Opportunities for analytical instrument companies

K V Venugopalan, President of Waters India, has been spearheading the growth of the company for the last 25 years. Today the company is one of the largest analytical organisation in Indian analytical market. Last December he was elected President of Indian Analytical Instruments Association (IAIA) which has 78 members (both local and ultinational organisations). As an exclusive professional body, IAIA has a vision to promote, encourage and develop the growth of the analytical instruments industry that is estimated to be around $1 billion (including consumables) and growing at rate of above 10%. NuFFooDS Specturm spoke to Venugopalan on his views on nutraceuticals and nutrition market in India and opportunities and challenges before the suppliers. Excerpts:

According to you, what are the trends in nutrition and nutraceuticals market in India?

The phrase “Let food be the medicine and medicine be the food,” coined by Hippocrates is receiving a lot of interest today as consumers realise the many health benefits of certain foods. Functional foods & nutraceuticals providean opportunity to improve the human health, reduce health care costs and there is growing recognition of this potential by the growing affluent middle class society in India. In India the most common forms of functional foods and nutraceuticals are available as traditional Indian Ayurvedic medicines and are marketed under different brand names. Most products are available to consumers directly over the counter without need of a medical prescription.

The size of the global nutraceuticals market is pegged at $117 billion. According to a study published recently India’s share of this is a minuscule $1 billion, but the growth pattern is impressive. While the global market is growing at 7%, the Indian market has been growing by over 18% for many years. Of the three broad categories within nutraceuticals – functional foods, functional beverages and dietary supplements – the last is growing the fastest globally, with a CAGR of 11%. In India, functional foods are the fastest growing with a 54% market share, while dietary supplements have a 32% share followed by functional beverages at 14%. Sensing the arket opportunity many Indian and multinational companies are very active in this area in India and have set up manufacturing facilities. However, there are many impediments to growth such as lack of standardisation, high pricing, lack of consumer awareness and distribution challenges. But if those concerns are addressed, given the current low per capita spend on these products and the rising instances of lifestyle diseases in India; these companies are hopeful of increasing growth in the nutraceuticals market.

How do you see the opportunities in these sectors for Bio suppliers?

The characterisation and quality control of nutraceuticals is highly regulated in most developed countries and requires all the techniques required by the conventional pharmaceutical industry. Indian nutraceuticals companies with ambitions to enter global markets will need to conduct complex characterisation, quantitation and qualification. Detection, identification and quantitation of the highly complex nutraceuticals are done using GC, LC, SFC, CE MS and NMR techniques besides routine laboratory equipment. With a potential to become as large as the pharmaceutical industry in India, analytical instrument suppliers are looking forward to this industry to grow and flourish creating new market opportunities. Who are the major players who have been offering products and services to nutrition and nutraceuticals companies for R&D and manufacturing activities?

Most of the major instrument suppliersin India have products that meet the requirements of nutraceuticals manufacturers for their R&D and quality control requirements. This includes, besides Waters companies such as Agilent, Shimadzu, Thermo, Perkin Elmer and many Indian companies.

With government of India implementing FSSA 2006, how do you see the regulatory system related to food safety and standards and its impact on the industry?

In 2006, the Indian government passed Food Safety and Standard Act, 2006, to integrate and streamline the many regulations covering nutraceuticals, foods and dietary supplements. Since the concept of ‘nutraceuticals’ is still developing in India there are no regulations dealing specifically with nutraceuticals or functional foods. Many of the claims proposed for functional foods/ nutraceuticals are of the type that would normally be considered to bring the product within the definition of a drug. Nutraceuticals by the very term signifies that it is a combination of nutrition
and pharmaceuticals. While nutrition is for ‘wellbeing’, pharmaceuticals are for curing ‘illness’. Pharmaceutical drugs must meet stringent regulations governing good manufacturing practices, testing procedures and post-market surveillance. Because of the dichotomy between foods and drugs, manufacturers of nutraceuticals/ functional foods are faced with two choices: They can either market their product with no health claims, or they can follow the more stringent regulatory requirements necessary for drugs. Either way there are benefits and pitfalls.

It is also essential to have specific regulations as regards to product approval, approval of claims, permitted additives, quantity of vitamins and minerals etc. for nutraceuticals as it is necessary to treat this segment as independent and unique entity under the Food Safety Standard Act, 2006. Once these regulations are in place and implemented properly, it will benefit the consumers to a great extent as well as the Instrument suppliers as the market opens up for large scale investments.

What are major challenges before suppliers?

There are multiple challenges for the analytical instrument suppliers as well as for the nutraceuticals manufacturers in India. Lack of well-equipped laboratories for analysis, lack of personnel with appropriate technical qualifications and expertise, inadequate skills of personnel already deployed, lack of public awareness about importance of quality and safety, etc. are some of them. Unlike pharmaceutical drugs, nutraceuticals products are widely available and minimally monitored. Companies make tall claims about their products efficacy without proper scientific backing which could impact the consumers as well as the companies in time.

Suggestions to overcome these issues.

According to Indian Nutraceuticals Market Forecast & Opportunities, 2017’, the nutraceuticals market in India is expected to grow tremendously in the next five years. The Indian nutraceuticals market revenues are expected to reach approximately $4.2 billion in 2017. The market is being strongly driven by the increasing health consciousness, rising disposable incomes, increasing number of people being affected by lifestyle diseases resulting in healthcare spending, and the shifting age structure of the Indian population. The market players of the nutraceuticals market are focussing on the industry expansion and higher product visibility. Therefore it is critically important that the Government of India treats this segment as important and critical as the Indian pharmaceutical industry with great growth potential and make investments in creating the right infrastructure including manpower development and develop clear rules and guidelines for regulation and control.


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