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The business of nutrition, protein and supplement

Updated: Jun 15

The business of supplement has been growing healthily across the industrialized world and emerging market. Post-covid this industry will not look back when dietary supplement will become even more mainstream.


You will be forgiven to think, supplement business had best years in 2020 during the high of covid lock-down when immunity booster became a buzz world. In our analysis, supplement was already growing even before the corona virus. Rather, it would taken a marginal hit in 2020, because of closure of gyms and people staying indoors.


Some stats picked from popular health documentaries: 68% of Americans take some form of daily supplements. 3 out of 4 Canadians take supplements.




India is not there yet but is rapidly catching up. Emerging markets like India have traditionally been relying on herbal supplements but the recent trends suggest Indians are experimenting with new varieties of supplements like never before.


Post-covid will see a new interest in health and wellness segment. One should also expect innovation in product development from brands.


To gain a perspective on the size of the market by revenue, companies like Herbalife and Amway India have collectively built a 500 million dollar annual business in India in 2021. They both have double digit growth in India. These are premium brands in India and are priced at the upper spectrum of supplement range. There are two companies in more than 500 nutrition and supplement brands in India. Around 200 brands are just selling protein supplements like whey protein, casein and amino acid (bcca).


Most of the brands are international like Optimum nutrition, my protein, Nitro tech, Dymatize. Some domestic and home grown brands are Muscleblaze, Nutrabay, Oziva. Venture capital has also invested in some of them. With homegrown marketplace like healthkart, 1mg, pharmeasy, netmeds along with amazon, flipkart have further added flip to the industry.


Like other product segments, Indians consumers behave and think differently than the western markets for the consumption of supplements. Supplements, especially the non-prescription ones like whey protein, soy, pea proteins, bcca are still lifestyle products.


With 50 million upper middle class, India is well in the category of some of the western countries like UK, France and Germany. What is interesting to note, the diversity in choice of protein and supplements in different states. Consumers from Maharashtra are different from consumers in Delhi. The top brands in each state are different. This allows brands to build their marketing and outreach strategy keeping these dynamics in mind. This is covered extensively by each state in the protein and supplement intelligence report.


Why do people take supplements ?


Common goals for supplements intake are mass gainer, weight loss, weight gain, vitamin deficiency, pre-workout, post workout, bodybuilding, muscle recovery, meal replacement, fat burner, slimming, sports performance. Weight loss is one of the most popular categories and potentially a multi billion dollar business.


The variety of protein supplements are increasing with hundreds of brands to choose from. There are new entrants who are becoming consumers. Culture of gyming is reaching tier 2 cities. As India becomes more affluent, personal fitness takes a front seat. From the obvious markets for body builders and gym goes, it has reached mainstream audiences. One can find non gymer consuming protein to fulfill his or her diet needs.


By far the most popular choice of protein supplement is Whey. It's a diary based protein. Other protein supplements being casein and bcca. For the uninitiated, lets get the basic definition of these popular protein.


What is whey protein ?

Whey protein is one of the primary proteins found in dairy products. Milk is made of two kinds of protein, one of them is whey and another is casein. A byproduct of the cheese-making process, whey protein provides substantial amounts of all the 9 essential amino acids that are needed to carry out the functions that proteins perform in the body.


What is Casein Protein ?


Another protein contained in the milk is Caesin. Unlike Whey protein, it's a slow digesting dairy protein which releases amino acids slowly. Casein is 80% of the milk protein and remaining is made up of whey.


What is BCCA ?


Branched chain amino acids (BCCA) are essential nutrients that we generally get from food. It supports muscle metabolism and is considered important for building muscle tissue protein.


The most popular protein supplement consumed


Whey protein is by far the most popular and top selling protein. Consumers are constantly looking for the best whey protein in India. It's popular in Isolate, concentrate and raw format. And popular queries on type of protein are protein powder, protein shake and protein bars. There are over 150 brands selling whey protein in India.


And the most popular whey protein brands are ON (Optimum Nutrition), Standard Gold, Nitro tech, GNC, Muscleblaze, Asitis, my protein, syntha 6, Proburst, Isopure, Dymatize. Apart from whey protein the best selling protein form, these brands also sell other forms and flavors of protein like soy protein and pea protein.


Popular products (and brands) in Whey protein

  1. ON whey gold standard protein (Optimum Nutrition)

  2. Asitis whey protein

  3. Gold whey protein (Optimum Nutrition)

  4. Himalaya quista pro

  5. GNC whey protein

  6. Nitro tech whey protein

  7. Amway whey protein

  8. Muscletech

  9. Muscleblaze

  10. Dymatize

Optimum nutrition with multiple brands like ON, gold standard,Isopure is the most popular brand in India.


But all of India doesn't think alike, brands can focus on states where there aren't clearly winners and can build a more offline channels.


For example, GM nutrition is very strong in Punjab. And myprotein is popular in Delhi while herbalife is popular in Maharashtra.


So in this highly competitive market, brands should find their opportunity to create its pockets of advantages and think at state level.


How is protein supplement consumed ?


Protein is consumed as protein shake, protein bar, protein powder and raw protein.


Apart from protein supplements, consumers also look for food that is rich in protein. High protein food for vegetarians is one of the most popular interests by consumers as they look for alternatives to animal based protein.




The business of Vitamins and Minerals


The most popular and in demand vitamins and mineral in 2020 in Maharashtra.

  1. Vitamin C

  2. Zinc

  3. Vitamin D

  4. Magnesium

  5. Iron

  6. Vitamin E

  7. Multivitamin

  8. Calcium

  9. B vitamins

  10. Collagen

Other vitamin supplements ares Omega 3, biotin, folate, cholecalciferol, Keratin, Glutamine, potassium, amino acid, vitamin B12, vitamin A, Vitamin B6, niacin


What is fascinating is every state is different. For example, Delhi's zinc interest is at number 5. We have consolidated India and state-wise interest in vitamins in our intelligence report.


Consumers have also searched and looked for vitamins for specific reasons. Hair and Skin being popular reason added for vitamin search (Example, vit for hair, or vit for skin)


Popular brands are Evion 400 (merck), Oziva (for biotin), A to Z multivitamin, Neurobion (Vitamin B complex), Mamaearth (vitamin c serum), Limcee, Ceeplus etc



The business of Nutrition


Diet plans, weight loss, weight gain, calories in food, nutrients in food are the general interest when it comes to nutrition.


Weight loss and weight gain

Fast weight loss is a recurring query by Indians and they want to know the best diet plan for weight loss. Weight gain interest by searching for a weight gain diet plan is popular interest by consumers.


Popular Diet plan interest by Indians in 2020

  1. Ketogenic diet

  2. Intermittent fasting

  3. High protein diet

  4. Vegan diet

  5. Pcos diet

  6. Hypothyroid diet

  7. Healthy diet

  8. Low carb diet

  9. Paleo diet

  10. Dash diet


Calorie interest in food

Following are the top food calories questions

  1. Banana

  2. Egg

  3. Peanut

  4. Oats

  5. Rice

  6. Watermelon

  7. Idli/Dosa

  8. Roti/Chapati

  9. Potato

  10. Milk