A cow urine-based hand sanitiser, turmeric milk mixes, a plethora of immunity-boosting products. The hot business trends of 2020 tell a lot about the year. As the pandemic caught the world unawares, mankind found solace in hope—and immunity-boosting products. Immunity, in fact, became the keyword for fighting the invisible demon wreaking havoc worldwide. In no time, large and small businesses and marketing teams were beaming with the idea of ‘natural cures’ and ‘immunity builders’. And with the government stamping a blue tick on it, Ayurveda was discovered as the hero in the fight against the pandemic.
It all began in January when the ministry of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy) recommended Unani medicines for ‘symptomatic management of coronavirus infection’. This was a time when treatment to patients was being administered on the basis of their symptoms and the disease was only a few weeks old. Now, when the race for vaccines is on, Ayurveda still seems to be the saving grace. On September 13, the health and family welfare ministry issued a set of guidelines for recovered Covid-19 patients that included consumption of chyawanprash, turmeric milk, gooseberries, giloy, ashwagandha, amla, medicines like AYUSH Kwath, along with regular walks and yogasanas.
Interestingly, it’s not just India, which is making a beeline for Ayurveda. The global market, too, is waking up to its potential. In a research conducted by market research publisher QY Research in July, it was noted that the global Ayurvedic products market size will reach $5,172.7 million by 2026 (from $4571.7 million in 2020) growing at a CAGR of 12.0% during 2021-2026.
With the widespread global popularity of Ayurvedic and natural treatments, Indian brands seem to have seized the opportunity and are witnessing gigantic growth in sales. While some brands have rebranded their products as ‘immunity-boosters’, others that had never ventured into Ayurvedic products are now coming out with a series of them. On September 16, consumer goods company Marico announced that it has extended its edible oil brand Saffola to include Ayurvedic and immunity-boosting products like Kadha Mix and Golden Turmeric Milk Mix. Cosmetics-maker Lotus Herbals acquired organic skincare and make-up brand Vedicare Ayurveda (which owns Soul Tree) to foray into the Ayurvedic wellness space. The Himalaya Drug Company, Emami, Dabur, Baidyanath, Charak, Patanjali, Emami Healthcare are few other names in the business.
Consumer goods giant Dabur, too, enhanced the production of its existing immunity-building products like Chyawanprash to ensure uninterrupted supplies in the face of growing consumer demand.
“The demand for Ayurvedic products has been on the rise for a few years now, but the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic led to a sharper growth in consumer interest,” affirms Mohit Malhotra, CEO, Dabur India. The January-March quarter witnessed a 400% surge in demand for Chyawanprash, while the first quarter of FY 2020-21 saw nearly seven-fold growth in demand for the product, he adds. Other Ayurvedic products like Ashwagandha and Giloy Ghanvati also reported strong growth. Owing to the good business, the brand rolled out more than 40 new products within a span of three months since the Covid outbreak, including Tulsi Drops, Haldi Drops and Amla Juice.
Another Ayurvedic brand Upakarma Ayurveda is witnessing 60% month-on-month increase in sales of its immunity-boosting products and has launched 11 new immunity-boosters recently. “The global immunity-boosting food products market has been valued at $15.4 billion in 2020 and is projected to grow at a CAGR of 7.6% till 2025, according to Market Research Future. We are trying to tap a significant chunk of this fast-growing market with our products,” says Vishal Kausik, founder, Upakarma Ayurveda.
Plant-based nutrition brand
OZiva, too, has recorded a 50% increase in demand every month for the past three months for its plant-based supplements.
Interestingly, not just eatables, but the demand for Ayurvedic personal care and hygiene products is also on the rise. Organic brand Mamaearth, which deals in toxin-free skincare products, launched its Ayurvedic range of haircare products—BhringAmla hair conditioner, mask and oil—in August.
“We were planning to launch Ayurveda haircare products since a long time now. The brand and the product portfolio have been very well received by consumers,” says Ghazal Alagh, co-founder, Mamaearth.
Beauty and skincare brand
Kama, which provides Ayurvedic consultations, saw higher demand. Ayurvedic skincare brand Nourish Mantra, which was launched early this year, is also seeing a good number of queries on online platforms in the first year itself.
Even with all its success, the ‘Ayurveda revolution’ hasn’t been without its fair share of controversy. Patanjali Ayurved made headlines when it branded its medicine ‘Coronil’ as the ultimate Covid cure. Later, the AYUSH ministry gave permission for it to be only sold as an immunity-booster. Then, the internet went into a tizzy when Union minister Arjun Ram Meghwal claimed that a certain papad could cure coronavirus.
That’s not all. Union health minister Harsh Vardhan, while releasing a protocol for Covid-19, cited ashwagandha and AYUSH-64 for the prevention of Covid-19 and treatment of mild cases. The Indian Medical Association warned against such unverified claims and questioned their scientific basis, asking the minister to subject himself and his colleagues to the treatment first.
Despite all the controversies, the growth of the sector has been phenomenal, with reports suggesting it will only intensify in the future. Earlier this month, Prime Minister Narendra
Modi solidified that fact with figures and mentioned that the export of Ayurvedic products like turmeric and ginger, considered as immunity-boosters, had increased by about 45% in September compared with 2019, and that this shows the sudden boost in confidence in Ayurvedic solutions and Indian spices worldwide. He also remarked that the prices of Ayurvedic herbs such as ashwagandha, giloy and tulsi have increased significantly after the pandemic and that this will be beneficial for farmers cultivating them.
The sudden interest in natural cures has also led to the recognition of Indian Ayurvedic institutes. The Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda in Jamnagar, Gujarat, has been conferred with the status of an Institution of National Importance, while National Institute of Ayurveda in Jaipur has been designated an Institution Deemed to be University by the University Grants Commission.
Furthermore, the hope for an Ayurvedic cure for coronavirus has been further strengthened with the announcement that Dalmia Healthcare’s Astha-15—developed by Dalmia’s research arm Dalmia Centre for Research and Development—will be the first Ayurvedic drug and an indigenous formulation from India in the global market addressing respiratory disorders in Covid-19.
Not just that. In July, it was announced that Ayurvedic researchers and practitioners in India and the US were planning to initiate joint clinical trials for Ayurvedic formulations to fight the health crisis. Earlier this month, the World Health Organisation also declared that it would be setting up a global centre for traditional medicine in India, prompting PM Modi to declare the country the ‘pharmacy of the world’. The centre would work towards strengthening evidence, research, training and awareness of traditional and complementary medicine.
Clearly, Ayurveda’s moment of glory has arrived.