Indian companies giving MNCs a run for their money in vitamins

Indian companies have fared well in the Rs 105 billion vitamins-minerals-nutrients market in the last few years, clocking double-digit CAGR (compound annual growth rate). 

The segment is largely dominated by multinational players. Three out of the top five, however, are homegrown firms—Mankind, Torrent and Alkem. Data from pharma market research firm AIOCD shows that among the top 10 players, firms like Torrent Pharmaceuticals have grown at 13 per cent CAGR, while Alkem has clocked 10.3 per cent and Mankind 9.9 per cent, in the last three years. 

Barring Abbott India (14.2 per cent), most MNCs have reported relatively sluggish growth rates—Pfizer (2.5 per cent), Raptakos Brett (1 per cent), GlaxoSmithKline (4.9 per cent), etc. Ahmedabad-based Torrent has Shelcal, Trinergic, and Gemitrol brands in the vitamins segment, of which the first two have come through acquisition. 

A Torrent spokesperson said Shelcal is the leading brand in this therapy segment for them, with approximate sales of Rs 3.55 billion. The firm managed to double the size of the Shelcal brand, which it had acquired from Elder four years ago. “We have been able to add value through brand-building, focus on key specialties, apart from planned new introductions to meet the needs of targeted specialties. Our new introduction, Shelcal XT, launched in FY18, has already touched the Rs 250 million mark according to MAT (moving annual turnover) in March 2018,” the spokesperson added. Alkem Laboratories, which enjoys a 4.3 per cent share of this market, has two brands among the top 10, A to Z NS and Gemcal. 

Homegrown brands dominate the top 10 brand list—seven out of ten belong to Indian companies. In contrast, seven of the top 10 companies are MNCs. The top selling vitamin brand in India, Becosules, belongs to Pfizer. 

MNCs have traditionally dominated the therapy area. Experts say this is because their brands are about four decades old. “They have already built brands and established their hold. It is not easy to build a brand from scratch in this segment,” said Cadila Healthcare chairman Pankaj Patel. Creating over the counter (OTC) brands requires sustained investments, say industry veterans.

However, Indian firms are warming up to the game as they try to build an OTC portfolio apart from prescription medicines, given that the rigours of price control are less in this space, said DG Shah, secretary general of the Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance. 
“In contrast, these old vitamin brands now form the tail-end brands for MNCs that are focussing on patented products. This is why Indian brands and players have made inroads,” Shah explained. 

As such, the Indian nutraceuticals market was expected to touch $8.5 billion in 2022 from $2.8 billion in 2015, according to an Assocham-RNCOS study.


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