What are the key drivers of growth in India’s nutraceuticals industry?

With a rapid surge in the demand for dietary supplements and a paradigmatic shift in consumer choices from pharmaceuticals by the upper and middle class, the nutraceuticals industry is witnessing a rapid growth globally.

What are the key drivers of growth in India’s nutraceuticals industry?

Thursday February 13, 2020,

7 min Read

The massive popularity of nutraceuticals is auguring a promising future of nutraceuticals on the global landscape. According to Market Study Report, LLC, the nutraceuticals market in the US is likely to account for $138,047 million by the year 2027 from $73,986 million as of 2018. The nutraceuticals industry in India is also creating ripples and reflecting a tremendous year-on-year growth.

India has been emerging as a potential geography for the nutraceuticals industry to grow. The country’s nutraceutical industry is already making waves in the APAC nutra industry after Japan and China. A study conducted jointly by Assocham and RNCOS reveals that the nutraceuticals market in India is poised to grow to $8.5 billion by 2022 from $8.5 billion in 2015. The same study also states that India’s nutraceutical market, which currently represents approximately two percent of the global market, is expected to account for about three percent of the global market share by 2022.


What are nutraceuticals?

Nutraceuticals are composed of nutritious ingredients such as vitamins, minerals, proteins, fibres, probiotics, amino acids, etc. that assist in preventing physical ailments, help in combating hereditary nutritional diseases, allergies, etc. The industry has seen innovation in the form of delicious chewables, gummies, and lozenges, as a popular alternative to traditional pills for the immense health benefits they offer, their shelf life, and water retention abilities vis-a-vis herb-based supplements.

Nutraceutical gummies, which were once considered a health supplement for kids, is now making significant inroads into the adult VMS (Vitamin, Minerals, and Supplement) category. Considering the ever-increasing burden of chronic diseases, millennial consumers presently prefer nutraceuticals over prescription drugs for combating different physical and hormonal disorders such as baldness, hair loss, thyroid, nail disorders, diabetes, arthritis, etc. 

There are many factors leading to the growth of nutraceutical market in US, Europe, and APAC region ranging from changing consumer choices, the psychological intimidation of eating medicines, to harmful side effects of the same.

Enlisted are some of the key factors driving this trend.

Factors bolstering the growth of India’s nutraceuticals market:

  • Busy lifestyle: People with hectic lifestyles often fail to adhere to a balanced meal plan; therefore, they prefer consuming nutraceuticals for meeting their nutritional needs. Nutraceutical products are easy to carry and can be popped into school backpacks, purses, briefcases, as well as clothing pockets, and can be consumed on the go; thus, they perfectly cater to the demands of busy millennials.

  • Rising patient awareness: Patients nowadays are becoming more aware of the chemicals present in medication, which cause unwanted side-effects. They have realised the importance of right nutrition and are aware that it's better to handle things by giving right nutrition to body, this is yet another reason why nutraceuticals are gaining the upper hand in the market. Nutraceutical products are usually plant-based, and therefore vegetarian. No artificial colours, flavours, gluten, and preservatives are allowed in high quality nutraceuticals products.

  • Body image concerns: Concerns over body image =is no longer a Western concept as it has been equally affecting Indian men and women. Indian millennials and Gen Z are becoming more concerned about their weight, diet, and overall appearance. Such a consumer base is increasingly turning to nutraceuticals for losing weight, or to make their hair grow better, or to get glowing skin. A case in point is patients experiencing baldness and hair loss problems often seek long-term medical treatments, a lot of patients are compelled to discontinue the treatment in between owing to the side effects and prohibitive costs of medicine. Considering the side-effects of prescription drugs, and the failure of modern treatments in delivering safe results, consumers nowadays are shifting to nutraceuticals for fighting hair loss problems. Moreover, since nutraceutical products offer a complete combination of amino acids, vitamins, and minerals that are essential for hair growth, they offer better effects than taking multiple pills individually.

  • A fun way for kids to receive essential nutrients: Toddlers are generally hesitant to eat nutritious food, which often leads to deficiency disorders. Thus, parents are resorting to easily chewable nutraceutical products available in different shapes and flavours such as gummies. Since nutraceutical products these days are shaped like bears, fruits, flowers, etc., and come in different delectable flavours, they offer a fun, flavourful, and convenient way of meeting your child’s health needs.

  • Pill fatigue: If you are an adult and scared of swallowing large medicinal pills multiple times a day, you can count on nutraceutical products such as organic foods and gummies as they are super easy to consume. Nutraceuticals gummies are fast catching up as an option and considered the best alternative for people having difficulty swallowing pills, as well as for patients suffering from pill fatigue.

  • The intervention of AI technology: Last but not the least, artificial intelligence (AI) has become a transformative force in India’s nutraceutical sector. It has been playing a key role in identifying the required components for targeting particular health disorders so that nutraceutical product manufacturers can personalise the products as per the individual characteristics of each patient through a subscription-based model.

Challenges and solutions

The regulatory framework for nutraceutical products varies widely throughout the globe. To address this issue, India’s top food regulator FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) has already taken the initiative of reinforcing the regulatory framework via cross-border collaboration and by adhering to the best practices and international standards. Additionally, the FSSAI stresses on the formulation of nutraceutical products based on validated scientific data, and under the guidelines set by ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research).

  • Moreover, fake nutraceutical products are flooding the Indian market and making it impossible for consumers to differentiate between the real and fake. Counterfeit nutraceutical products laden with toxic chemicals and substandard ingredients are not only proving catastrophic for the industry but also ruining the reputation of popular nutraceuticals brands. Therefore, nutraceutical manufacturers must gear up to minimise the risk of nutraceutical counterfeiting. Deploying an anti-counterfeit solution will go a long way towards solving the problem. At the same time the manufacturers and the government bodies should work hand in hand to enlighten consumers about the risks of consuming counterfeit dietary supplements.

The key element that has optimised the industry’s efforts is modern marketing techniques - where online advertising platforms allow brands to display a gamut of products to a highly targeted audience.

Marching towards a brighter future

Nutraceuticals are becoming an essential part of life for India’s urban population. Considering Indian consumers’ increased inclination towards health, nutrition, and wellness, several reputable and certified players from the USA, Europe, and Japan are entering India to tap the potential of the country’s Nutraceuticals market and make their products easily available to the health-conscious masses. At the same time, Indian players are also exploring avenues for exporting their nutraceutical products to the US and the Middle East.

Considering the current scenario, we can conclude that India’s nutraceuticals industry is all set to grow at a lightning speed, and it wouldn't be surprising if it outstrips the global pharmaceutical industry sooner or later. However, the future of the nutraceuticals industry entirely rests on the stringent execution of standardised rules and regulations, which will help overcome the challenges and enable nutraceuticals to play a mainstream role in promoting a healthy lifestyle.

(Edited by Evelyn Ratnakumar)

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)