AFTER a bull run on a body-trimming seaweed soap bar which pushed prices to as much as 13 times its retail original, a Wuzhou manufacturer hopes to again hit the jackpot with a weight-maintenance and weight-adding bar. Cashing in on body beautiful, Wuzhou Daily-use Chemical Company hopes to have its new product on the market by the end of the year. The soap rush was first triggered by another company, Far East Cosmetics & Health Products Co. Far East slimming soap has been in such demand in Japan that a bar could fetch 3,600 yen (about HK$273.6) - more than 13 times the retail price in Hong Kong. More than 10,000 bars were reported to have been confiscated at Narita airport in recent months as shape-conscious women tried to bring in more than the 24 bars allowed into Japan. The soap is also sold in China, Hong Kong, Korea, Taiwan and other Southeast Asian countries and the manufacturer is laughing all the way to the bank. Far East expects this year's sales to exceed last year's several times over. August sales alone have matched those of the whole of 1994. The company sold nearly 10 million bars for 100 million yuan that month. Far East director at the general manager's office Xie Qing said sales slowed with the approach of winter as fewer people, especially those in Northern China, took baths in the chilly weather. The emergence of copycat products and talk that the soap was not as magical as claimed also affected sales. Arch-rival, Daily-use, started production of its own seaweed slimming soap this year. Daily-use Chemical chairman Zhou Zhenlong said his company first developed the product several years ago and began retailing the product only after obtaining a clean bill of health from the government following thorough research. A clinical study by Guangxi Wuzhou People's Hospital claims the soap produced by Wuzhou Daily-use Chemical was 91.8 per cent effective and had no side effects. The hospital monitored the progress of 110 obese male and female volunteers using three bars continuously over a 90-day period. The successful cases showed that the volunteers shed an average of 2.27 kg. To be effective, users have to use the soap for massaging the body to accelerate blood circulation, use up calories and squeeze fat out of the body.