According to recent estimates by the FSSAI, India's nutraceutical industry will be worth US$10bn by 2025.
Nutrimed CEO TN Tiwari attributed this to three factors: greater consumer awareness of fitness and nutrition, younger Indians being more invested in their health as a result of widespread obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease in the country, and greater spending power.
While this may be good news for manufacturers, concern has been raised by regulators over the level and quality of consumer awareness regarding nutraceuticals.
In addition, the rising number of channels through which these products are distributed are suspected to affect their quality.
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Education for better consumption
To this end, Nutrimed has made clear its intention to affect positive change in the market.
The company's extensive range of products include infant formula, baby food, child growth milk formula, milk protein formulas for pregnant and lactating mothers, sports and fitness supplements, and whey protein.
Tiwari told NutraIngredients-Asia: "Infant and sports nutrition products are not a commodity but are formulated products with various ingredients based on global guidelines.
"In the case of infant nutrition, we follow CODEX International, while in the case of sports nutrition, we follow US, Europe, or any international guidelines.
"Currently, both segments in India are growing. It is certainly a difficult task to educate the consumers, but Nutrimed is doing so through its own force of educators, medical representatives, training managers, technical professionals, dairy and food technocrats, social media (platforms), seminars and so on."
He added that as a qualified food scientist and dairy technologist, he had made it the company's objective to increase consumer awareness in the infant and sports nutrition sectors not just in India, but in South East Asia and other overseas markets.
The number of retail channels also pose a challenge for manufacturers, since the increases pressure on them to provide high-quality products at cheaper prices.
Tiwari said one way to deal with this was to focus on online marketing to close the gap between consumers and manufacturers, so as minimise the number of middlemen and maximise the quality of their products.
At the moment, Nutrimed sells its fitness supplements primarily through its own website, which was established four years ago and now has over 100,000 registered customers in India.
The firm also works with dealers and offers contract manufacturing for other companies across India, who use both online and offline channels to move their products; 75% of Nutrimed’s sales occur online, with the rest occurring offline.
Its infant formula and baby food products are sold mainly through offline channels, via appointed distributors in several Indian districts. These products are also exported to many SAARC countries, and the firm is also involved in contract manufacturing for export clients in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Iraq, Nepal, Oman, Sri Lanka and Yemen.
Additionally, Nutrimed's products are available on online marketplaces such as Amazon and Flipkart.
Tiwari said, "Advertisements for fitness supplements are permitted by the government, so SMEs like Nutrimed can market our products directly to end-users through social media.
"Online sales helps to maintain product quality, while having various offline partners or channels can affect this quality by holding onto their margins at each stage."
However, he also believes more distribution will move online in future, as consumers will be more likely to obtain their nutritional knowledge by interacting with doctors and other healthcare professionals online.
Based on this projection, Nutrimed is planning to expand beyond the 14 countries in which its products are presently sold.
Its goal is to establish a presence in 50 countries within the next two to three years, including parts of Africa, as well as South East Asian nations such as Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.