This Mumbai-based nutraceutical and supplements brand is promoting healthy living
When Pranay Jain set out on the path to healthy living, little did he know that the journey would reward him in ways he couldn’t have imagined. During his college days at the Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS), he found himself consuming chocolates, processed food, and an incessant amount of sugar. From having an average weight, he went on to weigh 96 kgs in the second year.
In 2013, Pranay decided to take charge of his life and start on a fitness journey. He also joined his father’s business, Gangwal Group, in 2015 to handle international operations. Since the Group was already operating in the healthcare and pharmaceutical spaces since 1987, he decided to launch the nutraceutical and supplements vertical in 2017.
Formerly called Body&U, BodyFirst was started with an aim to make “India nutritionally responsible while providing authentic, genuine, clinically researched products to the Indians,” Pranay tells SMBStory.
The Mumbai-based brand offers a host of products such as plant protein, KSM66 Ashwagandha, vegan Flaxseed Oil, Fenugreek fibre, Astaxanthin, probiotics, whey protein, My Crunch protein bar, and more. Today, BodyFirst is present in 45 cities – through offline and online channels.
Taking off the ground
was started in 2017 with an investment of Rs 50 lakh from the parent company. Pranay backed the entry into the market with a lot of research that pointed towards the growth potential of the nutraceutical and supplements segment.
“Only 75 lakh out of 140 crore people were consuming health supplements, according to our research. It was a big revelation!” he says.
He says that as the Group had a background in this business, it helped the offshoot source suitable ingredients, manufacturing capabilities, etc needed to get started. Pranay adds that apart from packaging, everything is managed in-house.
He says that the initial research and development of the product were done “by his own hands.” From flavouring to getting a sense of what was working and what wasn’t, the first 1,000 batches of the products gave him an idea of the market.
There were some hits and misses as well along the way. While its Ashwagandha tablets found quick takers, the plant-based protein meat failed to make a mark because India is an inherently taste-sensitive country.
“If we talk about the American markets, they are fine with the product being eight on ten in taste if it is 10 on 10 when it comes to health benefits. That is not the case with India,” he explains.
Today, Pranay says that his team is still in the process of cracking the code in the plant-based meat section. However, one category in which they have cracked both health and taste is protein bars, which are present in flavours such as Choco Vanilla, Dark Choco Coffee, Double Chocolate, and more.
Decoding the USP
According to BodyFirst’s website, its bestsellers include Astareal Astaxanthin, KSM-66 Ashwagandha, Vegan Omega 3, Peanut Butter, and more. “The difference between our ashwagandha and that of any other brand is that our 500mg tablet extracted using milk. Additionally, the amount of withanolides our one ashwagandha tablet contains is equivalent to four or five capsules of any other brand,” Pranay says.
Similarly, Astaxanthin is extracted from Haematococcus Pluvialis, which is a very powerful anti-oxidant. While Pranay doesn’t reveal much about the ingredients to protect the IP, he adds that the products are certified by key bodies such as NFS International, Informed Sports, and more.
Moreover, the products of BodyFirst have also found takers in the sports community. It is the official partner of the Pro Kabaddi team, Tamil Thalaivas, for supplying supplements, and a few more athletes. “The reason why we have been able to do this is that our products are completely certified,” he adds.
The average selling price of the products is Rs 2,000. Pranay says they also have more than 150 nutrition experts on board. While he doesn’t divulge the revenue numbers, he adds they aim to touch Rs 35 crore in sales in FY23. He also claims that while COVID-19 impacted their business significantly, the revenues of the company have grown by 360 percent between October 2021 and February 2022.
The way ahead
The coronavirus pandemic has led to a large number of people focusing on their health. This has opened the doors for several opportunities for pharmaceutical and nutraceutical companies. According to the International Trade Administration, India’s nutraceutical industry is expected to hold at least 3.5 percent of the global market share by 2023 and is expected to grow to $18 billion by the end of 2025.
Today, 85 percent of BodyFirst’s customers come from the offline channel via general trade and modern trade, and the rest from online channels such as its website and marketplaces like Amazon, Netmeds, and more. Going forward, Pranay says the company wants to adopt an omnichannel strategy and focus on its online presence.
BodyFirst is on a mission to be a complete health solutions brand. While it already has sizable penetration in categories such as immunity, health management, weight management, protein, cholesterol control with 55 SKUs, it plans to penetrate deeper into the skincare, children’s health categories. “The aim is to reach more than 100 formulations by FY23,” Pranay sings off.