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A strong and independent voice of the nutraceutical industry in the country is still lacking

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Sushil Khaitan, CEO & Director at Purenutrition.in opines that given the size of the nutraceutical industry in India today, it is essential that it be treated as a separate segment and not as an add-on. He also explains that a rich heritage of herbal and Ayurveda forms the basis of India’s unique advantages along with a vast ingredient basket and the know-how to use it in creating a quality packed offering, in an interview with Lakshmipriya Nair

Tell us about the shifts and trends in nutraceuticals? What are their key drivers? How has the pandemic created unprecedented opportunities for this sector?

There has been a shift in consumer behaviour and an upswing in the acceptance and usage of nutraceutical products by Indians. A $4 billion industry in 2017, the nutraceuticals industry is on the path of becoming an $18 billion industry by 2025 clocking a growth at a CAGR of 21 per cent. Nutraceuticals are today being seen as a viable option for maintaining health. This shift can be attributed to the availability of ample supply of ingredients in India and the country’s ability to feed manufacturing in the global value chain. The pandemic has pushed the demand for the nutraceuticals largely in the space of wellness and boosting immunity. Among the opportunities, nutraceuticals are now being increasingly seen as a preventive way to maintain health and wellness.

Can you outline how nutraceuticals can be better utilised in the continuum of care? What are the gaps that need to be mitigated?

Nutraceuticals may be used to improve health, delay the ageing process, prevent chronic diseases, increase life expectancy, or support the structure or function of the body. In recent times, nutraceuticals have received considerable interest due to its potential nutritional, safety and therapeutic effects. Recent studies have also shown promising results for these compounds in various complications. There has been an emphasis to present herbal nutraceuticals effective on hard curative disorders related to oxidative stress, including allergy, Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular, cancer, diabetes, eye, immune, inflammatory and Parkinson’s diseases as well as obesity. Today, there is still a lack of advocacy in India. A strong and independent voice of the nutraceutical industry in the country is still lacking. On the ingredients front, finding premium quality raw material is still a challenge that we face along with a scattered market. These roughly make up for the gaps that need attention.

Tell us about the role that technology is playing in this segment to accelerate productivity and improve quality?

Technology is and will continue to play an important role in the nutraceutical industry. Companies are backing technology to achieve desired results, in improving productivity and focussing on improving quality, through technology backed R&D and also to create personalised healthcare.

How is India poised to strengthen and increase its foothold in the global nutraceutical market? What are the unique advantages that India has in this sphere? What are the challenges hampering its growth?

India has the competitive advantages that will help it make the necessary strides on the global nutraceutical stage. The number of players is growing and it is only a matter of time that one will see us as a reckoning force in the global scene. A rich heritage of herbal and Ayurveda forms the basis of our unique advantages along with a vast ingredient basket and the know-how to use it in creating a quality packed offering. Challenges include a need for stronger enforcement norms, issues of registration process etc. that limit participation from the likes of indigenous manufacturers.

What are the biggest lessons that India’s nutraceutical players can learn from its pharma sector?

Advance delivery of the end nutraceutical product – in the form of a pill, designing a delayed release of properties, efficacy and Best Manufacturing Processes are some of the learnings that the nutraceutical sector has learnt from the pharma industry.

What will be the imperatives for both, stakeholders and the regulators, to optimise the growth potential in this sphere?

Given the size of the nutraceutical industry in India today, it is essential that it be treated as a separate segment and not as an add-on. This, along with effective regulatory framework, that starts with a simple registration process will drive India’s nutraceutical story.

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