Nutraceutical industry seeks policy and regulatory charges to achieve potential

With demand for natural immunity-boosting products growing during the pandemic, the nutraceuticals industry has called for policy and regulatory changes to spur sales to $25-$30 billion in 10 years from about $3 billion currently.

“The recent consumer preference trends show an increasing focus on nutritious food and food safety globally. This shift offers a variety of opportunities to the Indian nutraceutical industry, which can lead this business globally due to our natural advantages,” Sanjaya Mariwala, executive CMD, OmniActive Health Technologies, and founder-president of the Association of Herbal and Nutraceuticals Manufacturers of India said.

“This industry has potential to grow to the size of $25-30 billion in ten years but we need a lot of regulatory push to create a cohesive ecosystem for the industry players across the value chain. There is a strong need to re-look at the existing policies,” Mr. Mariwala said in an interview.

He said while the government has been encouraging farmers to grow medicinal herbs and plants in through the farm bills, laws like Biodiversity Act 2002 were discouraging industry players from setting up manufacturing capacities and entering into contract farming arrangements.

“Therefore, we need a separate regulatory body, independent HSN [Harmonized System of Nomenclature] code structure, specific financial packages and tax breaks for manufacturing, research and clinical studies to give the industry a significant boost and allow it to contribute substantially for the public healthcare,” Mr. Mariwala said.

He said the nutraceuticals sector currently falls within the ambit of the FSSAI, an authority under the Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MOFPI). However, with limited attention being accorded, the sector’s full export potential cannot be achieved.

“The governing ecosystem for nutraceuticals needs a serious rethink along with clarity on defining the scope of the sector and its product portfolio. The need of the hour is the creation of a comprehensive HSN repository, with prompt resolution of grievances and export promotion initiatives by a centralised regulatory body, to give teeth to the sector,” he said.

 “It might be prudent to transfer the administration of our sector to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, with robust capabilities in running export promoting councils, to further the sector’s growth prospects,” he added.

Also a PPP model could be explored to drive higher domestic penetration of nutraceutical products and enhance nutrition levels amongst the undernourished segments of the population, he said.

“To enable an effective ecosystem for nutraceuticals, centralisation of control, preferably under the Joint Secretary at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, with better-coordinated decision making and institutionalisation of roles and responsibilities would go a long way in preparing a viable road map,” Mr. Mariwala said.

The Hindu