Initially called Herbs Nutriproducts, the company was managed by nutritionist Luke Coutinho, who had been developing products for cancer patients. He later collaborated with entrepreneur Sushil Khaitan, who invested in the business and eventually established the Mumbai-based Pure Nutrition.
The company manufactures herbal supplements, cold-pressed oils, protein powders and herbal teas through third-party contractors in Bengaluru, Mumbai, Pollachi, and Coimbatore, targeting customers between the ages of 32 and 60 — the age it believes Indian consumers are more likely to acknowledge age-related health problems.
Khaitan, who is now director of Pure Nutrition, told NutraIngredients-Asia: "India is a young country, with more than 65% of the population below the age of 35, and health and age-related concerns usually start in the early to late 30s.
"People have greater access to the information and are getting more aware (of the need for preventive healthcare), so Pure Nutrition creates products catering to those in this age group to resolve various nutritional needs."
Numbers in nutrition
Apart from its own website, Pure Nutrition's products are currently available on Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal, 1MG, PharmEasy and Netmeds.
They are also stocked in 90 FMCG chain outlets and approximately 300 pharmacies across India, in addition to two exclusive retail stores at Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport.
Outside India, they are also sold on Amazon USA, as well as in the UK, Spain, France and Italy, and will soon be available in Germany.
Khaitan said the firm raised US$584,240 (₹40m) in seed funding in 2017, and saw revenues of US$1.35m (₹92.5m) in its 2018 — 2019 financial year; it is aiming for a US$2.9m (₹200m) turnover by next year.
At the same time, it is considering a franchise to support further expansion, and plans to open 100 stores across India in the coming year.
The firm makes a major play of emphasising its ayurvedic principles, and also makes claims of superior bioavailability.
"For example, one of our best-selling products, Curcumin Plus, is over 10 times more bioavailable than standard curcumin supplements," Khaitan said.
The company's curcumin products contain a patented formulation called Cureit, developed by Indian spice producer Aurea Biolabs. According to a pilot crossover study Aurea conducted, Cureit was reported to be over 10 times more bioavailable than regular curcumin.
The researchers had recruited 12 healthy male adults between the ages of 18 and 54, giving them each either 500mg of Cureit or 500mg of regular curcumin.
They subsequently observed that over an eight-hour period following supplementation, those who had taken Cureit had higher plasma concentrations of curcumin than those who had taken regular curcumin.
Khaitan added that Pure Nutrition's products were created with the help of nutritionists, food scientists, and ayurvedic doctors, and that the company planned to conduct more clinical trials on its products.
"We have identified a few products like Progut Plus, Apple Cider Vinegar Plus, and Detox Kidney, for which we plan to conduct clinical trials. Also, we are in process of developing a cutting-edge product for eye health, the ingredients of which have been clinically proven to give results."
According to Khaitan, Pure Nutrition's commitment to quality has attracted many customers, but also presented certain challenges.
Pointing to counterfeit supplements sold at cheap prices, he said it was difficult for the company to justify its higher prices to potential customers. Indian consumers are also still lacking in awareness in many aspects of nutrition and supplementation, which can mean they are less willing to fork out more for such products.
However, the company sees this an opportunity to raise awareness and educate consumers, and has seen the situation improve over the last few years.
Khaitan said: "A few years back, lack of awareness was our biggest challenge — not just in consumers, but also in healthcare professionals. However, with greater Internet penetration across the country, awareness about the importance of nutrition in disease prevention and nutritional deficiencies has been increasing."
The firm plans to help facilitate continuing education and raise awareness by organising on-ground activities, such as exhibitions and seminars for consumers to attend.
Within the next six months, Pure Nutrition will also be adding to its portfolio with a range of whey protein-rich FMCG consumables, which will include protein and granola bars, trail mixes, peanut butter, cashew butter, almond butter, cookies and breakfast cereals.
Khaitan said: "We are also planning to expand our demographic to include younger millennials and Gen Z consumers. Catching them young and conditioning their minds to be healthy early in life is our aim."
Additionally, the company intends to strengthen its distribution in APAC and the Middle East.
"We have seen a demand for cold-pressed oils, curcumin and probiotics coming from that part of the world, and this trend is only set to grow in the coming months," said Khaitan.