“The sports nutrition market is growing at a CAGR of 8.2% and will hit $8.13 billion in 2027”

Ajay Khanna, Senior Vice President and Managing Director, Herbalife India

Herbalife is a global nutrition company, making a mark globally for 40 years and for more than two decades in India. The company offers a wide range of products that vary from weight management, target nutrition and sports nutrition. Speaking with nuFFOODS Spectrum, Ajay Khanna, Senior Vice President and Managing Director, Herbalife India takes us through the recent developments in the company. Edited Excerpts:

What has been the journey of Herbalife in the Indian health supplements market? 

Herbalife is a premium nutrition and wellness company paving the way for a healthy and active life among individuals. In the last two decades, Herbalife has entered a wide range of products that vary from weight management, targeted nutrition, and sports nutrition. 

As you know, the market is the driving force in our industry, we have been witnessing a growing demand for localised flavours in our Formula1 weight management category. In the last three years, we have launched three new flavours Rose Kheer, Kulfi, and recently the Paan flavours which complement the daily nutrition requirements of our consumers in a local flavour they enjoy the most. 

With an increasing focus on wellness and active lifestyle in India, we entered the sports nutrition category in 2018. Sports nutrition is another category gaining momentum amongst fitness enthusiasts to increase their performance. To address this growing demand, we launched the H24 Rebuild and Hydrate which helps individuals recover faster. Our Vritilife range of products is based on Ayurvedic principles and contains authentic Ayurvedic herbs for the specific health benefits mentioned in ancient Ayurvedic texts. While following the age-old principles the product is contemporised to meet modern-day lifestyles. This year Herbalife also entered the eye health segment with its new product, ‘Ocular Defense” which contains nutrients that help in the maintenance of normal vision and help in supporting macular health. 

What has been the status of sports nutrition health supplements in the Indian market and globally? 

Sports nutrition is one of the fastest-growing categories in India. The sports nutrition market is growing at a CAGR of 8.2 per cent and is expected to reach $8.13 billion in 2027. We have extended our product lines towards a wide range of sports nutrition products including protein, essential amino acids, healthy carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, and hydration, the body requires. 

Sports is one of the major areas we are heavily investing in, as sports and well-being go hand in hand. By choosing Herbalife products, athletes can be sure they are getting a quality product that is safe and effective. Herbalife sponsors more than 100 world-class athletes, teams, and events around the globe, which include sporting legends like Christiano Ronaldo, Virat Kohli and Smriti Mandhana. We are also sponsoring Manika Batra, Lakshya Sen, Palki Kohli and Mary Kom. 

What should be the agenda of FSSAI for the next 10 years to boost India’s sports nutrition industry? 

Herbalife is currently in its second year of a multi-year partnership with FSSAI that is centred around promoting nutritional knowledge and ensuring the availability of safe and wholesome food for individuals across India. Our collaboration demonstrates the shared commitment of both organisations toward improving the health of the Indian population. In line with the Eat Right Campaign, FSSAI aims to raise awareness about the importance of nutrition, good food habits, and preventive healthcare. The mega movement is a collective endeavour with the Prime Minister’s flagship agenda of holistic nourishment and Poshan Abhiyaan (National Nutrition Mission), to empower a healthier and nourished India with greater food security.

Over the next 10 years, we see FSSAI playing a key role in creating a regulatory environment that is conducive to innovation – around such areas as research, ingredients, marketing, and labelling – allowing for greater collaboration between industry, academia, government and the scientific community to bring healthy nutrition to more and more people.

What are the different health categories Herbalife is focusing on?  

Herbalife has a diverse portfolio of products that are aimed at supporting the health and wellness needs of its consumers, weight management, sports and fitness, targeted health, and skin. Our business has more than doubled in size in the last 5 years. The weight management category is our flagship product contributing more than 70 per cent to our overall sales.

With a steep rise in sports nutrition as a category, Herbalife has targeted products that facilitate all those who exercise – from professional athletes to ‘weekend warriors’ – to meet their daily nutrition goals and enable them to reach their optimal performance levels. 

Herbalife’s portfolio of targetted nutrition products is the perfect supplement to bridge nutritional gaps, from vitamins and minerals to cardiovascular, women and men’s health, ocular support, and digestive wellness. For individuals seeking to take care of their health holistically, Herbalife has dedicated Ayurveda products, amalgamating the ancient science of living and contemporary needs.

Could you share some revenue figures for FY 2022-23 and projections for FY 2023-24? 

India stands as Herbalife’s second-largest market globally, following the United States, and has consistently achieved double-digit growth over the past three years. According to our Q2 filings, India recorded a notable increase of 16.6 per cent in net sales during the first six months of 2023 compared to the corresponding period in 2022. As a listed company, we are unable to make forward-looking statements but are confident we are well-placed to take advantage of growing segments within the nutrition space.

Are there any new products in the pipeline? 

Herbalife has been operating in India for more than two decades. We have never stopped innovating our products and enhancing our distribution channel to provide our distributors and their customers with the highest quality service and products. When our brand was launched in India we focused on weight management products, but today our product portfolio crosses different categories to address the wellness requirements of our consumers. 

We constantly research and develop new products that suit the nutrient requirements of our consumers and promote health and well-being. In 2020 we introduced a range of Ayurveda products and in 2018 H24 was launched. Earlier this year, the company entered a new product segment – ‘Ocular Defense’ which is scientifically developed to support and nourish the eye’s macular health. Herbalife has also enhanced our existing portfolio, successfully launching India palate-friendly flavours like Rose Kheer, Kulfi, and most recently Paan flavours in our flagship product, Formula1 nutrition shake mix. 

Highlight the R&D efforts of the company.

We have made significant investments in our research and development facility in Bengaluru as part of our commitment to product excellence and quality. The lab facility recently received accreditation from the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) for chemical and biological disciplines. We have introduced localised products for the Indian market, including specific flavours and an Ayurveda range. We have entered new product categories, such as sports and fitness and ocular health.

The 155000 sq. ft. space in Bangalore also has sensory booths, stability chambers, and botanical herbariums to meet the demand with testing of new products, developing raw materials and testing finished products. It also houses an Ayurveda lab to innovate and develop new products in this category.

Mansi Jamsudkar


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