“We should establish a task force to make nutraceuticals into $25 B industry for India”

31 December 2021 | Opinion

In 2017 the Indian Nutraceutical market had a 2 per cent share of the global pie. It was estimated to touch $5 billion in 2019 and $11 billion by 2023. However, present trends are likely to beat these projections, considering the pandemic period which has led to its exponential growth. During an interaction with FFooDS Spectrum, Sanjaya Mariwala, Executive Chairman and Managing Director, Omni Active Health Technologies, Mumbai sheds further light on the growth of the nutraceutical sector in India.

How did the company perform during FY20-21 and what are the projections this year?

For OmniActive, FY21 has been a mixed year. We have grown at about 15-16 per cent growth rate, but it has been patchy, largely due to the uncertainty around COVID-19, rise in costs due to inflation and increased freight rates, and lastly, the impact due to the climatic conditions that have affected supplies of some of our raw materials.

 

Are you planning to launch any new products, particularly in the immunity-boosting space? What are the major plans for 2022?

Immunity forms the base for overall wellbeing, and it is crucial to keep a watch on it. Our product Gingever, is a high-potency ginger extract designed to support digestive and immune health at a low-dose. It has recently received the Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status as well. Our team is actively involved in clinical research and innovating new formulations. 

We must understand that there are far deeper and more addressable health challenges that can be prevented through supplementation. We are already witnessing a lot of promise in the sleep category, and so is the case for other issues such as stress, anxiety, and mental health. At OmniActive we are focusing on all these categories. We do understand that it is important to focus on multiple aspects of human well-being, and we endeavour to alleviate the problems that are now spreading across age groups.

Another vital fundamental thing we all should know is that immunity is not the only aspect of our wellbeing. Despite the exponential increase in demand in the immunity product market, supplements alone cannot stop the spread of any pandemic/ diseases. Overall wellbeing is extremely important, and so should be the approach to address it. 

 

How has the Indian market fared when it comes to the launch of various immune-boosting products?

Overall demand for nutraceutical products, dietary supplements, and preventive wellness products has seen remarkable growth across the country. Even as vaccination covers large swathes of the population, people have realised the importance of preventive care. They understand that eating right, exercising, adding more fruits and vegetables, and staying hydrated will improve overall immunity. 

During the first wave, the demand from the top 4 metros rose significantly. West Bengal and Northeast were strong too. Tier 2 and 3 cities in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Haryana, Rajasthan, and Gujarat also saw rising trends post-pandemic. Today, the citizens of India, and people across the world, are far more invested in preventive health and natural wellness than before. That’s one of the reasons the nutraceuticals market in India is expected to grow from an estimated $4 billion to $18 billion by the end of 2025. 

 

Export of raw materials is always a concern for companies manufacturing nutraceutical products. How is OmniActive addressing the concern?

The nutraceutical sector is a meaningful contributor to India’s export basket. The country is endowed with medicinal plants and herbs and is the third largest supplier of the majority of these raw materials globally. With the expansion of nutraceutical product manufacturing, the export of value-added products has increased. I strongly believe that the extension of schemes like Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) to the nutra sector can further increase the scope of enlarging the export revenue for our country. It will significantly benefit the farmers too. Scale in the nutra sector can’t be achieved without scale in agricultural output of the required raw materials. This is bound to offer more employment and better economic benefits to the farmers.

 

What are your expectations from the government?

Data says that at the end of 2019, Europe and the United States were the two major herbal product markets in the world, with a market share of 41 per cent and 20 per cent, respectively. Despite a strong foundation of Ayurveda in India, there is a lack of a well-defined policy on globalisation of Ayurveda and nutraceutical products, lack of infrastructure, limited incentives, and impetus to innovate limiting the growth in this space.

Ideally, under a Joint Secretary at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, we should establish a cross-ministerial task force that creates a plan and sets a goal to make the nutraceuticals into a $25 billion industry for India. This is not unachievable. All we need is an established authority ably supported by various ministries and bodies from agriculture, health, CSO, DGFT, HADSA, MoEF, MoFPI, and FSSAI.

We also need to establish Harmonised System of Nomenclature (HSN) codes for the industry, establish a centrally powerful authority to help interface on intra-ministry issues and resolutions, and create an export body for the industry. Additionally, a strong PPP approach may be a game-changer. The Government must explore research and development in this field and deploy the PPP model to deliver the benefits of these nutrients to the undernourished population of our country. This will boost domestic consumption and hence the size of the industry.

 

How do you foresee the role of technology in fostering the growth of the nutraceutical sector in the coming years?

The biggest consumers of nutraceutical products today are Gen Z and Gen X. Technology has enabled the information flow. And thus, has enhanced awareness about healthy lifestyle, organic and nutrition-based food, the importance of functional food and dietary supplements, and in turn preventive care science. This has aided the double-digit growth for the nutraceutical industry in the last few years and will continue to drive for at least a decade more.

Opportunities are not limited to manufacturing-led solutions. The industry offers a variety of prospects that are even technology-led. Entrepreneurs can develop solutions that can help traceability, one of the critical parameters in global trade. Starting from where and how the crops are grown to every stage it passes through can be tracked using various traceability solutions. It adds to quality assurance and thus attracts global demand. RFID Tagging, Blockchain, and Distributed Ledger Techniques (DLT) lead the way in technological solutions for traceability.

 

Sanjiv Das

(sanjiv.das@mmactiv.com) 

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