IN these times of technology advancements, hurry and strain, it is interesting to see how people are making a lifestyle change and turning back to traditional ways for their wellbeing.
Their focus is on health and its betterment using good things created by Mother Nature while avoiding the artificial merchandise available in plenty in store shelves. Not surprising use of herbal products is the new trend in the market place and it is picking up more aficionados, each day, as it expands range in key sectors such as pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, food, agriculture, etc.
In Goa, the market for herbal products is robust, point out retailers; although it is just a fraction of the all India market estimated at Rs 7,500 crore. However, sales are on the uptrend growing satisfactorily each year, registering an increase of about 15-20 per cent annually.
Says Mr Rajendra Gurav, sales officer, western Maharashtra and Goa, Himalaya Drugs Pvt Ltd, a company that launched the highly popular herb based Liv-52, liver tonic, “All locals here are quite updated on the benefits of herbal medicines vis-à-vis allopathic drugs. They are also enthusiastic buyers of our other items in body care creams.” While Mr Raj Vaidya, proprietor, Hindu Pharmacy, Panaji, adds, “Our sales of personal care items are increasing as more and more customers are asking for them because they feel that these products are safer.”
Ground level check reveals that the demand for herbal products is primarily in personal use goods such as soaps, shampoos, face whitening creams, acne removing lotions or moisturizers, since in medicines most residents prefer to rely on drugs prescribed by the doctors. Herbal edibles, is also another niche segment where there are takers and it includes a diverse range such as tea, breakfast cereals and vegetables. One can spot some of these products in the city-based shops like Magsons in Miramar and also life style stores like Fab India.
Meanwhile, herbal products are a big hit in the beauty business where saloon owners say that clients are asking for treatments in facials, skin repair and massage. Says Ms Freda de Souza, cosmetologist and holistic therapist who runs the Wellness Centre, Panaji, “Clients who are knowledgeable and do not want instant results, but want long-term benefits opt for herbal treatment.” She adds that it is common to hear of well-advertised chemical-based creams harming people’s skins and causing damages. On the other hand, herbal potions have a “surety factor that the skin won’t get bad and lead to harmful side effects in the future,” says Ms De Souza.
As for the cost effectiveness of herbal products versus regular goods, users point out that it is reasonably priced and definitely cheaper than items made by MNCs. Says Ms De Souza, “Herbal products used by us are not as expensive as the new range available in the market.”
So what are the factors that people need to watch out for when their shopping list includes a lot of herbal items? Says Mr Vaidya, “There is no guarantee that the herbal products offered are actually based on organically grown herbs since many times vigorous testing is not done.”
While Mr Gurav cautions, “The reputation of the manufacturer is important, for instance ours is an 82-year-old company with a long history.”
Industry observers point out that India has a vast and rich resource base of herbs, the cultivation of which is being done since generations. Further manufacturers are undertaking commercial farming of herbs that has resulted in large-scale production and also exports because the popularity of herbal products is world-wide.