Food supplements, or nutritional supplements, deliver nutrients that may not be consumed in sufficient quantities to the body. They can be vitamins, minerals, or other substances delivered in the form of pills, tablets, capsules or liquids (1).
The size of the global vitamins and minerals market is forecasted to reach USD 20.7 billion in 2021, with India’s market size reaching USD 178 million . The Indian vitamins, minerals and supplements (VMS) market is set to grow 4.48% annually between 2021 and 2025 (2).
Overview of the market
In India, VMS are perceived as medicinal , meaning that consumers will only consume supplements if prescribed by their doctor. 37% of the population use supplements, and 23% of the urban population feel they need expert advice on which supplements to take (3). Consumers are working longer hours: they have less time to prepare nutritious food, which leads to nutritional deficiency throughout India. In addition, consumers are not unaware of how to remedy to their nutritional deficiency, which shows the need for education on the benefits of VMS products to consumers.
25% of Indians aged 45+ take vitamins, minerals and supplements to boost their immune system. (3)
Single vitamins make up 27% of the market (4). There has been a growth in the use of vitamin D, as a working lifestyle has led people to spend less time outdoors to get enough vitamin D. Deficiencies in vitamin D can lead to fatigue and poor bone health, which in the long run can cause osteoporosis. 47% of the North Indian population, are deficient in B12 which is essential for neuronal functioning, metabolism and hormone control (3). When consumers have used vitamin D and vitamin B supplements together, they have said: “they feel more energised and better in themselves” (4). Vitamin C is also becoming popular; it is taken to prevent cold or flu but also for its immunity-boosting properties.
Minerals account for 38% of the market share: the top three minerals being calcium, iron and zinc (3). Calcium helps bone health, which is important for women who have low bone density due to a decrease in oestrogen through menopause. (4) Calcium is also important for elderly as it helps maintain overall bone strength and reduces the risk of osteoporosis.
Iron is becoming more popular in India because 51% of women between the age of 15-49 are anaemic (3). This is due to several factors such as menstruation, poor diet, low iron and malnutrition. With bigger pack sizes and reasonable pricing iron consumption is growing as it is becoming more affordable.
Zinc deficiency can lead to impaired immune function. Zinc has a higher consumption rate in urban areas of India, showing the need for education in rural India.
According to Mintel, 37% of the Indian population consume VMS products, of which 58% are female (3,4). Over 50% of consumers started using VMS products from their doctor’s prescription. Recommendation is another reason consumers take VMS products, for example 26% of them started taking vitamins following friends and family recommendation. (4)
Two main factors are still stopping the Indian consumer to take VMS: they fear any side effects and believe their diet is nutritious enough.
In India, supplements are taken as a cure rather than a preventative measure. The category can target the elderly by educating the consumer on how the products can improve their quality of life. This will help target those under 25 too, as when surveyed, they said that they are more likely to take vitamins if told to do so by a parent or a senior member of the family (4).
Consumers are interested in products with vitamins C, D and E with immunity-boosting claims. These vitamins and claims are predicted to see a sales increase.
As more people start to take VMS and consumers become educated on their benefits, we feel that the Indian market for VMS products will continue to grow.
Vitamins and supplements were once taken by athletes and gym-goers to help support their athletic performance. Now we are seeing a shift in the market to more consumers using vitamins and supplements for protection and prevention from illnesses. The VMS market in India will stay reactive until consumers become more educated on the benefits of food supplements. Then, the market would shift from a reactive one to a preventive one, where consumers become proactive in preserving their health.