What was the objective behind setting up AHNMI? What role does the association play in the nutraceutical industry?
Preventive care is gaining importance like never before, all thanks to the pandemic. People have realized that once the damage is done, there is no reversal. Further, the virtual world is extremely global, and the availability of information is at a click. This has resulted in better awareness at least in Tier-I and Tier-II cities. All these have resulted in a growing demand for nature-based remedies including nutraceutical products making an opportune business case for India. With an increasing focus on encouraging manufacturing in India through drives like “Make in India” and “Atmanirbhar Bharat”, it is one of the most promising times to expand the sector’s offering with more value-added products. However, this is possible only when the manufacturers are ready to invest and expand.
Intending to bring more connectedness and collaborated efforts, we decided to form a manufacturers’ association and thus The Association of Herbal and Nutraceuticals Manufacturers of India (AHNMI) was created. AHNMI aims to discuss the issues with the regulators and bring solutions to grow the sector in scale and size. The underlying objective is to provide a common platform to all stakeholders and voice their concerns before the relevant authorities. The Indian nutraceutical industry is still at a nascent stage. To let India tap the potential the sector offers, we need to work together. The AHNMI is making all the efforts to work with the authorities to bring structured regulations, definitions for the products, HSN Codes, and most importantly, give the industry its due recognition. Our purpose is to provide a common platform to pursue and steer various matters of interest for our member organisations and voice their concerns related to the aspects that pose challenges to the growth and development of this sector.
Being the President of the Association of Herbal and Nutraceutical Manufacturers of India, what are your expectations from the government?
While we need to do a lot of work to ensure India leads the world in the nutraceutical space, we should focus on 3 important things to ensure increased investment in the sector and expansion of the value-added product portfolio.
- Define and have independent HSN codes for the Nutra products, lay down standardized rules and practices that are in line with international standards to ensure ease in exports, and most importantly, have a dedicated ministry or at least a desk under the Ministry of Commerce for the nutraceutical sector. This will bring speed in the execution of various matters that are critical to the growth of the industry.
- PLI scheme should be extended to the nutraceutical sector. The manufacturing of nutraceutical products is a complex process and with various approvals involved, manufacturers are not well incentivized to expand their facilities and even opt for forward or backward integration. PLI scheme if carefully crafted with an integrated approach for the nutraceutical sector can significantly boost the agriculture sector too. Similarly, as compared to the pharma sector, Nutra products are taxed higher. We need to look at giving equal importance to the nutraceutical sector and bring more progressive taxations in line with the pharma products.
- We have to revisit some of the overlapping and discouraging laws like the Biodiversity Act. Some of the major overlaps are ABS Fee Liability on the Indian entities, exemptions provided under the BD Act, value-added products and their exclusion from the BD Act’s operation, and definition of the Non-Indian Entities under Section 3(2) of the Act. These inconsistent denotations discourage FDI or investment by the industry players and limits further growth. Simplification of the processes, a balance between conservation and research, and eliminating the overlapping clauses from the act are required on an immediate basis.What are the important measures that should be adopted by the regulators to boost the manufacturing of value-added Nutra products in India and to push the growth of the sector? How can industry players support in achieving the growth targets?
We need an integrated approach and connected efforts for the development of the sector. All that I mentioned already, should be put into action quickly. To make the nutraceuticals industry into a USD 25 billion industry for India from USD 4 billion today and leverage the huge export potential the industry offers, all the stakeholders must play an equal role. While the regulators would provide the ease and impetus, industry players should not wait for things to happen. Fear of technology, lack of willingness to involve themselves in agriculture and supply chains, and reluctance to invest in marketing new concepts are limiting the Industrial scale in this sector. Industry players should consider vertical or backward integration through contract farming. This will ensure control on the quality of raw materials, steady business, and higher-income prospects for the farmers too. Investment in clinical research will also play a crucial role as it will help India to have more products that are globally accepted and thus expand the export basket. How can the nutraceuticals industry benefit from vast agricultural resources and ancient Ayurveda remedies available in India?
Given its Ayurvedic wisdom, pharmaceuticals knowledge and favourable agriculture base, India enjoys a natural advantage in this sector. The Ayurveda market in India is expected to grow from around $4 billion in 2018 to over $9.5 billion by 2024, according to a Research and Markets report. People are looking at traditional medicines to not only boost their immunity but also as a shield against ailments. Increasing urbanization while added to lifestyle disorders, also aided awareness. Everything today is available at one click. The less known subject is getting explored more and more mainly because the sea of information is right there online. Amplification and acceptance of preventive healthcare due to the “google” era coupled with COVID-19, have resulted in more adoption of ancient and preventive care measures for health.
Business potential in the nutraceutical segment exists across the value chain for India. The economy that was once dominated by Agriculture along with a strong foundation in the form of Ayurveda, provides us a robust base to explore “Farms to Formulations” end-to-end. Very few countries in the world are endowed with such unique combinations. Strong agriculture base, availability of labour, the talent that can support extensive research and passionate entrepreneurs, blend of these factors can very well aid the double-digit growth for India.
- We must commit to chemical-free farming to preserve the natural properties of the produce. Bring modern tools and technology to sustainable farming models, water irrigation, and also to bring end-to-end traceability possible to gain better acceptance of the products manufactured in India.
- Set up technologically advanced manufacturing plants and create and nurture the agri-farm linked models.
- Invest in extensive research that can help validate the ancient remedies from Ayurveda, establish testing laboratories, and conformity assessments in line with International Standards.
- Develop process tools and systems across the value chain; bring in regulations that encourage exports, and have more patents and copyrights in the name of India.
- Learn the best practices from other countries like The Netherlands in flowers, Thailand in fruits, Malaysia in Palm oil, etc.