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INTERVIEW

“Since India accepts two forms of certification, it can get confusing”
Monday, 28 September, 2020, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Phalada Pure & Sure, engaged in sustainable farming methods, is keeping the harmony between human and the natural world. Headquartered in Bengaluru, the company’s organic food brand Pure and Sure, currently, has a distribution network across 22 states in the country as well as in international markets such as Dubai, Singapore and Vietnam.

The brand recently conceptualised the Clean Food Movement in an endeavour to illuminate the young minds, about clean food eating habits and raise questions on food adulteration. “The future for organic brands looks promising as the market continues to grow and the consumption for healthy food products has seen an upward trend. As people are adopting healthy lifestyles, organic food stands to gain the most out of it, “said Surya Shastry, MD, Phalada Organic Consumer Products, in an interaction with Nandita Vijay on email. He also touched other important areas such as regulations. Excerpts:
How has your 9-year old company fared in the market?
We have been running our operations successfully in the domestic organic food market. We started with a small range of organic spices with limited distribution in Bengaluru and today we have expanded our product portfolio enlisting over 140 products with a pan-India distribution network. Currently, we cover 22 states and over 3,000+ retail sales points. Apart from this, we have built a strong presence for the brand in the e-commerce space too.
 What are the key strengths of your product line and which are the fastest growing?
Our key strength is that we are 100% certified organic across different categories. We work with a close network of farmers and more than 95% of our products are processed in-house at our FSSC 22000 certified organic facility in Bengaluru, which gives us the opportunity to have maximum control over the entire supply chain. We are very strong with the range of product offerings. The fastest growing products are the oils, snacks, sweeteners and flours.

India has scores of organic food brands. What is the marketing USP to catch the consumers’ eyeballs on the retail shelves?
Right from our inception, our unique selling proposition (USP) has been the range of products that we offer in the organic food space. We were the first to introduce organic breakfast mixes, Indian snacks, olive oil, pasta sauces, among others. This helped us expand our consumer base, gave us an edge over our competition and helped our target audience discover us through different categories.

Which are your fastest growing products? What is the current market share you hold in the country?
The fastest growing products in our portfolio are oils, snacks, sweeteners and flours.

While there is no specific and reliable data on the market share and size, currently, we are among the top 3 organic food brands in India, offering the largest range of products in the organic food space.

Globally, what is the acceptance of your products and which countries are generating maximum consumer reach? Are these Indians abroad or international customers?
When we started our operations in 2011, our primary focus was to set up and increase our distribution in the country. After achieving this objective, we started exploring International markets this year. Approximately 4 months back, we shipped out our first container of products to the UAE and Middle East. In a short period, we have seen a good demand for our products and a mix of customers from India and abroad. Apart from these markets, we are in talks to launch our products in South East Asia too.

How would you describe the current scene for organic food processing products in India and globally?
Since the last decade, the organic food market has been growing considerably in Indian and international markets and will continue to see double-digit growth in most of the markets. In the current pandemic situation, the focus on health will be imperative and will help us drive the need and consumption of organic food products across new markets.

Is pricing still an issue for this category?
Pricing is still an issue in certain product categories, but we feel a large percentage of consumers do see value in the premium price they pay while switching over to an organic food diet.

What are the visible trends and challenges that you encounter in the market?
Owing to the pandemic, the focus has shifted highly to immunity-based products and this trend will continue. Additionally, we see a strong trend that is developing for ready-to-cook range as people are working from home and want easy to cook options.

Currently, while there is demand, the biggest challenge is the supply chain and this plays a big risk for the organic industry, as we rely on certified farmers for our produce and cannot buy it off the market.

How much has this Covid-19 pandemic increased the demand for organic products?
At the industry level, there has been an increase of approximately 40% to 50% in demand due to the Covid-19 pandemic situation.

What does the future hold for organic brands?
The future for organic brands looks promising as the market continues to grow and the consumption for healthy food products has seen an upward trend. As people are adopting healthy lifestyles, organic food stands to gain the most out of it.

What are your views on the current regulations and certifications in the country? Is there anything more needed to strengthen the former and how foolproof are the latter?
We are happy that India has a domestic regulation in place for products sold as organic. However, it is just the first step and there is a lot more work that needs to be done at an implementation level. Also, what is extremely important is educating the consumers about the different organic labels on the packaging. Since India currently accepts two forms of certification, it can get a bit confusing from a consumer point of view to identify and understand the difference between the two.
 
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