The or­ganic way of life

Progressive Grocer (India) - - Contents -

Briefly de­scribe your com­pany and its business op­er­a­tions. What was the idea be­hind set­ting up your own shops?

Be­ing a moun­taineer and an avid trav­eller, I have come across a num­ber of peo­ple oc­cu­pied in the agri­cul­tural in­dus­try grow­ing the most salu­bri­ous pro­duce in mul­ti­ple re­gions of the coun­try. Even sub­con­ciously, I have no­ticed a large ma­jor­ity of farm­ers prac­tis­ing or­ganic meth­ods of grow­ing and or­ganic cul­ti­va­tion. My inspiration to open an al­lor­ganic neigh­bor­hood gro­cery store in the heart of a metropoli­tan city stemmed from the idea of lo­cal­iz­ing the tra­di­tion of or­ganic liv­ing in city dwellers.

Tell us about the prod­uct range at your store across var­i­ous cat­e­gories.

As a full-fledged re­tail out­let, we cover a num­ber of con­ven­tional cat­e­gories that are im­por­tant to today’s buyer. The idea is to pro­vide fresh or­ganic pro­duce to con­sumers look­ing to buy healthy items for ev­ery­day use. The prod­uct range in­cludes or­ganic fruits and veg­eta­bles, su­per­foods such as brazil nuts, ca­cao nibs and goji berries, sta­ple dairy and gro­cery items and or­ganic meat in­clud­ing turkey, prawns and duck, apart from other sta­ple meats. Na­ture’s Soul is an or­ganic and sus­tain­able gro­cery out­let that caters to con­sumers who are look­ing to in­cor­po­rate healthy buy­ing habits into their life­style. With an ex­ten­sive prod­uct range con­sist­ing of gluten-free and ve­gan vari­ants, the en­ter­prise aims to bring back tra­di­tional and chem­i­cal­free meth­ods of farm­ing. Founder and Di­rec­tor Ar­jun Sahni speaks to Nimisha Gau­tam of Pro­gres­sive Gro­cer about modern pur­chas­ing trends in or­ganic and his out­let’s sourc­ing strat­egy.

Who are your ma­jor clients and what de­mo­graph­ics do you tar­get?

We see an equal mix of In­dian fam­i­lies and for­eign nationals shop­ping at our store. Our most loyal cus­tomers in­clude those who are or­ganic and re­spon­si­ble con­sumers look­ing for the right price and the best qual­ity in the or­ganic mar­ket.

Which are the best-sell­ing prod­ucts in your port­fo­lio?

The max­i­mum con­tri­bu­tion comes from fresh fruits and veg­eta­bles. Even as we see a rise in con­sumerism and the pop­u­lar­ity of pro­cessed, ready-made con­sum­ables, noth­ing can re­place whole­some veg­etable laden meals rich in vi­ta­min. It also helps that a num­ber of con­sumers now think of fruit as a healthy snack.

Con­sumers now have enough in­for­ma­tion on chem­i­cals, ad­di­tives and in­sec­ti­cides/ pes­ti­cides used in grow­ing to make an in­formed buy­ing choice. — Ar­jun Sahni Founder and Di­rec­tor, Na­ture’s Soul

How have the com­pany and its prod­ucts grown and evolved over the years?

Even though the com­pany is a year old, there is a huge po­ten­tial we are yet to tap into. We have tried in­clud­ing the best, most health­ful prod­ucts in our of­fer­ings. A cus­tomer can stop by at our store to pick up ba­sic ev­ery­day items as well as ex­otic and

un­con­ven­tional goods be­long­ing to the or­ganic foods seg­ment. We also of­fer in­stant de­liv­ery and are fo­cused on sat­is­fac­tory cus­tomer ser­vice.

What have been the con­sump­tion trends for th­ese prod­ucts and what is driv­ing their growth?

The con­sump­tion of or­ganic prod­ucts is dras­ti­cally in­creas­ing in the In­dian mar­ket. We have al­ready seen an in­flux of lo­cally grown, or­ganic con­cepts in the Western gro­cery land­scape and we too are mov­ing in that di­rec­tion. Food safety con­cerns are dis­cussed openly and a lot more peo­ple are con­scious of the qual­ity of food they’re con­sum­ing. Con­sumers now have enough in­for­ma­tion on chem­i­cals ad­di­tives and in­sec­ti­cides/pes­ti­cides used in grow­ing to make an in­formed buy­ing choice. Health prob­lems are also on the rise in ad­di­tion to life­style-re­lated ail­ments caused by un­healthy eat­ing. In my opin­ion, the ten­dency of the modern con­sumer to eat or­ganic is a driv­ing force.

What is the sourc­ing strat­egy for your prod­ucts?

We only source from grow­ers who adopt eth­i­cal stan­dards in the farm­ing in­dus­try and are com­mit­ted to sup­ply­ing all-nat­u­ral pro­duce with no traces of chem­i­cals. We source our prod­ucts at a price that en­ables them to be con­sumed by the masses at a rea­son­able mar­ket rate.

Are there any in­ter­est­ing con­cepts or in­no­va­tions you have in­tro­duced at your stores?

There is a grow­ing de­mand for gluten free and ve­gan prod­ucts as con­sumer aware­ness and prod­uct spe­cial­iza­tions in­crease. How­ever, there are a lim­ited num­ber of lo­cal re­tail stores that th­ese prod­uct vari­ants are avail­able at. We un­der­stand the grow­ing need of the con­sumer and of­fer a mul­ti­far­i­ous prod­uct line of such prod­ucts. In ad­di­tion to the in­tro­duc­tions made to the prod­uct line, we have also con­tracted some land to grow our own or­ganic pro­duce on.

To pro­cure fresh pro­duce, we visit farms per­son­ally to in­spect the en­tire cul­ti­va­tion process be­fore we set up a sup­ply chain.

What are your cri­te­ria for iden­ti­fy­ing new prod­ucts and cat­e­gories and your bench­marks for ty­ing up with new ven­dors and sup­pli­ers?

We pri­mar­ily look for cer­ti­fied goods match­ing our qual­ity and hy­giene bench­marks when it comes to pack­aged items. To pro­cure fresh pro­duce, we visit farms per­son­ally to in­spect the farm­ing meth­ods em­ployed and the en­tire cul­ti­va­tion process be­fore we set up a sup­ply chain.

What is your ex­pan­sion strat­egy and what does the roadmap for the fu­ture look like?

The fu­ture of re­tail lies in mak­ing use of om­nichan­nel medi­ums and strate­gies. We are look­ing to em­ploy the same agenda in our business plan as well. We are also look­ing to foray into on­line re­tail, in­crease cus­tomer out­reach and sup­ply our or­ganic prod­ucts on a hy­per­local scale.

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