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Akkshay G Mehta, Managing Director, Mission Vivacare Ltd

Anil Mascarenhas / 17:08 , Apr 27, 2010

Akkshay G Mehta, Managing Director, Mission Vivacare Ltd, is an Chartered Accountant and also an MBA from IIM Ahmedabad. He was studying for his chartered accountancy exam while doing his MBA in 1987.  Mehta finished his graduation in commerce from Sydenham College in Mumbai in 1984. After the completion of his MBA, in 1989, after a brief job stint with a private finance company, Mehta joined friends who were into international trading, essentially export of agrochemicals.In July 1992, Mehta got into the family business of pharmaceuticals and drug exports. Mehta began focusing on the nutraceuticals market in early 2007 and feels the nutraceutical market has a much higher growth potential than pure pharmaceutical formulations. Mehta is actively involved with Rotary and has been the past President of Rotary Club of Mumbai Queens Necklace.

Mumbai-based Mission Vivacare Ltd is an emerging leader in the "Wellness" business, dedicated to developing innovative and scientifically developed nutraceuticals to give consumers around the world the ‘Joys of Living.’ Nutraceuticals is an upcoming branch of science, wherein a product gives its consumer medicinal benefits, nutrition and food. It started off as pharmaceuticals products manufacturing and exporting company in 1994, having presence in more than 20 countries in Asia, Africa and South America. Mission Vivacare has created a portfolio of unique nutraceutical products through its innovation and R&D skills to address specific therapeutic areas. The company’s products combine the advantages of Vitamins, minerals, herbs, supplements and enzymes to provide maximum support to the human body, in its own natural processes allowing consumers to live their potential. The products have clinically proven benefits, as they are evolved after considerable research under the guidance of the Company’s advisory board of nutritionists, scientists and doctors.

Speaking with Anil Mascarenhas of IIFL, Akkshay G Mehta says, "Apart from US and India, the company is keen to tap other key markets in Europe, South America and Asia."

Brief us about the nutraceuticals market.
Mission Vivacare Ltd, has made a major foray into the US healthcare market, with the launch of its nutraceutical range of products in that country. The US market size for nutraceutical products is to the tune of around US $50 bn, growing at around 8-10% annually. The worldwide market size is expected to be about US $ 200 bn, growing approximately at 20 % annually. 

The nutraceuticals or dietary supplements market in India is presently very small.  Estimates peg the market size anywhere between Rs20-40bn and it is expected to grow to Rs 180bn in the next eight to ten years. This industry is expected to grow by around 25% annually. In the space we are into, there are players like Vitabiotics, Amway, etc in India. In the US, we will be initially launching products in the New York, Florida, California, mid west and Texas regions. We have developed innovative and condition specific Holistic Nutritional solutions.  Branded as Vivaprime, our products combine the advantages of ayurvedic and other herbs with conventional vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and enzymes for specific conditions, to provide maximum support to the human body, in its own natural processes. The products are meant to supplement drugs taken for illnesses like diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, psychiatry, etc.

What would you peg as the key differentiator?
Our competitors in India include Indian companies like Himalaya, Dabur and Charak and international companies like Amway, Vitabiotics and GNC (which imports products from US).

Our products are a combination of vitamins, minerals and herbs. There really aren’t any players who make condition-specific products, with such complex combinations; which we believe is our point of differentiation.

Our products are developed for the US markets and we have focused on Top of Science practices where testing is more rigorous and manufacturing is top class. Our documentation and approach have been rigorous and approved by regulators like Health Canada, Singapore Health Authority, EU and South Africa.

We use a lot of natural produce in our products. There is very little use of synthetic material. We evolved a very novel manufacturing system of cold and dry process; whereby the potency and the efficacy of the ingredients we use in our products is retained. 

How has the response been to your products?
The response to our products has been encouraging wherever we go. That’s because there are not many similar products available.  There are few doctors who understand supplementation. In the US there are natural medicine doctors.

We are developing products which are most efficacious and which can be delivered in the required potency when the consumer is going to take it. Few people are able to do this even in the US.

