TALKING SUPPLEMENTS WITH NISHANT PRADHAN
Supplements are a hotly debated topic in the fitness industry. Chances are, you are either for the use of it or completely against it; there aren’t many who reside in the grey area. Like many other things in society, lack of knowledge and wrong information has led to skepticism towards the use of supplements and to knowing what they are.
Despite the negative light that surrounds the subject, the supplement industry is a booming business in Nepal. Supplements have been used by fitness enthusiasts, athletes, and common folks alike. The role of supplements has been integral for many people in different walks of life.
“I HAD WEIGHT ISSUES DURING MY TWENTIES, AND AS MOST OF THESE STORIES GO I ENROLLED INTO A GYM TO BEGIN MY FITNESS JOURNEY.”
Recent trends in fitness are pointing towards a definite paradigm shift in the fitness industry and mentality of people. Traditionally, fitness has been directly related with aesthetic appeal of the body which is usually achieved through isolation workouts at the gym. Now, there is a significant segment of the people who focus on more practical fitness that may not involve any sort of weight lifting at all. That brings into question the importance of supplements for that segment and how that affects the market of supplements.
While the industry remains shrouded in discussions, new government regulations have been implemented which are currently obstacles to the industry.
To discuss these aspects and several other factors surrounding the use of supplements and the market for it, we talked to Nishant Pradhan, owner of Diet Nepal Pvt. Ltd. Diet Nepal Pvt. Ltd. exclusively represents and distributes Optimum Nutrition (ON) and BSN products, a part of Glanbia Performance Nutrition Inc., in Nepal, taking care of their entire distribution and logistical requirement across Nepal.
TNM: HOW DID YOU GET INTO THE BUSINESS?
NP: I had weight issues during my twenties, and as most of these stories go I enrolled into a gym to begin my fitness journey. I started using and learning about supplements when
I was in the studying in the States. After some research, I came to know about the massive price margin of the supplements being sold in Nepal by authorized dealers. And I’m not talking about a strategic profit margin either. One tub of supplement that cost US$ 20, which would be equal to Nrs. 1400 would be selling for the equivalent of Nrs.6000 in Nepal.
I saw a business opportunity here. One thing led to another and before you knew it I was beginning the process of starting Diet Nepal.
TNM: SUSTAINING A BUSINESS IN NEPAL HAS A LOT OF OBSTACLES. HOW DID YOU GO ABOUT SUSTAINING THE BUSINESS IN NEPAL?
NP: Back in 2010, when we first started, it was not strategically smart to go too big. Things weren’t right as buyers were being exploited, and most of the products were not completely safe to use. Anything that you put into your body should be carefully chosen. You can wear fake brands, but ingest fake branded products into your body and you are into a world of trouble.
I wanted to give the consumers an authorized and authentic product. We were the only authorized dealers at first, but the advantage quickly petered out when other non- authorized suppliers and individuals slashed prices. They were then able to sell at a much cheaper price because they didn’t go through all the legal procedures and taxes. Sustainability was difficult.
So, we came up with the concept of developing a Facebook group where we started to aware people about fitness. We didn’t straight away promote our products, we started to educate people about their fitness and we got a positive response and a large number of followers. That’s when people started recognizing Diet Nepal and associating it with health and fitness. Later we promoted our products. But there were other unauthorized companies who were also selling the same products at a lower price.
But there were people who were aware of the importance of using genuine products, that’s when we implemented our hologram system. Our products have a hologram that ensures consumers that they are receiving genuine, quality products.
After that we had a cash back policy if there were any complaints on the product itself. So, people started believing in the authentic product because it was related to health and we had also been creating awareness for people about the side effects of consuming the fake supplements. Diet Nepal was the first to appoint a brand ambassador with Sachit Pradhan, and later Sushant Pradhan.
TNM: SUPPLEMENTS ARE OFTEN SHOWN IN BAD LIGHT. HOW HAS THAT BEEN CHANGING?
NP: Misconceptions and bogus myths have often kept supplements shrouded in false impressions. But that has been changing. Thanks to the internet the consumers are educated themselves. The people are also going to the fitness concept rather than body building and moving away from the idea of just moving weights.
But there are still things that need to be set straight. The market is still not ready to accept the fact that if you don’t change your diet habits taking supplement is not going to magically give you that perfect body you. Supplements are not medicines.
Abusing any product is going to be bad for you, and so is the case with supplements. Moderation and correct product use is key.
TNM: IT SEEMS THAT NEW GOVERNMENT REGULATIONS HAVE BEEN HAMPERING THE SUPPLEMENT BUSINESS LATELY. ENLIGHTEN US ABOUT THAT.
NP: Supplements have been getting a bad rep for all the wrong reasons. That has led it to fall under the scrutiny of the government which is in the process of implementing rules and regulations to better regulate supplements and products of the like.
Department of Food Technology and Quality Control (DFTQC) are overseeing the entire policy and it looks like each product that comes into the country has to be registered and tested by DFTQC. While that is making work for us difficult at the moment, in the long run it is good news for authorized dealers. Groups that have been distributing products via loopholes will have problems bringing in the products into the country which is good news for authorized dealers like us.