Healthy steps

Healthy steps

By bringing together our traditional knowledge of healthy foods and scientific information, Nourish Organic Foods hopes to get more people hooked onto organic food through its various products and its first deli store

MAHATHI R. ARJUN

As a child, Seema Jindal-Jajodia remembers her mother packing mixed nuts whenever they travelled. Though it is now popularly accepted and known as trail mix that comes packaged, Jajodia believes that relying on this traditional knowledge of healthy eating is what Indians have been used to over generations. It’s this reviving of traditional healthy eating habits and simplicity that she wants to tap into through her venture, Nourish Organic Foods Pvt. Ltd. (Nourish). Jajodia started Nourish in August 2009 in New Delhi as a result of her passion for organic, healthy food and being fit. Slowly, she started experimenting with various ingredients and created products that became popular among her circle of friends. “I enjoy this whole experience of getting people to eat healthy. I wanted to bring out healthy organic food that is packaged well and gave out complete nutrition information,” says Jajodia.

Nourish now has 32 products like breakfast cereals, health bars, snacks, cookies etc. Each product goes through a lengthy process of launch as they’re tested for shelf life, nutrition and taste analysis, and trials at the stores to receive customers’ feedback before the product is marketed. Its best selling product and also, contributing most to the revenue are its health bars, which are popular especially among travellers. For this financial year, Jajodia is targeting sales of Rs. 5 crore and according to her, Nourish has grown 100 per cent over the past two years. The company has partnered with numerous retail stores across the country and is continuing to add to that list every day.

While it would greatly benefit if the industry was more organised, the rising raw material cost is a major worry. Local almonds are becoming more expensive than Californian almonds – if we don’t support local produce, they will end up becoming costlier.

The right step

Hailing from a well-known business family, Jajodia was more involved with the corporate social activities of her family business and works with a school for special children. She is also currently pursuing a course in health and nutrition from The Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York. Nourish is her first foray into business. Confronted with cancer cases in the family, Jajodia’s quest for healthy foods only increased. “When I started, I wasn’t even aware that high quality, organic raw materials can be sourced within India. So, I imported the first lot of ingredients from Holland,” she says. As she participated in organic fairs held in various cities and met up with suppliers, Jajodia’s awareness grew and she realised the importance of sourcing indigenous ingredients due to its ecological impact. Now, Nourish sources every ingredient locally – raisins are from Nasik, almonds and walnuts from Uttarakhand and Kashmir, spices from Rajasthan etc. By doing so, the company works with farmer cooperatives and also employs women self help groups who work on its products such as dehydrated apples and puffed brown rice.

Nourish has a factory in Manesar, Gurgaon where the production, sorting and packaging is undertaken. As the products have an average shelf life of six to nine months, extra care is accorded to its in-house packaging since it uses no preservatives or pesticides. Besides procuring land for its office and the factory, Jajodia put in another Rs. 3 crore for the machinery and its research and development. With a total team of 50, its in-house food technologists carry out the necessary experiments with each product. They are again tested with outside laboratories and consulted with health experts on food safety, hygiene and certifications. These drills were done close to a year before setting up the company and continue to take place with every new product.

Overcoming obstacles

One of Jajodia’s biggest challenges was to educate people about organic foods. While awareness about organic food has grown in the recent past, she realised many still had doubts about the quantity to consume, where to source it etc. It also proved difficult due to Nourish’s high retail prices because of the rising cost of raw materials. To get past it, Nourish is active on Facebook page where it encourages online discussions and also in organising tasting sessions at retail stores or at corporate offices. “People do question us about our prices but they like the fact that our products have low shelf lives. And once they taste them, they get hooked on and buy them or recommend it to others,” says Jajodia. Nourish’s biggest expenditure is in procuring raw materials and for its marketing.

Jajodia believes that Nourish’s handling of each product right from assembling to packaging, which ensures quality at every stage, is the company’s differentiator. She finds the organic market in India growing and hence, there is space for every player. Her advice to those switching to organic way of lifestyle is to always ensure the right certifications are in place and to buy only seasonal fruits/vegetables. “While it would greatly benefit if the industry was more organised, the rising raw material cost is a major worry. Local almonds are becoming more expensive than Californian almonds – if we don’t support local produce, they will end up becoming costlier,” she adds.

SnapShot

NOURISH ORGANIC FOODS
Founder: Seema Jindal-Jajodia
Year: 2009
City: New Delhi
Target: Rs. 5 crore in sales this FY

Making footprints

Nourish is constantly innovating to bring out newer products. It will be launching three to four products in the next month such as cookies and trail mix. Its first retail store format in New Delhi called Nourish Organic Deli is a recent move to increase its presence. Jajodia hopes to soon open more in Chennai, Bengaluru etc. “But I want to work with people who are passionate about fresh organic food. For now, our retail partners are doing well and we want to continue supporting them,” she says.

Jajodia is looking for strategic partners to take the company forward as her forte is in developing the products. While Nourish does not require outside investment at the moment, Jajodia is not ruling it out. She also wants Nourish to be available in schools and is already present in American Embassy School in New Delhi, and is in talks with other schools. In the long run, Jajodia wishes that more people are aware of eating healthy. By making Nourish more readily available, she hopes it would become a staple in people’s homes in the future.


Concept in brief

Seema Jindal-Jajodia hopes to revive traditional healthy eating habits and simplicity through her venture, Nourish Organic Foods. Nourish has 32 products like breakfast cereals, health bars, snacks, cookies etc. Each product goes through a lengthy process of launch as they’re tested for shelf life, nutrition and taste analysis, and trials at the stores to receive customers’ feedback before the product is marketed. For this financial year, Jajodia is targeting sales of Rs. 5 crore and has partnered with numerous retail stores across the country. Jajodia believes that Nourish’s handling of each product right from assembling to packaging, which ensures quality at every stage, is the company’s differentiator. It will be launching three to four products in the next month such as cookies and trail mix. Its first retail store format in New Delhi called Nourish Organic Deli is a recent move to increase its presence. By making Nourish more readily available, she hopes it would become a staple in people’s homes in the future.