Nutraceutical Industry: The Path To A Healthier Tomorrow?

In India, the healthcare sector has evolved considerably over the years, and with an increasing emphasis on nutrition, nutraceuticals have emerged as the way forward. The term nutraceuticals refer to fortified products, and the term has been coined from their components of nutritional and pharmaceutical elements. Nutraceuticals can be best described as food or a part of food which plays a key role in maintaining a healthy physiological function of a human being. These foods include fibre, polyunsaturated fatty acids, antioxidants, prebiotics, probiotics, and other natural and herbal items. Steadily, they are growing in popularity as a means to improve one’s wellbeing, and as a result, prevent the contraction of diseases.

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Through the consumption of these nutraceutical products, one can work on improving their body’s reactions towards several conditions. These include allergies, Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular, cancer, diabetes, eye health, immune health, inflammatory and Parkinson's diseases as well as obesity. Nutraceuticals have also garnered popularity owing to the vast amount of information available about their advantages. The modern Indian is well connected to the digital world and has been able to access knowledge from every part of the world within seconds. They know what they want and are willing to go the extra mile to achieve their health goals. As such, with healthy living being their new goal, the Indian consumer is ready to accept emerging new concepts such as nutraceuticals for the sake of living a better life. 

However, people believe that they get all the nutrients they need from diet alone. Unfortunately, we do not obtain enough at the right levels of essential nutrients from food.  For example, vegetarians would be deficient in vitamin B12 (essential for energy release) as this is abundant in animal products, many anti-oxidants such as Co Q10 which are essential for heart health, cannot be easily obtained from food.  Additionally, foods today do not contain the same amount of nutrients as they used to do many years ago due to adulteration and devaluation, which makes the inclusion of supplements in the diet vital.  

With regards to nutraceuticals, India is an emerging and promising market, considering it is almost three times the size of that of the United Kingdom. According to studies conducted by ASSOCHAM and the Indian Nutraceutical Industries, India is well on its way to becoming a big market for these products. Their projections have predicted that the market will grow to USD10 billion by the year 2022, with the functional food and beverage market pegged at an estimate of USD1.5 billion.  As a result, there is massive scope for the nutraceutical industry in the country, and this has aided the growth of small pharmaceutical companies in the segment across India. 

However, the industry is still at a very nascent stage and is largely dependent on replicating foreign products, making their business model less sustainable. Hence there is a growing need for organised players to emerge in India, with a complete technical and practical know-how, optimised formulations, and an efficient business model in place. 

This segment is a huge opportunity for pharmaceutical companies to expand their horizons. Inclusion of nutraceuticals in their portfolio can open the doors to new markets and put them in the running for capturing diverse segments. There is a major part of the nation’s population that is open to making lifestyle changes to live a healthier life. Incorporation of nutraceuticals will help modify the way pharmaceutical companies function while spreading educational information on becoming more physically fit and increasing mental strength. 

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