Consumer awareness of organic products on the rise: Nirmala Guttal | SupportBiz

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Consumer awareness of organic products on the rise: Nirmala Guttal

 
In this era of junk foods and adulterated food products, a nutritious food substitute seems a luxury. The relentless campaign by environmentalists and health activists has been relatively successful in spreading the awareness about organic farming and the advantages of organic food products.

The paradigm shift of interest to organic food products can well be visible in the high-income-group brackets of Indian metros where the majority goes for such products, thanks to improved awareness, higher disposable income and easy availability in the markets. Nearly 62 percent of metropolitans buy organic food products, especially fruit and vegetables, marking an increase of 95 percent in the last 5 years, a recent ASSOCHAM survey reveals.

Arya Farm Products, a manufacturer and supplier of organic food products, has been offering a variety of food products free from synthetic chemicals and pesticides from July 2011. In an exclusive interaction with SupportBiz, Nirmala Guttal, a long-time entrepreneur and a founding member of Arya Farm, acknowledges that the awareness about organic food products have increases, so did the demand.

Edited excerpts:

How do you see the demand growing for organic food products?

The demand is definitely rising due to increased awareness about organic products. Earlier we used to procure from only one source, but now we have multiple sources so that there are no delays. Media is playing a very crucial role in spreading the awareness. People are getting to know more about organic products through newspapers and TV programs. Programs like Aamir Khan’s Satyamev Jayate made people contemplate deeply on the dangerous impacts of pesticides like endosulfan.

Where do you source the products from and how do you market them?

We procure a wide variety of products such as rice, dal, cereals, spices, vegetables and other food items from certified organic farmers across India. We source mainly from Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Karnataka. We procure and pack the products under our brand name and sell through all major organic outlets in Bangalore as well as through distributors in Chennai, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Kerala. In addition, we have an own outlet in Bangalore called Green Basket through which we sell our own natural and Ayurvedic products other than organic vegetables and fruits.

What are your major products?

We have so many value added products, both ayurvedic and natural, including Flax Seed, Fox Tail Millet, Horse Gram, Kashaya Powder, Mixed Dal Dosa, Curry Leaves Chutney Powder, Amla Chutney etc.  These products are made in our own units where we do the formulating and powdering. We have over 130 products of which 20-25 are manufactured in house while over 90 are procured from farmers. There are about 25 people working in our manufacturing unit and the company is making a total turnover of Rs.10 lakhs per month.

How do industry associations like AWAKE help women entrepreneurs grow?

AWAKE helps women entrepreneurs grow through various programs such as business counseling and financial assistance, so are the other industry associations. My association with AWAKE has paid off greatly in terms of finding skilled labour and with the right contacts to grow my businesses venture. The association also conducts and connects women entrepreneurs to a lot of exhibitions and events where they can showcase and sell their products. The incubation center gives the right space for women to growth their business ideas into reality.

What are the major challenges, opportunities and future plans?

Sourcing is a very tough task; however, we are managing it pretty well. The main challenge lies in convincing customers on the importance of organic food products and in justifying the high cost associated with them. Our opportunities are vast. As long as our focus stays right on making different, innovative and quality products, the scope for growth is limitless. Getting our products featured in all the supermarkets across the country tops our goal chart. We want to find markets for Arya products throughout India. We are also planning to introduce a couple of new products shortly. Export is also on the cards; however, it requires a lot of investments in terms of packaging, licenses, international certifications etc. I think it may take another one or two years to go international.

How do you guarantee the organic authenticity of your products?

We always advise our health-conscious consumers to buy only the certified organic products by authorized companies. Our products are being certified by ADITI Certifications, an organic certification firm accredited according to NPOP, who checks and does the lab testing before giving us the certifications. All our products carry the certification emblem on the cover. In addition, we procure products only from certified farmers and sources.