When Hippocrates said, “Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food,” he couldn’t have emphasised enough on the importance of eating right. And to aid you to this end, former cricketer-turned-businessman Dilip Doshi launched an all-organic products store, christened Organic Haus in Mumbai, earlier this month.
This second store comes close on the heels of the first, opened in Ahmedabad in November last year, reaffirming Doshi’s faith in the segment. He feels that the Indian consumer’s preferences are fast evolving. She is becoming aware of the benefits of organic foods and is open to trying them out. To summarise, a latent demand waiting to be tapped and a consequent gap in the market waiting to be plugged, considering that there are currently limited options for organic products in India. A few players like Fab India and Godrej Nature’s Basket stock organic products but the range is not as extensive as Organic Haus.
The store offers everything from home care to beauty products, nutritional supplements to beverages like tea, coffee and juices to food items like breakfast cereals, chocolates, pastas, soups, sauces, ketchups and so on. Brands stocked include names like Allos, Sonnentor, Rapunzel and Sante that may be unheard of for many. Mainly because all the products are imported from the European Union. Currently, almost 90 per cent of the items stocked come from Germany and the rest from Austria.
As per Vishakha Doshi, marketing director, Organic Haus, Germany is the world’s foremost organic foods’ manufacturer with stringent certification standards. “For an item to be labeled as organic it must have 100 per cent natural ingredients. This is quite unlike India, where even if a product has 25 per cent organic ingredients, it gets labeled so,” says Vishakha, explaining the emphasis on the European Union imports. That said, Doshi senior does visualise an inclusion of locally grown fruits and vegetables in the store’s portfolio going forward.
While speaking of expansion plans, Doshi admits that the apart from extending the venture to Bangalore and Delhi by the second half of the year, the company is also open to all formats-from franchising to shop-in-shops. The only criteria being the partners must be ‘like-minded individuals’.
The challenge for this house of organic foods would be two-pronged. One, creating awareness. The father-daughter duo admit that traditional advertising mediums are too expensive for this set up. Hence the need for some ingenuity, like exploiting new age platforms like Facebook and blogs and leveraging the advantage of a ready database of Mont Blanc (Doshi’s company distributes the brand in India) customers in India.
The second and more pressing is the issue of pricing. The product prices range from Rs 100 to over Rs 5,000. Doshi does not consider the pricing to be premium. He says the prices are on par with comparable products in the segment. A comparison of the prices with mass produced goods would be an “apples to oranges comparison” as the ingredients and manufacturing process vary greatly, he says.
Then, in a price sensitive market like India, a price tag of Rs 500 for a toilet cleaner may attract a limited audience. But as the owners say, ultimately it’s all about making a lifestyle choice.