Fabindia Keen to Hawk Herbal Tea to the Chi­nese

Co’s sub­sidiary Or­ganic In­dia may take Ayurveda to the land of the dragon next year if it gets reg­u­la­tory ap­proval

The Economic Times - - Brands & Companies - Ra­sul.Bailay@ times­group.com

New Delhi: It was the Bri­tish who in­tro­duced tea in In­dia from China. Now, Fabindia is try­ing to take In­dian herbal tea to the land of the dragon.

“We are tak­ing Ayurveda to China,” said Wil­liam Bis­sell, man­ag­ing direc­tor at Fabindia that holds a con­trol­ling stake in Or­ganic In­dia, a Luc­know-based or­ganic food and sup­ple­ments firm.

So if ev­ery­thing goes well with the reg­u­la­tory ap­provals, Or­ganic In­dia plans to em­bark on its jour­ney into China next year.

As part of the process, Or­ganic In­dia had hired a Chi­nese con­sul­tancy to study po­ten­tial for In­dian ayurvedic prod­ucts in China. “We saw a huge po­ten­tial there,” said Ab­hi­nan­dan Dhoke, chief ex­ec­u­tive at Or­ganic In­dia. He said the com­pany has part­nered with the same con­sul­tant to help work on its en­try strat­egy for China. “We are go­ing to en­ter with our tea cat­e­gory. We are pre­dom­i­nantly into green tea and other in­fu­sion of herbs so that is very rel­e­vant cat­e­gory that is ex­ist­ing over there,” Dhoke said.

Or­ganic In­dia was founded in 1997 by Bha- rat Mi­tra, a for­mer dis­ci­ple of Luc­know-based spir­i­tual teacher the late HWL Poonja, fondly known as ‘Pa­paji’. Mi­tra came to In­dia in the1980s in search of truth and self-re­al­i­sa­tion, and ended up es­tab­lish­ing a busi­ness that sup­ports liveli­hood of thou­sands of farm­ers in the area. To­day, it sells its prod­ucts across the coun­try through 25 own stores be­sides Fabindia out­lets and hun­dreds of gen­eral re­tail­ers, and ex­ports to 35 coun­tries in­clud­ing the US, most of Europe, the Mid­dle East and some African coun­tries. In 2015-16, Or­ganic In­dia had a turnover of ₹ 205 crore.

Fabindia, the coun­try’s largest pri­vate re­tail­ers of eth­nic wear and other tra­di­tional prod­ucts, ac­quired a 40% stake in Or­ganic In­dia in 2013, and later in­creased it to 50%.

In­dian com­pa­nies al­ready sell­ing tea in China, how­ever, say it would be an up­hill task to hawk herbal tea in that coun­try. “It is go­ing to be very tough to sell herbal tea in China as they have their own ver­sions of herbal teas,” said Ra­jiv Lochan, prin­ci­pal at Silig­uri-based Lochan Tea that has been ex­port­ing Dar­jeel­ing tea to China since 2008. “The rea­son be­ing they have their own ver­sions of herbal tea and that is a mat­ter of taste.”

Or­ganic In­dia, though, is con­fi­dent of suc­cess in China. “His­tor­i­cally China has been a tea-drink­ing or herbal-tea drink­ing coun­try,” said Dhoke.

Or­ganic In­dia had hired a Chi­nese con­sul­tancy to study po­ten­tial for In­dian ayurvedic prod­ucts in China

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