Why the nutraceutical industry is important amid the coronavirus pandemic
While the world was battling with various geopolitical, economic and religious issues, a virus rapidly crept in and helped us realise what really matters. Health indeed is the only wealth we have.
As many people are infected with the novel coronavirus or COVID-19 and the number increases at an alarming rate, the path to building immunity is crucial to fighting the virus.
And is it no secret that the role of nutrients in supporting the immune system is extremely important. However, this isn’t easing commercial woes for the nutraceutical industry.
A lowdown on the lockdown
Major organisations across the world are facing a financial crunch, and it is not surprising that the nutraceutical industry has an arduous journey ahead. Not only are various expos and international meets getting postponed (with a bleak chance of resuming), export and trade relations between countries are on a complete halt, and maybe even strained, posing a threat to the manufacturing process.
On the other hand, government restrictions have not made it easy on the customer front.
However, the consumption of potential nutrients and micronutrients like vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B6 and B 12, folate, zinc, iron, copper, selenium, etc. for immunity defense is pivotal. It is imperative for the government to allow dietary supplements and natural product retailers to remain operational as essential businesses. Dietary industry associations in the US are also urging their government to do the same.
In times like these, having the nutraceutical industries operate is vital. It will get challenging for the government to fulfill the basic nutritional needs of our population of 1.2 billion with minimum labour in such difficult times.
Additionally, food-based nutrition may take a dip, as prices may hike due to the scarcity, making it challenging for people falling under low economic strata to sustain their needs. This poses another challenge of being vulnerable to the virus and its spread. Thus, the FSSAI must suggest that nutraceutical supplements can offer vital nutritional benefits to keep the immune system at its optimal. Additionally, for urban consumers, the easy storage will help sustain the healthy habit.
Situational needs of nutraceutical brands
COVID-19 is presenting an almost never-seen-before situation that will compel nutraceutical companies to evaluate their supply chains and adapt to new systems faster than ever before. Most companies are running from pillar to post to put together a business continuity plan to ensure customers remain unaffected or, at least, minimally affected.
Given the current market scenario, emerging nutraceutical brands targeting the preventive healthcare segment must thoroughly understand and ascertain the degree of work required to establish consumer trust with regards to the efficacy promise of the brand.
There is also a real threat of an unforeseeable crisis that could disrupt a very interdependent and convoluted supply chain.
On the other hand, it is important for dietary supplement brands to not overreact in this situation. In all likelihood (and we hope), that this change and a shift in the policies, consumption, and manufacturing may be temporary.
While it may impact our business and commercials significantly, it might also fuel the need for supplements for the end consumer. A key shift in the markets would be that India could be the next big source of raw materials and finished goods, as Chinese trade experiences a slump.
Nutraceutical brands need to continue doing their best to create awareness among the people about the ongoing situation. Most consumers are seeking information through social media. Hence, it becomes important to educate customers digitally, to ensure this message reaches out in a wider magnitude.
There is already a lot of panic due to all the fake news available on the internet, given the disproportionate amount of information asymmetry that exists. It is crucial that nutraceutical companies, and healthcare service and product providers come together to spread knowledge and not fear.
Edited by Teja Lele Desai
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)