India finds its root of medicinal science in Ayurveda, Charak Samhita, some of the Vedas and Puranas. Its history is far older than the curative medical science. Yet, it is considered to be an alternative medicine and does not receive enough attention, both from consumers as well as the regulators and policymakers. The Covid-19 world has proven the significance of preventive measures, thus the conversations of natural nutrients has taken the centre stage across the globe. India, having an inherent advantage in the space, is poised to benefit. Whether it is for improving overall healthcare quotient or for the business opportunities, it is important for India to ensure that the “alternative” medicine becomes “mainstream”.
Research suggests that, globally, the demand for nutra products has increased significantly. The USA consumption is driven by growing health awareness, European demand is influenced by innovation and research and Asian
preference is due to the trust in conventional medicines. So how can India efficiently capture growing acceptance of these products and establish prowess?
Three-pronged approach is the way to go:
Redefine the system – Nutra is really no more an alternative. As per the Nutrition Business Journal 2020, the sales of immunity supplements are projected to spike over 25% in 2020, up from 8.5% growth last year. Not just this, consumers are increasing their consumption of these supplement products, and new consumers who never took dietary supplements before, 20% plan to start. With these numbers and an expectation of the same trend having a halo effect in other nutritional and health products too, it is time regulators give the industry its due recognition.
In India we need a separate regulatory body, independent HSN code structure, specific financial packages and tax breaks for manufacturing, research and clinical studies are some of the immediate steps required from the regulators to give the industry the required boost and allow it to contribute substantially for the public healthcare.
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Develop a model of integrated, end-to-end supply chain capability – If we just go by the research numbers quoted above, to meet the demand, the supply chains will have to be strengthened. And for that, entrepreneurs will have to take the drivers’ seat. Existing players will have to expand via backward or forward integration, outsourcing of manufacturing will be another trend to watch out for, and increasing the raw material output by expanding the crop growing region as well as improving the per acre output will be critical.
Availability of labour, agricultural land, a strong foundation of farming culture, and a business mindset make India inherently capable of establishing itself as the world leader and take advantage of the shift in market trends in favor of the nutraceutical industry. Talent and technology, both will have to congregate; business houses and regulators will have to chart out a plan with a common agenda. India needs to get innovative.
Encourage research and grants – After all these, let’s go back to where we started from. If we want to be “Vocal for local” and “atmanirbhar“, we will have to believe and promote our own heritage. Digging into Ayurveda and understanding the preventive remedies for various health conditions, investing in R&D to grow high-quality natural resources within India, registering more and more patents in the name of Indians, importing species from all over the world and grow them in India, investing in talent and education encouraging them to stay put in home country – these should be part of our broader agenda for both the govt and the entrepreneurs.
As per the United Nations (UN), malnutrition is the topmost issue the world is dealing with for the last 5 years along with climatic changes. And if it is so, isn’t it a high time we reposition the Nutraceutical industry as mainstream and not be merely an alternative?
By Sanjaya Mariwala
The author is the Executive Chairman and Managing Director at OmniActive Health Technologies.
(DISCLAIMER: The views expressed are solely of the author and TheHealthMaster.com does not necessarily subscribe to it. TheHealthMaster.com shall not be responsible for any damage caused to any person / organisation directly or indirectly.)