Nutra industry and the regulator’s role

The nutra industry needs contribution from every stakeholder to position the industry as one of the core contributors under healthcare, Sanjaya Mariwala, Founder President, Association of Herbal and Nutraceuticals Manufacturers of India (AHNMI) and Executive Chairman and Managing Director, OmniActive Health Technologies, explains why

The global nutraceuticals market size was valued at $417.66 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.9 per cent from 2020 to 2028, according to a report by the US industry analyst Grand View Research. Not only in India, but globally, rising healthcare costs coupled with the increasing demand for preventive healthcare is driving the nutraceutical industry.

The COVID-19 pandemic keeps reminding us that we can no longer afford any laxity towards overall health. People across strata – economic and social – are now at least attempting to exercise, eat healthy, and include dietary supplements.

There is no doubt that even after the fear of the pandemic settles down, these behavioural shifts will continue. All of this is beneficial to the nutraceutical industry because its core belief is prevention of ailments.

However, at present, nutraceuticals do not have a specific definition. Everything – from food supplements, herbal products, pre-and probiotics, functional foods, fortified food to medicines – comes under the title nutraceutical. This often leads to a lack of clear information about the products and medicines to prevent and treat pathological conditions unlike in the case of conventional pharmaceutical therapy.

It is, therefore, of utmost importance to have a proper and unequivocal definition of nutraceuticals and shared regulations. It also seems wise to assess the safety, mechanism of action and efficacy of nutraceuticals with clinical data.

What needs to be done

The nutra industry needs contribution from every stakeholder to position the industry as one of the core contributors under healthcare. There is an urgent need for dedicated desk for promoting and streamlining the industry and the exports and imports. The government, with the help of all stakeholders, must encourage the PPP model to augment research and innovation, and have a relook at the laws and policies that are indirectly penalising the industry.

One such example is the Bio-Diversity Act. This act discourages nutra industry, which is a major end consumer of the products that fall under the act, to opt for backward integration. There is no incentive for the nutra players to enter even the contract farming to support the farmers. These are some of the immediate steps the government should take along with creating policies around product standardisation and minimising product adulteration.

Moreover, providing production-linked incentives (PLIs) to the nutra sector will prove to be a game-changer, as it will stimulate the needed investment to multiply, and will enable making India one of the leading manufacturing hubs for the players in naturals and botanicals.

Both the government and the nutra industry players are on the same team, and what is needed for the ‘run rate’ to increase is a solid partnership. We founded the Association of Herbal and Nutraceuticals Manufacturers of India (AHNMI) with an aim to discuss the issues with the regulators and bring solutions to grow in scale and size.

What we also need is the agri-farm linked enterprise model. Better communication with farmers and cultivators is mutually beneficial. It’s time to move forward and create a separate identity for the nutraceutical industry.

COVID-19nutraceutical exportsnutraceutical importsNutraceutical IndustrySanjay Mariwala
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