By Suresh Garg
Changing consumer aspirations and a renewed focus on health, hygiene and wellness, especially seen during the immunity-boosting trend of the pandemic months, has led to a major boom in the preventative healthcare segment. Nutraceuticals, a term combining nutrition and pharmaceuticals, are mass-market functional foods that are available to consumers in the form of dietary supplements. Whether it’s a Vitamin C or Zinc tablet prescribed by your doctor for post-Covid recovery or skin and hair gummies increasingly being sold online — it’s all part of the nutraceutical industry that aims at health-promoting supplementation.
According to a 2022 EY report, the dietary supplements market In India grew at a double digit compound annual growth rate of 15% to reach Rs. 331 billion in FY21. As of 2018, Indian nutraceuticals market constituted nearly 2% of the global nutraceuticals market. It is expected to grow rapidly and account for 3% of global share by 2022.
In the pharmaceutical space, India has already earned itself the moniker of ‘the pharmacy of the world’ especially demonstrating its capacity to manufacture and supply vaccines in record time during the Covid-19 crisis. As the nutraceutical industry deepens its presence in the country, domestic manufacturers are fulfilling a large chunk of India’s nutraceutical demand. There are several reasons that India will continue to see growth in nutraceutical manufacturing, the topmost being a health consciousness wave that has swept over the nation.
In what are some shocking statistics, 21% of all Indians are obese, 20% from high blood pressure and 9% from diabetes. Coupled with holistic wellness trends spurred nationwide by events of 2020 and 2021, these lifestyle diseases can be managed partially with vitamin and mineral supplementation. Talking about smaller issues like allergies, pain management and minor gut irregularities, a section of consumers prefer a nutraceutical with little side effects than its pharmaceutical counterpart. The EY report also mentioned how approximately 94 per cent of Indians are worried about their family’s health against 82 per cent globally. As dietary supplements and herbal foods make a big chunk of preventive care, they are in the spotlight, and therefore top on the manufacturers’ lists.
Beauty trends among the youth are also driving growth in the wellness space, part of which are nutraceuticals containing elements like biotin, collagen and curcumin. Lifestyle-oriented brands have also tailored and differentiated their product portfolio as per the specific needs of men, women and children. Supplements like protein powders also have a wide market because of increased fitness consciousness.
Easier access to nutraceuticals via retail, e-commerce and social media sites ensure that domestically produced products find a ready direct-to-consumer (D2C) market, thereby driving up demand and sales. India’s vast e-retail architecture has resulted in naming nutraceutical and health-boosting supplements as a separate category, ensuring visibility and access for the end consumer. Promotional strategies and aggressive marketing riding on the ‘self-care’ wave are further pushing the envelope on nutraceutical sales.
It is also more common for hardcore medical pharmacies to stock and display affordable nutraceuticals — ensuring a steady supplychain and therefore, domestic manufacturing. This is especially true for more herbal and herb-derived formulations, as Indians tend to trust them more.
The sheer variety of nutraceuticals — ranging from vitamin and mineral tablets/gummies, protein powders, oils and beverages, and herbal pills and botanicals — is helpful for industry manufacturers with production capabilities for similar products. It eliminates the need for setting up manufacturing infrastructure from scratch.
Finally, India being a medicinal hub for all kinds of treatments establishes a strong workforce in the healthcare sector. As India continues to grow in the field of medicine, research and development capacities in India will see a further boost, ensuring higher quality of products at lesser costs. While there are multiple players in the nutraceutical industry, many are young and in need of further innovation and research.
Given how fast the industry is growing, India will soon achieve self-reliance in the nutraceutical manufacturing space and be an avenue for accelerated job creation.
(The author is Founder & MD of Zeon Lifesciences. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of FinancialExpress.com.)