walmart, Walgreen, Wegmans, Shoprite, and RiteAid.
Since purchasing the company, the new owners "have invested upwards of hundreds of millions of dollars," Dai says, improving its IT backbone, expanding its warehouse facilities and increasing the number of employees (all Americans) from 280 to 400. Dai says that with those moves, the company's market-share position has moved from #5 to #2.
(Read More: China Finding Ways to Buy Big Into US)
But IVC has a much bigger—some would say counterintuitive—goal: selling to the Chinese consumer.
The long-dominant story of Chinese-American trade is to manufacture in China, but sell to the US. IVC wants to turn that upside down: the CEO says when it comes to nutritional products, "Made in the USA" garners trust in China. U.S.-made vitamins will sell at a premium.
"They have the perception that 'U.S.-made' is a premium product, has high quality and high efficacy, is more trusted," he says.
—By CNBC's Michelle Caruso-Cabrera. Follow her on Twitter: @MCaruso_Cabrera