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India – the emerging hub of nutraceuticals

Amit Srivastava, Chief Catalyst,, deciphers the results of a recent survey which identifed the gaps to be filled in order for India to realise its nutra potential as a $100 billion industry by 2030

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The Indian nutra industry is poised to realise the $100 billion dream, suggests a recent survey by Nutrify Today.

2016 turned out to be the year that the nutra industry began to take off in India and both the trajectory as well as the industry have since undergone a seismic evolution.

Similarly, 2020 was a game changer. The industry’s growth rate made a quantum leap from the predictable trends of 10 per cent to over 26 per cent during the COVID-19 pandemic, eventually stabilising since late 2021 at 16-18 per cent, surpassing global industry trends.

As well as an impressive trajectory, the industry underwent a holistic change, underpinned by science. This resulted in a surge in clinical trials with consumers, finally validating the claims of the producers. The change is now irreversible and the shift is positive. Market accessibility was another factor to the industry’s growth, thanks to the government-run pharmacies stocking up nutraceuticals.

Another major catalyst of growth was the formation of the Nutraceutical Task Force, tasked with shaping policies to transform the Indian nutra industry into a $100 billion industry by 2030.

The biggest game changer was an increase in the overall number of Indians consuming basic nutraceuticals during the pandemic. The ‘nutraceutically-dormant’ Indian community had finally woken up, and so had the industry. According to the Nutraceutical Task Force, over 640 million Indians took to basic nutraceuticals during the pandemic.

To fuel the growth and modernisation of the nutra industry, five essential pillars of positive growth and change are also taking shape:

1. Medicinal plant farming: India is home to 52 agro-climatic zones. This advantage, coupled with an improved Biological Diversity Act, (the Biological Diversity (Amendment) Bill, 2021) with the aid of IT applications in consonance with blockchains, is driving the creation of a finger-printed, raw material supply chain.

2. Active nutra ingredients: India is geared up to tap into its rich active nutra ingredient potential by accessing over 1,700 medicinal plants from Ayurveda. This resource base alone has the potential to propel India into the $200-billion league.

3. Formulation ecosystem: India is home to a vast number of world-class GMP facilities. This is a spin off from India having the largest FDA-approved contract manufacturing facilities in the world, with additional high-end, nutra manufacturing facilities, usually audited by pharma companies. This spin-off effect means India has the potential to become a global contract manufacturing hub in nutraceuticals. Moreover, the pharma delivery technologies can also be applied here to churn bio-available, disruptive nutra formations.

4. The start-up ecosystem: India is home to 7,400 nutra start-ups backed by high-end incubation hubs such as CCMB, IITs and other institutions. Start-ups are leading to a technological revolution across the entire eco-system.

5. Academia: The Nutrify Today Academy is working closely with the Centurion University, to launch nutra industry-specific post-graduation courses, the first of a kind. More widely and importantly, universities are collaborating with the industry to develop industry-specific courses and programmes.

The survey

The thinking behind the survey conducted by Nutrify Today was to identify the gaps to be filled in order for India to realise its nutra potential as a $100 billion industry by 2030.

The four-month survey covered the Indian nutra industry and community, interviewing more than 2,000 executives, including senior and middle management professionals and owners of nutra firms and businesses. Other stakeholders, such as academia and investors, were also included in the group.

The survey revealed the supreme confidence the stakeholders had in India realising its $100 billion potential by 2030. In fact, 91.5 per cent of those surveyed were ‘absolutely sure’ that India Nutra Inc would reach its target by 2030. However, 48.2 per cent made it clear that a major gap that needs to be addressed is the lack of a dedicated nutra department in the government, which, they felt, should be immediately addressed for the growth potential to be achieved. Dr Vivek Srivastava, Senior Vice-President, Innovation, Business Strategy and Scientific Affairs,
Zeon Life Sciences, stated, “As a nutraceutical industry, we strive to offer the best product to manage health conditions. However, it is imperative to come out with policies, which are more relevant to trigger innovation and we look forward to paramount support from the government in this direction.”

Confusion around regulatory issues and the absent Harmonised System of Nomenclature (HSN) duties were a major cause of concern. Of those surveyed, 40.1 per cent raised concerns over the evolution of regulatory policy, partly because the industry is not so involved in shaping the rules, which have been evolving at a rapid pace. This calls for greater consultation and engagement with the industry. As for the missing HSN codes, the industry stakeholders felt that this was hindering the applicable duties.

One of the major surprises that emerged was the lessened demand for the Performance-Linked Incentives (PLIs) offered by the government. This could indicate that India Nutra Inc is confident that it is developing organically and relying on the abundantly available natural resources. The Biological Diversity Act, 2002 proves to be problemati