Image caption- (L-R) Kaushik Desai, Secretary-General, HADSA; Ajit Singh, President HADSA; Pritee Chaudhary, IRS, Regional Director, East & West Region, FSSAI; Dr Vaibhav Kulkarni, Hon. Secretary, HADSA
The Indian nutraceuticals market is currently at a nascent stage but holds promise for tremendous growth owing to a series of factors like the country’s large population base, increasing urban belt, rising middle class with disposable income, health awareness, lifestyle, and growing incidence of lifestyle-related diseases. For achieving higher growth and to reach the level of market shares on par with some other countries, additional steps and efforts are necessary. To give impetus to these efforts, The Health Foods and Dietary Supplements Association (HADSA) organised an annual conference with the theme- Stimulating nutraceutical markets–strategies & actions. The purpose of the conference was to explore ways to create a potential nutraceutical market and attract financial assistance to the sector.
The conference was inaugurated in the presence of the guest of honour, Pritee Chaudhary, IRS, Regional Director, East & West Region, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). While sharing her thoughts on the challenges associated with processing nutraceutical claims during the inaugural session, she said, “It is always very tedious to process the applications of nutraceuticals or health supplements. There are various complications and a need for compliance in matching the RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowances) levels and labelling requirements, checking the claims made, etc. I would urge on the behalf of FSSAI, that the producers should be sure about the product lines they want to introduce in the future instead of applying for bulk products so that the officials would also be at ease and the products can be cleared smoothly.”
In addition, Pritee Chaudhary said, “The manufacturers should ensure the compliance of given RDA guidelines/ The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) guidelines/ Codex guidelines in the declaration and in the product. As an association, we have to be very vigilant in this regard and I urge our members to follow good practices as it’s everyone’s responsibility to make the Indian nutraceutical industry a prominent player on domestic as well as on global platforms.”
Manufacturers of nutraceuticals have a duty to communicate the benefits of their products with supporting scientific and clinical evidence. However, inadequate documentation of the products, processes and clinical studies are proving to be hindrances in popularising nutraceuticals, consequently affecting credibility. Raising his concerns over this issue during the CEO roundtable panel discussion, Ajit Singh, President HADSA & Chairman of ACG Group said, “Besides aiming for growth, the sector has some crucial responsibilities to handle. One is to build credibility even while practising innovations. Another is to maintain the quality of the nutraceutical product. Third is to ensure the validity of the claims and lastly strategic marketing of our products in India and abroad by following the code of conduct and good manufacturing practices. We have the existing model of the pharmaceutical industry to follow in this regard.”
The conference witnessed various panel discussions on the topics such as building credibility in nutraceuticals, fueling innovation in the sector with R&D-driven efforts in product development and delivery formats, investing in the tactical plan toward food fortification, and analysing estimates of expectations vs reality of the Indian nutraceutical market.
The panels were of the opinion that building the necessary awareness about nutraceutical health supplements among consumers and healthcare professionals is crucial for the growth of the sector. On this issue, Dr U V Babu, Head R&D, Himalaya Wellness Company suggested “In terms of building trust in the health claims of nutraceutical products in the minds of consumers and health professionals, considerable efforts are necessary. To give an example, Guduchi (Tinospora Cardifolio) was suggested by the Ayush ministry during the pandemic. However, after a few months, it was claimed by a few reports that Guduchi produces liver toxins. Although, in reality, it was not Tinospora Cardifolio but Tinospora crispa (another species of Guduchi) which creates the liver toxins, the credibility of the Guduchi herb as a whole went away. Hence to build trust in the claim, we need to put a lot of effort into the authenticity of herbs. The most advanced techniques like barcoding should be implemented to ensure the authenticity of herbs. Moreover, efforts are necessary in medicinal plant cultivation practices by organisations in order to build credibility.”
Adding to Dr Babu’s thoughts, Dr Nikhil Kelkar, Jt. Managing Director, Hexagon Nutrition said, “Awareness still needs to be created amongst the consumers in India about the nutraceuticals. Hence, nutraceutical players need to leverage social media advertisements and other marketing strategies to build trust and credibility. Moreover, while talking to the scientific professionals, we need to have a backup about the product claim which increases the product acceptability.”
There was a lot of discussion about how new delivery formats should be developed to attract consumers to nutraceuticals. It is also necessary to know the consumers’ expectations of nutraceuticals and their delivery formats. Understanding the innovative routes that are available and focusing on R&D-driven innovations is imperative for growth. Moreover, according to the panel, in the last 10 years, Indian labs have taken a quantum leap in technology and other aspects, and are fully equipped to test any type of innovative product. Some labs work with companies right from the beginning of the new product development. The panel appealed to producers to be transparent with their claims and adopt a clean label concept. While emphasising the importance of investing in food fortification, the panel opined that micronutrient deficiencies are equal in lower as well as higher income groups. Around 53 per cent of women and 25 per cent of men are anaemic. A study in the Gadchiroli district showed that using fortified rice showed a reduction in anaemia by 23 per cent. Hence, for a strategic approach to a healthier India, it was suggested that clear, realistic, and easy-to-implement guidelines, and uniform implementation on a pan-India basis in terms of fortified food is the need of the hour.
Lastly, while citing his futuristic views on the Indian nutraceutical market, Dr Vaibhav Kulkarni, Director & Senior Leadership Team Member, Abbott Nutrition said “The global nutraceutical market is expected to grow with 8.9 per cent CAGR up to 2028. In terms of nutraceutical ingredients, the market is poised to grow at around 7.1 per cent CAGR. Comparing these numbers with the Indian nutraceutical market, it is growing at 12 per cent and is closer to around $8 billion. The way it is growing between 12 and 14 per cent year on year, the market has the potential to reach $100 billion by 2030. During COVID-19, the importance of health supplements escalated and is expected to shoot up in the near future. Hence, the goal of India becoming the global capital of nutraceuticals and wellness looks realistic. I hope this conference will help provide the necessary impetus to this sensitive sector.”
With this conference, HADSA aims not just to help FSSAI to create the right regulations for nutraceuticals but also to help the Indian economy by adding new players in the emerging nutraceutical sector. The event urged the government to put the nutraceutical industry on the list of Production Linked Incentive Schemes (PLI) and expressed the hope to see more schemes in future to advance the sector. HADSA is hopeful of becoming the catalyst in drawing up the guidelines for clinical trials on nutraceutical products with the help of concerned regulatory bodies.