Healthier lifestyles helping nutraceutical industry grow faster in India
An increasingly larger number of people are realizing the side-effects of pharmaceutical products. This has given rise to a new industry, aptly called nutraceuticals. People around the world are now trying to eat more and more food products that help to improve immunity. However, the nutrients that remain deficient in the diet are obtained from nutraceuticals. Many FMCG companies are betting big on this fast-growing segment. Speaking to Ritwik Mukherjee of Bizz Buzz, Rohit Dubepatil, Managing Director, Sengee Biochem Exim Pvt Ltd, who has done extensive research on nutraceuticals, shares his thoughts on various opportunities in nutraceuticals space in India
Herbal and medicinal supplements in India have a legacy. Thus, nutraceuticals as an industry has been in existence since the time of its mythology and folk fore. The ancient Indian doctors known as 'Vaidya', 'Hakim' had a great reliance on nutraceuticals for ailments
There is a rise in the number of nutritionists and dieticians across the country, giving a rise to prescriptions-based nutraceuticals sales. Nutritionists hold monthly product reviews where they attract around 1000-10000 consumers to educate them about new products and their benefits
How big is the overall nutraceutricals market in India?
The simplest of definition of nutraceutical products is that it is a food marketed as having specific health promoting benefits (EBSCO CAM Review Board, 2019). The Indian nutraceuticals industry is poised to grow to $8.5 billion by 2022. The industry is also flourishing with recent study conducted by the World Bank claiming that India loses nearly $12 billion annually to malnourishment (World Bank). This report tries to investigate the various opportunities in the nutraceutical industry of India, with a special focus for foreign companies planning to launch in India.
What is classified as nutraceutical?
Herbal and medicinal supplements in India have a legacy. Thus, nutraceuticals as an industry has been in existence since the time of its mythology and folk fore. The ancient Indian doctors known as 'Vaidya', 'Hakim' had a great reliance on nutraceuticals for ailments. With the rise in upper and middle-class category, the demand for nutraceuticals, and the various additions to the industry are increasing every single day. The industry can be classified into functional foods, dietary supplements and beverages. There are a lot of domestic companies such as Himalaya, Dabur, Emami and Patanjali who have established their presence in the remotest corners of the country. Foreign companies are also establishing their presence in India with the recent rise in e-commerce channels and establishment of premium offline retail stores across the top tier cities in the country.
Since this is an industry at its nascence, who regulates this industry in India? Is there a regulator at all? How can an international player foray into this market in India?
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is the main governing body for all food related trade in the country. Any product that is imported into the country requires the FSSAI approval before it is cleared by the customs officers at ports. Only local companies are able to make product registrations with FSSAI, and thus, it is mandatory for foreign brands entering India to either form a partnership with a local company or create their own company in India. Certain products may also be required to be registered with the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO), depending on their end use.
Although there are a few products being sold without these registrations, those brands are unregistered and often brought into the country in luggage bags or grey markets; definitely not a strategy that a serious foreign company would adopt for launching into India!
But global players keen on making inroads into this area in India would also like to know about the duty structure, etc...
Yes, you are absolutely right. Normally, import duties on nutraceuticals would range anywhere between 10 per cent to 150 per cent + GST, depending on the category of the product. Many international market managers have a misconception that India's import duties vary depending on the country the products are being imported from. The import duties remain constant, irrespective of the country of origin of the product. Also, another doubt that may arise with the various Free Trade Agreements (FTA) in place, it is worth noting that usually FTAs do not account for super foods.
Which are the sales channels, that such nutraceuticals companies should look at?
With the increase in the disposable income of the upper class and middle-class population, there has been an influx of sales channels available to sell products directly to consumers. Consumers have now really become the 'King' in a sense where everything is now accessible with the click of a button. The last decade has seen an increase in the number of online stores operating in the food industry. Although Amazon and Flipkart (homegrown rival to Amazon, now acquired by Walmart) are the biggest players in the space offering products from all categories, there is an emergence of specialty online channels such as Grofers, BigBasket, Netmeds, 1mg, etc. Majority of these companies service almost all the pin codes of the country, allowing you to access the entire country with a single channel partner. But, it is important to note, that they will not import or stock the products with themselves. They expect the company to appoint a distributor/stockist who will fulfil orders as and when they come through. Some companies do have a warehouse or a distribution centre of their own, but it comes with its own costs.
Foodhall and Nature's Basket are considered to be the most premium food stores in the country and are known to stock exquisite products imported from around the globe. However, combined, both of them have a presence of only 30 stores, which is again heavily focussed only in tier 1 cities. There are other offline stores such as Health and Glow, Nykaa which are focussed towards beauty industry, and Wellness Forever focussed towards wellness products. But again, they are limited to specific geographies. The premiumness of the stores attracts hefty listing fees, while not guaranteeing a hotspot shelf space. However, there are a lot of standalone stores across the country, which have a good footprint and stock premium products imported from all over the world. Having an on-the-ground sales team helps in conducting all the marketing and branding activities such as sampling which would have been otherwise difficult to do online. There are quite a few MLM companies as well promoting number of nutraceuticals.
There are a few other channels which service sporting organisations, military, wellness clubs, marathons, corporate offices etc. However, getting inroads into them is a challenge as majority of the deals are concluded based on relationships.
Could you throw some lights on the current marketing trends in this field?
With majority of the nutraceutical's products being targeted to overall wellness and sporting enthusiasts, marketing strategies play a key role in reaching the right set of target audience. Modern consumers are connecting quite well with the overall wellbeing campaigns and everybody is inclined towards leading healthier lifestyles. Influencer marketing is still considered to be one of the best ways to reach consumers. Many celebrities are now taking up ownership in particular brands rather than just endorsing them. This helps consumers to better connect with the brands and also instils a sense of confidence about the authenticity and genuineness of the products, in the minds of the consumers.
There is a rise in the number of nutritionists and dieticians across the country, giving a rise to prescriptions-based nutraceuticals sales. Nutritionists hold monthly product reviews where they attract around 1000-10000 consumers to educate them about new products and their benefits.
A big advantage that imported products bring over local products is the perceived value of better ingredients and formulation. Indian consumers feel that the western products are much more advanced than local varieties. Also the possibility of adulteration is higher in the local industry compared to products that are completely made and packed in foreign land.