In the U.S., consumers may balk if coworkers hawk vitamins or skin creams to them at lunch hour.

But in Asia, such sales pitches are greeted more warmly. Companies that sell directly to consumers are thriving in the fast-growing region, even as U.S. sales flatten.

Asians are gobbling up products from the likes of Herbalife (HLF), Usana Health Sciences (USNA), Nu Skin Enterprises (NUS) and Tupper-ware (TUP). Ranging from protein shakes to energy boosters to simple kitchen containers, the products generally are sold by nonpayroll local distributors.

China, India, Indonesia and South Korea are among the growth markets.

“It’s a very accepted way of doing business in Asia. There’s not a sophisticated retail infrastructure as there is in the West,” said John DeSimone, CFO at Herbalife, which sells weight-control shakes and other nutritional potions.

Photo by labor2008