It is common knowledge that the best source of nutrition for the body comes from the traditional foods such as fruits and vegetables made at home with great care and love. But over the past few decades, changes in the method of growing crops by using harmful chemicals and pesticides, artificial ripening of fruits and vegetables have depleted the nutritional values in our regular foods.
Our body needs the daily dose of nutrition in the form of vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates, fats and other nutrients for it to sustain. While the result of a scarce supply of the required daily dose of nutrients to the body may not be seen immediately, it ultimately will manifest itself in the form of various ailments in the long run.
Good nutrition is very important before during and after an infection. Infections take a toll on the body especially when these cause fever, the body needs extra energy and nutrients. Therefore, maintaining a healthy diet is very important during the COVID-19 pandemic. While no foods or dietary supplements can prevent COVID-19 infection, maintaining a healthy diet is an important part of supporting a strong immune system.
Keeping in line with the adage “Prevention is better than cure”, nutraceuticals play a prominent role in preventive healthcare. Nutritional care which forms an integral part of preventive healthcare is undergoing a transformation in India. The current generation is looking for preventive healthcare measures rather than remedial reactions. Due to higher disposable incomes and growing awareness about preventive healthcare, the Indian consumer is actively considering various options to improve his / her health and lifestyle.
Globally and in India the nutraceuticals segment has undergone its fair share of churn. From a one-solution-fits-all scenario, the space has witnessed mushrooming of various products to address specific needs – bone health, calcium supplements, weight management, proteins and immunity boosters according to age, to name a few.
Nutraceuticals can be broadly divided into: Dietary supplements (including vitamins and minerals) and Functional foods and beverages (such as energy and sports drinks, probiotics, products fortified with omega-3 fatty acids and herbal formulations). According to a joint study by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) in association with its knowledge partner RNCOS, the Indian nutraceutical market is poised to reach $8.5 billion by 2022. Functional food & beverages are expected to grow with a higher growth rate due to the increasing visibility of such products in modern retail formats and promotional activities.
In the past, urban India, or more precisely the metros, were the target markets for nutraceutical sales, but consumption patterns have witnessed a shift with a steady increase in demand from Tier II and Tier III cities. This trend will only gather momentum especially because of the large-scale digitization happening in India.
Growing concerns about nutrition and health thanks to digitization and social media has led consumers to look for preventive healthcare measures. High hospitalization costs and complex medical procedures which can be avoided are driving consumers towards health supplements and nutraceuticals. Stress factors due to a busy lifestyle which leads to changing dietary patterns has led people to look for alternative food supplements to enhance their health.
Looking and feeling good is another significant driver for the nutraceuticals space to witness a robust growth. Body weight, hair growth and a glowing skin are top priorities for today’s consumer. Remedial cost far outstrips preventive measures and this is where nutraceuticals comes in.
However, lack of a clear regulatory framework has been a major challenge to the growth and wide spread acceptance of nutraceuticals as a segment in India. Counterfeit products which are unregistered and unapproved has led to scepticism and lack of trust from consumers as well as within the industry trade community. But with new players entering the market and rapid innovation happening within the industry, things seem brighter at the other end.
Dr Muhammed Majeed, Founder and Chairman, Sami-Sabinsa Group, Bengaluru