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Can “War Games” Facilitate Peace Between Nutra and Pharma?

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Simone Baroke Bio

The nutraceutical and functional food industries face a formidable challenge: the encroachment of “Big Pharma” onto their territory. Euromonitor's global Head of Health and Wellness Research, Ewa Hudson, has been selected as a judge at an upcoming event attended by leading industry figures. This event has been designed to explore which strategies are best suited to allow players to thrive in this increasingly competitive terrain. The event uses a format that is fast gaining a reputation for accurately identifying viable solutions for industry players adapting themselves to tough competitive situations. The high calibre delegates will find themselves embroiled in a “War Game.” However, it is envisaged that the end result will be a mutually edifying peace treaty.

Learning to compete in a changing environment

The “War Games” model is essentially focused on anticipating a competitor’s next move and was originally created by competitive intelligence specialist Fuld & Co and further
developed by Via Communications Ltd. Their upcoming event, Pharma vs. Functional Food: The Fight for Supremacy, will be held on 24-26 September  2013 at The Belfry, Warwickshire, UK.

The Pharma vs. Functional Food event is designed to enable participants, drawn from the pharma and nutraceutical industries, to

  • Thoroughly understand the
    current competitive situation
  • Anticipate competitors’
  • Predict marketplace
  • Evaluate the merits of
    various strategies
  • Make strategic decisions
  • Avoid costly mistakes

The War Game is a structured strategic exercise, which any health and wellness player concerned about the following two questions will benefit from engaging in:

1. Is the company under threat from current competitors and/or new rivals?

Even before pharma giants started to pile into the ring, a longstanding battle was already being fought between makers of functional foods and makers of dietary supplements. The latter, in particular, will need to reconsider their business strategies when confronted by cash-rich pharmaceutical enterprises, which also possess the procedural expertise necessary for conducting credible “gold standard” trials in order to validate their products.

2. Is there a change in the external environment?

There most definitely is. On 14 December 2012, (EC) No 432/2012 health claims regulation on food and nutrition products finally became effective. The drawn-out process of
assessment, carried out by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), caused much consternation and upheaval in the functional food and nutraceutical industries. In effect, it created a whole new playing field that many consider to favour the approach taken by the pharmaceutical industry. Another potential game changer, which the organisers of this event are likely to explore, is governments’ avid experimentation with “fat taxes.”

Cooperationis the end game

Among the many intriguing debating points to be explored is the impact of personalised nutrition, which has the potential to profoundly change the nutraceutical and pharmaceutical product landscapes forever. This area should provide fertile ground for nutra-pharma collaboration, with pharma possessing the required research muscle and nutra contributing its much greater proximity to the end consumer.

Accessing the many emerging countries around the world, many of which feature their own long-established and widely-accepted medical traditions, is another major concern for players wanting to expand beyond their home country but who thus far may lack the necessary expertise and know-how. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and India’s Ayurvedic medicine system are for example widely accepted outside their indigenous countries and far beyond the Asia Pacific region, due to a history of diasporas emanating from these countries.

Again, entering into new environments is almost virtually impossible to pull off without the cooperation of experienced local players. These environments offer high growth prospects on the one hand but may seem initially “alien” to an outside player, no matter how big or how successful this player is on its own turf,

Consequently, although the “War Games” angle may at first glance appear to be a rather hostile approach to business growth, in reality it is about seemingly disparate industries learning from each other and finding collaborative solutions. These solutions should benefit industry players and their consumers in equal measures.

We very much look forward to reporting on the key outcomes and insights after this event.

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