Ajit Singh is Chairman ACG Worldwide, President, Health Foods & Dietary Supllements Association (HADSA), India and also the President of the Task Force on Nutraceuticals of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI). His ACG Worldwide (formerly the Associated Capsules Group) employs about 4,000 personnel in India, Croatia, China, Indonesia, Brazil, UK, USA and other Countries in several factories and offices. His group is Asia’s largest capsules and related machinery and packaging manufacturing enterprise and the 2nd largest manufacturer of capsules in the world. Additionally, the ACG Group is No.1 in the world in three other pharma equipment products, and they export about 50% of their entire production to over a 100 countries. As the president of nutraceutical task force he discusses with NuFFooDS Spectrum the prospects for the nutraceutical and allied sectors in India claiming that the market will evolve successfully, and faster than expected.
What prospects do you see for nutraceutical industry globally?
The nutraceutical industry globally can expect rapid growth, faster than pharma, and has a great future in India. This industry has reached its highest point in the United States where the number of nutraceutical dosage units consumed is high even when compared with the pharmaceutical industry.
As pharmaceutical products can cost much more than nutraceuticals, the size of the industry in monetary value terms may seem higher, but the reality lies in the volume of production. Remember, one generally takes curative medicine only when one falls sick, say 10 or 15 days in a year as an average. However, nutraceuticals are consumed every day of the year as they are meant to keep one from falling sick. In my mind, there is no doubt that the nutraceuticals industry will overtake the worldwide pharmaceutical industry in volume in due course.
How do you look at the current and future Indian market of nutra, functional foods and dietary supplements?
Clubbing all three together there has been considerable interest in the last few years leading to faster growth. India is still way behind North America and Europe in such consumption. This is partly because of widespread presence of indigenous systems of medicine such as Ayurveda, Homeopathy, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, etc., some of which are also derived from herbal origins. Also the increase in discretionary income is lower in India than in advanced countries, though they are now increasing fast.
India is quite oblivious of the buzz in the USA and European nutraceutical marketplace, continuing new developments in nutraceuticals, and the excitement and huge sales that follow the launch of frequent new products. Many overseas nutra journals and newsletters have very little readership in India. Not many foreign companies advertise or promote their products in India as yet.
What are the challenges in the growth of the industry in India?
There are hardly any challenges that cannot be overcome with intelligent forward planning. If there are challenges, these should be welcomed as they give an efficient innovative producer a leadership advantage.
However, one could point to the relatively unsettled state of the regulatory area, as a challenge, though this is settling down fast. Where the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is slow or appears retrograde in their rulings, it is an opportunity for industry and their associations to assist the government with accurate, un-biased information on what is happening in other relevant markets of the world.
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