- A dash of turmeric or almonds a day is nothing new for most of us. India is known for herbs and supplements that aid digestion and boost immunity. So, many would ask, what is with the diet fad. Indians are known to consume carb-rich food. With an increase in food adulteration and a busy lifestyle, our traditional diet has become insufficient. On one hand, people do not have the time to focus on eating a balanced diet. But, the quality of food products has diminished nutritional value. Despite best efforts, people need nutrition that they cannot get naturally. Many of us are reluctant to pop medical pills daily. How can we manage our health without depending on pharmaceuticals? The result and answer to these quests are Nutraceuticals. The COVID 19 pandemic has made health a priority for all. From hygiene products to immunity boosters, everything about health has become a frenzy. But even before the pandemic nutraceuticals enjoyed a steady market growth. After all, who can ignore the call ‘nutrition for health and safety?’ The global sales estimate for nutraceuticals stood at 382 billion dollars in 2019. The predictions state that India will enjoy 3.5% of the global market for nutraceuticals by 2023.
But what is sold under nutraceuticals? 65% of the segment consists of dietary supplements. But nutraceuticals are more than just supplements. Certain types of animal feed and some cosmetic products also come under the nutraceuticals sector. How is the sale of nutraceuticals regulated? In India, the FSSAI is responsible for the supervision and regulation of nutraceuticals. Products sold as sports dietary supplements need to comply with Foods for Special Dietary Uses (FSDU) norms. But with the upward trend in preventive health, what risks does the sector face? With food fraud at an all-time high, are regulations enough to protect nutraceuticals?
Why does counterfeit thrive in nutraceuticals?
- We hear tall claims but where are the gains? Are nutraceuticals as effective as their advertisements? A genuine product will work but not like a magic trick. If a product gives you results in a short time, you may need to check if it’s a fake. Fraudsters add dangerous chemicals that are not declared on the label to boost efficacy. Undeclared biocides, chemicals, and plant toxins are a danger to the health and safety of consumers. But such extra functional ingredients make the nutraceutical product more enticing.
- Complex global supply chain: India imports nutraceutical products valued at 2.7 billion dollars. Also, the Indian government allows 100% FDI in the automatic manufacturing of nutraceuticals. The complex supply chain enables fraudsters to divert the product. By doing so, they can sell the products in markets that yield higher returns.
- Need for specific ingredients: Nutraceuticals are often a product of special agricultural substances. These components may be available in limited quantities in only certain regions. So, manufacturing genuine nutraceuticals is a skilled and complicated task.
- High demand and cost: Nutraceuticals do not need a doctor’s prescription. The sector’s focus is preventive measures in healthcare. The current pandemic and focus on preventive healthcare have contributed to soaring demand and prices. So diluting nutraceuticals is a lucrative business.
Why we need to act NOW?
- Regulations are not enough. The license to sell nutraceuticals is easy to obtain. The sector is not held to the strict standards of pharmaceuticals.
- Health hazards: It is good that people have become health conscious. But fake nutraceuticals have long-term health risks. It can undo all the healthy choices a trusting consumer has made.
- Threat to genuine brands: Fake products are a risk to the brand’s image and consumer trust.
- Ecommerce and online marketplace: India allows the sale of nutraceuticals on e-commerce platforms. The Internet is a vast place for the grey market. So, with e-commerce websites selling nutraceuticals, brands need to be extra cautious.
- Track and trace technology: Global supply chains are complicated. One cannot completely avoid the gaps in the supply chain. Diversion and illegal sales become lucrative when a product is in high demand. But end-to-end visibility can help detect and protect nutraceuticals. ACVISS technology helps with serialization, bar codes, and 2D and 3D codes. These codes integrate with packaging.
- Tamper-proof and tamper-evident packaging: ACVISS provides anti-counterfeit technology that integrates with primary, secondary, and tertiary packages. Dilution and adulteration are common in nutraceuticals. So brands need to secure every unit and package of the product.
- Blockchain: ACVISS’s Hyperledger blockchain does more than secure the supply chain. With the blockchain, brands can get real-time data about the product’s journey. Ai and ML technology enable brands to track sales and returns specific to a region. So with anti-counterfeit technology, brands can engage with many stakeholders and be proactive.
- ACVISS App: The ACVISS label can then be verified at any point in the supply chain and by the end consumer. ACVISS’s app is one such medium. The app can be downloaded from the Play Store or App Store for free. ACVISS also provides web-based verifications, white-labeled applications, and an SDK for companies that wish to use their brand name for the app.
- Easy authenticity verification technology: Acviss’s unique overt and covert markers are linked with a QR code. These can be verified by a mobile app. These markers can be directly pasted on the product itself.