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INTERVIEW

“Organic market to grow 5-10 times in next five years”
Monday, 16 April, 2018, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Truefarm Foods, a Mumbai-based start-up, is a 100 per cent organic food company. Its vision is to become the first-choice brand for organic food across the world. It aims to provide high-quality organic food, which is delicious as well as nutritious.

The company is engaged with farming communities across the world to cultivate 100 per cent organic crops. Its founders, Ian Marber (who is based in London) and Ravi Jakhar (who is based in India), share a common passion for reducing the carbon footprint and eliminating diseases caused by toxins and chemicals in food.

It goes far to find the best products and put science back in food to make it better. It offers a wide range of products, such as pulses, superfoods, spices and nuts, breakfast cereals, flours and sweeteners.

Recently, the company’s products have been introduced for sale on the e-tail platform Amazon.

In an e-mail interaction with Harcha Bhaskar, Ravi Jakhar spoke about the new launches that Truefarm Foods has planned for the year 2018 and its aim to replace most of the food items in our daily diets with healthier, chemical-free, nutritious and delicious organic alternatives. Excerpts:

What is the difference you have noticed between the organic food industries in Western countries and India?
The organic food industry in India is still in the nascent stage and a lot of consumers are still just experimenting with organic food, whereas in Western countries, it is far more mature and many consumers have completely switched to organic foods. It is ironic, in a sense, that traditionally India was completely organic in its farming approach and it was the Western influences that led to the consumption of fertilisers in the first place.

What was the idea behind starting the company? How has the company evolved over the years?
Despite all the advances in technology, our lives are challenged everyday with greater health risks, driven by pollution in air, contamination in water and harmful chemicals in our food, with the last being the most critical. We started with the idea of making our food healthy and nutritious without any chemicals. What started as an idea two years ago has transformed into an operational business with a state-of-the-art factory and innovative products, such as Protein Plus Flour, Organic Muesli and various superfoods.

What is the product portfolio of your company? What is its unique selling proposition (USP)?  
Truefarm Foods has a range of specialised flours such as Protein Plus, Health Flour and Superfood Flour, in addition to other staples, including organic pulses and beans. Truefarm Foods products also include superfoods such as red quinoa, chia seeds, amaranth, barley and organic oats. Each product has been created with focus on nutrition needs.

Protein Plus flour has a phenomenal 24.37 per cent protein and Truefarm Foods organic oats have 68 per cent more dietary fibre, 20 per cent more protein and 23 per cent less saturated fat than other oats.

What are the benefits of consuming organic foods to human health?
Organic foods are grown without any harmful chemical fertilisers. Therefore, consumption of organic food reduces health risks significantly. Further, enhanced soil nutrition through organic farming is also likely to improve the nutrition profile of the food products. Truefarm Foods’ organic oats are an excellent example of enhanced nutrition with organic farming. Leading researchers have established the links between the use of chemical fertilisers and diseases, ranging from cancer and tumours to heart ailments and other organ malfunctions.

What type of processing takes place while manufacturing the products? What are the various organic food norms your company follows while processing?
All Truefarm products and our factory are certified for organic standards of India under the National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP), as well as for US standards under the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Organic Programme (NOP) and the European Union (EU) organic standards. Each process is carefully executed to preserve nutrition. The grinding of grains is done with stone mills at low speeds to avoid heat. Roasting, baking, puffing, blending and all other processes are compliant to organic certification norms. Finally, all products are packed in EVOH packaging to preserve nutrition and even all raw material in the factory are stored in specialised EVOH bags.

According to you, what are the prospects of growth of organic food in India? How big is the current organic food market in India, and what rate is it growing?
Organic food has witnessed significant growth in India over the last two years. People are more aware and conscious about their health and wellbeing. Truefarm Foods will play a significant role in increasing consumer awareness about organic food, and hence, we expect the market in India to grow 5 to 10 times in next five years.

What are your investment and expansion plans in India for the next five years? What is the target?
Our entire production will remain in India, and hence, we shall be servicing global markets from India. The global organic food market is worth nearly $100 billion and growing well. We will make significant investments in India to ramp up our production plan. It is difficult to commit a specific number for five years, but for the next two years, we are looking at an investment of $10 million.

In which regions and at which retail outlets are the products available?
Truefarm Foods Products are being made available in North America and Europe through online retail channels such as Amazon. In India, we are partnering with Amazon as well as making products available through various retail partners across the country. Consumers can buy from modern trade outlets as well as neighbourhood grocery stores.  The rollout has started from Mumbai and the National Capital Region (NCR) and will cover the entire country in the next 12 months.

Is there any new region you are going to tap to expand the distribution channel?
We are constantly expanding our distribution reach across the country.

Do you have any plans of import/export?
Yes. We shall be exporting a lot of products as mentioned earlier. We are focussed on Make in India, and hence, from raw materials to machinery, everything is being sourced from within India. However, a few crops, such as Chaga extract and Teff grain, are not available in India and hence, we have to import these.

On what basis is the price point of the product decided? Who is your target audience?
The pricing is decided based on the input costs and cost of delivery to the end-consumer. We focus on quality first and do not compromise on the quality for price considerations. Our target consumer is every man and woman who wants to stay fit and keep themselves, their kids, partners and parents healthy. We are looking at educated smart people who are focused on nutrition and quality.

Currently at what rate is the company growing? What is the expected turnover for the year 2017-18?
We have just started operations and expect a revenue of approximately Rs 25 crore in calendar year 2018 and grow to Rs 100 crore in 2019.
 
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