In conversation with Sushil Khaitan,CEO & Director, Pure Nutrition, who talks about the Indian market size and and their zeal to be an international brand.
Launched just a year ago, in June 2016,Pure Nutrition is a product of the creative vision of nutritionist, Mr. Luke Coutinho - M.D. Alternative Medicine. After the first round of funding from entrepreneur, Mr. Sushil Khaitan & Mrs. Asha Jindal Khaitan, the brand has plans to tap the Indian & global markets this year. In conversation with Wellnessindia.com, Mr.Sushil Khaitan, CEO & Director of Pure Nutrition throws light on the challenges of the small size of their market in India while deepening reach in the international market in lieu with latest consumer trends.
What is the current demand in the market?
Because of growing awareness among Indian consumers about the importance of nutrition in disease prevention and recovery, there has been a growing demand for nutraceuticals, especially for supplements and functional foods. Our market size is still small, accounting for less than 5% of the global share, but reports predict a doubling of India’s nutraceutical industry within the next 3 years, to reach a value of INR 26,764 crores.
Consumer demand for nutraceutical products is also growing rapidly because of an increase in co-prescriptions by doctors and other specialists like dietitians. Moreover, India’s population now has a higher spending power because of a rise in disposable incomes. All of these factors have played a role in market growth.
Why and when did you feel the need to step into this competitive market?
I have always been passionate about health and fitness, particularly the role of preventive health care in our world today. At first this was simply a subject of personal interest, but as I delved deeper, I realized that there was tremendous scope for business in the sector. Entering into the nutraceutical sector therefore satisfied my business goals, as well as my desire to promote sustainable healthy living.
After meeting Luke Coutinho and first discussing the idea of Pure Nutrition, I realized that we were a perfect fit and we instantly formed a connection. We quickly moved forward on the idea, launching Pure Nutrition in June 2016.
What trends have you witnessed in the nutraceutical market ever since you entered?
India has been changing rapidly in every aspect and as we all know, there is growing awareness about the importance of holistic health care that focuses on disease prevention, rather than treatment. In addition, rapid digitization has itself expanded and opened up new markets for the sector, even in Tier II and Tier III cities.
What’s most significant, however, is the FSSAI’s planned introduction of new regulations, which should take effect in 2018. This will remove all the ambiguity, establishing well-defined standards and regulations, allowing nutraceutical manufacturers to manufacture, distribute, sell, and import products within a clear framework.
With scores of nutri-businesses already in existence, what sets you apart from your competitors?
To begin with, we did not enter this market with the sole ambition of generating obscene profits; we have been committed to propagating holistic healing and preventive care through the use of nutraceuticals and food science. This is why we are so focused on product quality and higher bioavailability of nutrients, while many other manufacturers continue to market synthetic nutraceuticals with poor bioavailability because of cheaper costs.
In addition, we have a number of unique products, tailored to meet the demands of Indian consumers. For example, we use vegetarian plant-based sources, rather than animal-based gelatin for capsules. We also offer some products in sachet form as many in India find this to be a more affordable medium.
What benefits do the customers get if they opt for your products over those from other companies?
Despite the lack of clear regulations for the nutraceutical sector, Pure Nutrition has followed consistently high standards in terms of research & development, product manufacturing, as well as product safety. When customers purchase any kind of nutraceutical, it is because of health concerns. Hence, most do not mind spending more on products that actually benefit them. With Pure Nutrition products, consumers can be sure to get what they are paying for – safe products that are also a lot more effective because of higher nutritional bioavailability.
What potential do you see in your business when placed in the Indian nutraceutical market?
As I stated at the outset, there is immense scope for growth and expansion of India’s nutraceutical market and we do plan to seize the opportunity. It is the same reason why so many new players are being drawn to the Indian nutraceutical market. Despite the competition heating up, we are confident in the scope for Pure Nutrition’s growth. Our expansion to Tier II and Tier III cities will also contribute to business growth, while we have greater customer retention because of our high product quality.
What sets us apart from the competition is the fact that we are closely attuned to the unique cultural and nutritional requirements of Indians, allowing us to cater to their needs.
What are your future growth plans?
Aside from expanding our consumer base, we are also working to introduce new products based on local demands. For example, we will be marketing nutritional supplements in sachet form, specifically aimed at vegetarians, because of widespread deficiencies in essential nutrients like vitamins B12 and D3. We are also developing new products like bio chlorophyll and collagen sachets, that can help relieve inflammatory conditions, and boost hair and skin health respectively.
Cancer research is also of great interest to us because of nutritional malabsorption and deficiency problems in chemotherapy patients. Our research is directed at creating products that will address both the physiological and cosmetic concerns of cancer patients.
With the introduction of FSSAI regulations in the following year, we also look forward to doing business on the international stage, as there will be greater clarity on the rules and regulations governing the manufacture, sale, and export or import of such products.
How strong a footing do you see of your business in the international market?
I believe it would be premature to make any statement on our foray into the international market, but it does seem like a win-win for us. After all, India’s nutraceutical market accounts for less than 5%of the global market share and any inroads that we make overseas will benefit the brand. Of course, there will be challenges when entering new markets, as we will need to build brand reputation and awareness among international consumers. But, we are closely studying various international markets and cultural preferences to best position ourselves for deeper reach.
What blockades did you face initially and which are the existing ones?
When we launched Pure Nutrition, the Indian nutraceutical market was still emerging and we faced several challenges, as is the case for any new entrant into a competitive sector. Another challenge that has confounded us is the proliferation of cheap supplements of low quality, including spurious products, and the Indian consumer’s price consciousness. Despite these challenges, Pure Nutrition has grown sizeably, thanks to growing consumer awareness and high product quality.
Some of these problems persist till today, but we are already finding ways to overcome them. One of the biggest impediments to growth in the sector has been the lack of well-defined regulations on various aspects of both manufacture and marketing, from specific ingredients to health claims. As I mentioned previously, this issue is also being resolved with the planned introduction of new FSSAI regulations next year.
Where do you see yourself in a couple of years from now?
I’d love to end on an optimistic note, saying that the future is rosy and that we will be a major international player, but it will take a lot of work and commitment for us to achieve these goals. Based on current trends though, we have plenty of reason to be optimistic.
In the last financial year, our annual turnover was INR 2.5 crores, but we have already surpassed that amount this year and are projected to touch INR 6 crores by the end of the current financial year. With our expansion plans for both Indian and international markets I believe that Pure Nutrition could emerge as a major player at least within the Asia Pacific market.