If we look at plain vanilla supplement manufacturing, the level of understanding is very limited. We come with a pharma background; so to that extent, our understanding is much higher.

What kind of opportunity do you see in wellness products? Do you see it more as preventive also?
Preventive is one aspect. The more important aspect is being a supplement.  There is a book The Next Trillion Dollar Opportunity, written by Paul Zane Pilzer, which focuses on the emerging wellness industry that will soon occupy the "next trillion," of the economy. His book explains why consumers will turn away from consuming more material goods and instead seek to achieve internal self-improvement—healthier foods, vitamins, nutritional supplements and fitness programs—and why consumers will create a virtually limitless and sustained demand for wellness-based products.

This gentleman’s take is that the wellness industry will overtake the pharmaceutical industry. His logical argument is that the pharma industry caters to around 10% of the population, which is unwell while the wellness industry caters to the 90% who are well and the 10% who are unwell. So the audience profile increases 10 times and a penetration of a mere 10% is enough for the wellness industry to match the pharma space. The industry of course needs various support activities from the government, etc.

With rising income and increasing lifespan, there is also an increase in the lifestyle diseases.  Though India has a predominantly young population, there remains an elderly population which is galloping.

You’ve been in the pharma space for many years. How do you see your company evolving?
We have been in the pharma space since 1992. That business continues in its growth path; we are more in the high value-based business rather than volume based business. Having got into the dietary supplements arena, I am more passionate about this space. The difference between both the businesses is that in pharma, there is very little scope for innovation. However, in dietary supplements, all our products are, to an extent, innovative.

We can claim innovation as we have used our hard inputs and soft inputs to bring out valuable products in the supplements space, which is otherwise very difficult in the pharma space.

Here, we can also have our own branding like an FMCG company, which we cannot do in the pharma space.

Are you able to charge a premium for your products?
We are charging US$30-35 for a monthly dose, which is a premium price which is justified by product differences and the premium ingredients, manufacturing, testing and the products results for the consumer.

Which are some of your major products?
There is VivaPrime Neuro, which is a comprehensive nutritional support containing vital nutrients for the brain.  There is Glucozone for those with sugar imbalances, which helps maintain healthy blood glucose levels. Then there is Relax which eases stress and supports sleep quality. We also have some nourishing and energizing blend of over 40 ingredients in Ultiman and Ultiwoman which is an advanced nutrition product for healthy living.

What is the vision for the company?
We are going to be increasingly focused on the nutraceuticals space. We are looking at integrating both forward and backward (getting into distribution and extraction of more sensitive herbs that we are using).

Last month, Mission Vivacare participated in Natural Products Expo West, the leading exhibition for wellness products, in California, USA as a Gold Sponsor. The company’s production facilities have been accredited by international certification agency NSF International for US GMP compliance, and this is probably the first Indian Nutra products facility to get US GMP compliance accreditation.   

Mission Vivacare has plans to enter the domestic market as well. The Indian market for dietary supplements estimated at about Rs20bn is growing at around 20%. We plan on launching our domestic foray by October this year. We will launch the products through outlets in malls, etc. in the large metros to start with. We are expecting a turnover of more than Rs3.5bn for the year ending June 2010, over Rs2bn in the previous year. Mission Vivacare is also keen to tap the capital markets through an Initial Public Offering in 2011.

Apart from US and India, the company is keen to tap other key markets in Europe, South America and Asia. We have already begun exports to markets like Canada, USA and Middle East and our Products have already received registration in some key markets. By June 2010, Mission Vivacare will export its products to more than 10 countries worldwide.  

The company has built a top-class manufacturing facility at Pithampur in Indore, which has begun operations. The nutraceutical plant has a capacity to manufacture 1.5 bn tablets and 0.75 bn capsules. 

Brief us on your financials.
For the year ending June 30, 2010, the company is expecting a turnover of Rs3.5bn compared to Rs2bn in the previous year.

Brief us about your capex plans?
We do not have plans for any long term capex in 2010.

Brief us about your IPO plans?
We are planning our IPO in the first half of 2011. We plan to dilute 10% equity in the market.