By Dheeraj Talreja, AAK Group, President – India
The global nutraceuticals market is a burgeoning one and it is valued to reach a whopping USD 722.49 billion by 2027 expanding at a CAGR of 8.3%. The market’s growth can be attributed to a number of health trends and changes in attitudes towards food in the past decade. Consumers today are increasingly aware of the food they eat, the ingredients in it, and the impact it has on their health. The International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation’s 2018 Food and Health Survey noted that 7 in 10 shoppers in the U.S. would be willing to give up a familiar favourite product for one that did not contain artificial ingredients. This shows that consumers today are looking for foods that have an increasingly positive effect on their health and wellbeing, and are willing to pay for it too. All of these trends combined together are fuelling interest in nutraceutical products like vitamin and health supplements.
Along with these generic socio-cultural shifts, there is also the rise of food fortification that is driving up interest in the nutraceuticals market. Fortified foods essentially possess medicinal properties that provide healing benefits, added energy, and essential nutrients. The best examples of fortified foods include milk with vitamin D, probiotic yogurts, sports drinks etc. Such foods were already gaining popularity before the pandemic, and now with increased focus on the connection between immunity and Covid-19, fortified food products are lining up supermarket shelves and online store inventories. With nutraceuticals such as polyphenols and polyunsaturated fatty acids often being key components in fortified foods, the global market for nutraceutical products is bound to expand and thrive in the years to come.
Narrowing the focus to India, which is a poised to be a major player in the nutraceuticals field, food fortification is the need of the hour. With over 840 million people who are calorific sufficient but still malnourished, fortified foods can play in important role in improving public health. It also presents an opportunity for the government of India to step and play an active role in fortifying staple foods in order to deliver nutrition for all. Government buy-ins can help increase the quality coverage of fortified foods by creating a level playing field to ensure that all companies are fortifying their food products up to the same standards.
It was recently announced that India’s food regulator FSSAI is considering making it mandatory for edible oil manufacturers to fortify cooking oil with vitamins A and D, such a move will definitely help to boost immunity. Fortification of edible oil will also ensure that people belonging to different socio-economic strata have easy access to fortified edible oil across the country. This is an extremely encouraging move for manufacturers in the food & beverage industry.
Governments have several important roles to play to enable fortification and create incentives for business to engage and comply. This includes developing national fortification guidelines, setting standards for fortified foods, monitoring company fortification practices, and penalizing those who do not comply. Governments can also assess budgetary needs and create appropriate logos and labels for fortified products. Ensuring that imported fortifying ingredients do not have high import taxes is also critical. Public and private partners will need to come together to create an opportunity for food fortification.
When governments put nutrition higher on their national policy agendas, and the private sector brings innovation and expertise, there is a chance that nations will deliver both health and economic impacts that will benefit businesses and consumers for decades to come.