Herbalife is a global nutrition company that has helped people pursue a healthy, active life since 1980. It covers nutrition, weight-management and personal care products exclusively through dedicated independent Members in more than 90 countries.
Herbalife sponsors more than 150 sporting events, teams and athletes that define the company’s commitment to a healthy active life supported by good nutrition, a commitment that is also reflected in the wellness programmes and fitness facilities provided for employees.
India has also partnership with the Magic Bus India Foundation initiative of Herbalife to reach out to 3,000 underprivileged children across Bengaluru, Chennai and Pune to help support their development through sports and education. As senior manager of regulatory, government and industry affairs at Herbalife, Alex Lin handled several projects in India, Shanghai, Tianjin and Beijing. As India is growing towards a healthy society, Alex Lin talked to Nuffoods Spectrum about their activities in India, how market is rejoining towards nutritional food products and food trade issues in South Asian market.
1. What is your take on trade barriers in the food sector in the South Asian market?
Trade liberalization in the sub-continent opens up various trade agreements with each other including free trade, as well as with countries outside the region. The South Asian Preferential Trading Agreement (SAPTA) was signed in 1997, and the South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) became operational in 2006. Through these regional agreements, South Asian countries have signed several bilateral and global agreements designed to open up opportunities for international trade. In this sense, the intention of countries in South Asia to promote free trade is no longer in doubt; however, it is at the level of implementation that the region fails to perform.
The major issues are as surfaced:
- Testing & Certification: mainly infrastructural issues across the region. Lack of testing facilities for quality and sanitary & phyto sanitary (SPS) requirements in certain places.
- Packaging & labeling: Rectifications of existing label – Products conforming to the standards of the exporting countries are often not recognized by importing countries in the region. Re-labeling often entails expenses for repackaging, stickering, warehousing to make country-specific labels.
2. How do you see the Indian market responding towards Herbalife’s nutritional food products?
Herbalife has been operational in India since 1999. Seventeen years ago, nutritional requirements gap was not much talked about. However, over the years the methods of growing crops, chemicals used thereon, changes in lifestyle may have led to nutritional depletion resulting in many lifestyle disorders. As a nutritional food products company, it is Herbalife’s philosophy to change people’s live through nutritional food supplements, towards healthy active lifestyle. Consumers realize that it is important to consume nutritional food products which are safe. This is an area that Herbalife excels in.
Herbalife is unique because of the one-on-one coaching and support that Herbalife Associates provide to their customers. Herbalife customers receive much more than a product, they get steady support and nutrition -management towards their fitness goals. This personalized one-on-one approach is another success factor for Herbalife.
3. How do you find the regulatory bodies responding towards the business of functional food companies in India?
Presently, the food industry is awaiting for the final notification from the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) with regard to a special category of food products that includes functional food.
4. What is the progress on the initiative that Herbalife took with Magic Bus Foundation in India to support 3,000 underprivileged children?
Promoting healthy active living through sports is one of our prime focus. Woven into this fabric is also our community development initiatives, which aims to provide nutrition supplements to the less privileged and marginalized children. Herbalife India’s work with Magic Bus weaves sports and nutrition for the development and empowerment of children. Under this initiative, we endeavor to empower 3000 marginalized children under the “Sports for Development” initiative; and to encourage sports excellence (Football) for a select group of 175 children under the “Sports for Excellence” program.
We are proud to see such children’s’ development that we have achieved to date. Under the Sports for Development initiative, 40 football sessions have been held with exposure visits to matches such as iLeague, ISL and camps, participation in district and state level camps and selections, participation in the matches organized by national and International clubs such as Futsol, BFC. Under the Sports for Excellence, Bangalore Senior team won Futsol under 18 National Cup; Chennai Junior team were runner up in the finals of Futsol Under 15; 11 players from Bangalore Junior team were selected to escort the International players at iLeague Inaugural match.
Alex Lin will be speaking at the Vitafoods Asia 2016 Conference, taking place from 1-2 September at the Asia-World Expo, Hong Kong.