India Now - page 40

have been fast creating a dedicated space
in the Indian consumers’ food basket
with the buzz around them growing as
consumers learn to derive the combined
benefits of nutrition plus pharmaceuti-
cals from this single food source. Nutra-
ceuticals offer medical or health benefits
combining healing and disease preven-
tion properties to consumers.
The Indian market for health supple-
ments began evolving in the last few
years, as medicinal plants with nutra-
ceutical properties were identified.
Besides, growing awareness regarding
health and the rising incidence of critical
lifestyle diseases forced people to take a
fresh look at their food habits. “This is
expected to boost the demand for nutra-
ceutical products in India over the com-
ing years,” says Chechi. There is also a
rising interest in alternative medicines
among consumers, which has provided
a platform for global nutraceutical prod-
uct manufacturers to establish their
presence in India. The slow growth of
the market till now is primarily because
of the low levels of awareness and
limited market penetration. However,
the market will expand fast in the com-
ing years due to multiple factors like
increase in healthcare costs, ageing
population, rising levels of disposable
income, etc. Another factor behind the
slow uptake of dietary supplements in
India is the fact that even six to seven
years back, nutraceutical products were
not found necessary for supplementing
Indian meals. The reason, as per the
Euromonitor report, was because the
Indian diet consists of all the important
food groups.
Middle Class Opportunity
The nearly 400 million strong middle
class population in the country makes
an attractive market segment for indus-
try players. The Indian middle class
is also aspirational with rising dispos-
able incomes, affluence and aware-
ness. Consumers in urban centres are
actively adopting healthy lifestyles and
incorporating nutraceuticals and dietary
supplements in their foods as a preven-
tive measure to counter the prohibitive
costs of healthcare. Physicians too are
prescribing health food along with
medicines in order to improve general
well being, as they become aware and
convinced about the role that nutrition
plays in health. The emergence of newer
distribution channels like direct selling
and e-commerce with dedicated portals
for wellness products is further pushing
consumption with increasing penetra-
tion of mobile and internet in India.
While there is less time to either cook
or eat proper meals in fast paced urban
cities, at the same time there is a social
pressure to look good and be healthy. A
recent TechSci research found that the
ready-to-cook (RTC) food products mar-
ket in India is estimated to have touched
US$ 120 million in 2013 and is projected
to grow at a CAGR of around 22 per cent
from 2014 to 2019. In such a scenario,
nutraceuticals, vitamins and dietary
supplements are considered the quick
fix solutions to stay healthy.
Shushmul Maheswari, CEO, RNCOS,
also attributes the growing health sup-
plements market to ageing population
and changing lifestyles, and adds, “The
demand for protein supplements is spe-
cifically seeing a spike among the urban
youth as young urban India exhibits the
desire to maintain fitness and build a
strong physique.”
Considered complementary to
drugs, nutraceuticals are said to reduce
over-dependence on medicines. India,
with its rich biodiversity and tradi-
tional knowledge has all the requisites to
emerge as the world leader in nutraceu-
ticals. Though functional foods currently
lead the share in the market, there is a
mega opportunity in the dietary supple-
ments category, especially herbals, as
the market matures. Oats, probiotics,
nuts, tomato products, yogurt, sports
and energy drinks, etc., fall in the func-
tional foods category while vitamins,
minerals, fibres and fatty acids in the
form of tablets and capsules, are a part
of dietary supplements. The functional
foods segment captures the lion’s share
in the overall market, while the other
two segments hold a lower market share
due to relatively lower consumer con-
fidence in such products. Maheshwari
attributes the upswing in the demand
for functional foods and beverages to the
development of “innovative products” in
this segment.
The consumer base in India can be
“Companies need to
work on developing
customised products
at affordable pricing.”
Karan Chechi
Research Director, TechSci Research
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