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PLI scheme for nutraceuticals industry in India: A goldmine waiting to be encashed

In terms of the nutraceutical industry, 2021 witnessed ~15% growth in demand for nutraceuticals products in the domestic market and ~12% for exports. A similar trend is expected to continue in 2022. 

The time is now. While we extend our teachings to the outside world, we should apply for more patents in the name of India.
The time is now. While we extend our teachings to the outside world, we should apply for more patents in the name of India.

By Sanjaya Mariwala

If 2021 will be remembered as the year full of challenges for Indian businesses, the year will also be known for rolling out important schemes and key reforms for making some sectors competitive and improving ease of doing business. One such scheme is the production-linked incentive (PLI) for various sectors with the intent to boost domestic manufacturing and export.

As we enter the New Year, we are reminded by the Covid-19 pandemic that it is very much around. Everyone’s list of New Year resolutions will now include two additions – prevent and prepare. Because of the pandemic, people, especially the younger generation, are focused on preventive care and overall wellbeing. The focus is on building immunity, overall nutrition intake via a mix of food and supplements, and mental wellbeing.

In terms of the nutraceutical industry, 2021 witnessed ~15% growth in demand for nutraceuticals products in the domestic market and ~12% for exports. A similar trend is expected to continue in 2022. 

The nutraceuticals industry in India is growing at a double-digit rate and the PLI scheme can be the catalyst to accelerate this growth. There is a need to focus on building an Agri supply chain, robust research and development of infrastructure and encourage innovation at various levels. This is where the PLI scheme and a robust PPP model can contribute monetarily and non-monetarily at all levels of research, technology, and manufacturing. With little intervention, the government can encourage growth and empower the nutraceutical industry.

PLI scheme for the nutraceutical industry if carefully drafted with an integrated approach can significantly boost the agriculture sector too.

THE IMPLEMENTATION

Once the government comes up with the eligibility criteria, including the size of the company, type of the products and so on, the scheme should be rolled out quickly to take advantage of the growing demand. With initial learnings, it can then be taken forward to cover the entire supply chain, starting from the farms to formulations. 

 The government has recently extended the PLI scheme for textiles, with an approved outlay of Rs 10,683 crore over five years period, to promote the production of MMF (man-made fibre) Apparel, MMF fabrics, and products of technical textiles in the country. We are encouraged to see the regulators are putting all the efforts to revive various sectors wherein India has a natural advantage either due to the availability of raw materials or an age-old legacy linked edge. We are hopeful that the regulators will give due emphasis to the upcoming industries like nutraceuticals irrespective of their current scale and size. 

Proximity to the raw materials, ancient heritage of nature-based science including Ayurveda, chemical expertise to lead research and product innovations, all these are India’s advantages, and we must leverage them to manufacture more value-added products for both domestic consumption as well as boost exports. Manufacturing nutra formulations and final products is a little complex process and impetus from the regulators like the PLI scheme will encourage both, new and existing industry players. 

 India is home to nearly 2,000 medicinal plants. The country has made curcumin, ashwagandha, haldi milk, and many such medicinal hacks universally famous. The time is now. While we extend our teachings to the outside world, we should apply for more patents in the name of India.

Today, the global nutraceutical market is worth ~$400 billion, with the United States eating more than half the pie worth ~$240 billion. China accounts for ~14% of the total and India has just a 2% share. India can easily overtake China if all the stakeholders work together with the government providing necessary push through schemes like PLI. 

Basically, the industry is happy to work with the government and develop a scheme jointly. At the moment, this wish remains unfulfilled as there is no nodal ministry supporting the Nutraceuticals industry, though there is a task force currently working under the PSA to the PM GOI. This task force will take up the issue as a part of its agenda going forward.

(The author is Founder President of the Association of Herbal and Nutraceuticals Manufacturers of India (AHNMI) and Executive Chairman and Managing Director at OmniActive Health Technologies. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Financial Express Online.)

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