In talks with Ranajay Chakraborty, Manager International Business, Native Food Store
Native Food Store is launching a healthy Millet based ready to eat range. Their RTE range is ambient in nature enabling consumers to save time where they can just heat and eat their healthy food in no time. Their RTE range has 4 variants (Millet Pongal, Millet Sweet Pongal, Millet Vegetable Biryani and Millet Bissibellebath)
Q. What motivated you to step into the health food business?
A. Health has been a very neglected subject over a few years. But post Covid, people have started taking it very seriously. From a tweak in the lifestyle to eating habit, consumers have started opting for the healthier option from the bunch of choices. Native Food Store was started in 2016 and we had visioned this change to come in the consumer behaviour. We envisioned Millets to be a futuristic choice not just with the higher aged group but also within youngsters. Being into a health-based food segment, we give prime importance to the mission, more than business, to create a healthy food habit by not compromising on the type of food our consumers crave for. We have covered it all!!
Q. What kind of research you did before jumping into this business and what findings made you sure it is the way to go?
A. We have a strong R&D Team who had worked day and night in researching and evolving the products in our portfolio. They checked the purity and quality of every ingredient that went into the making of our products and it has not been easy. At the end of the day, the product has to be accepted by the consumers so consumer research and feedbacks were given prime importance in finalizing the range we hold. Companies and corporate activities are often portrayed as major causes of health problems, and this is so for good reasons. The detrimental impact of the sale of tobacco products and alcoholic beverages on health is obvious, and nowadays the food sector is also criticized for contributing to disease and ill health. Many food and beverage companies produce and market products that contain large amounts of salt, sugar, and fat, which are important contributors to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and other so-called lifestyle diseases. These products and brands still hold a large chunk of market share destining a healthy food brand as a niche market. But we are very positive that consumer mindset is changing aggressively, giving us a foray to work towards environment and health friendly products.
Q. Millets are a superfood which have made a comeback in recent years. What innovation and strategy went into designing your line of millets-based products?
A. Millets didn’t make a comeback. They were always available and were always known by a certain set of people. It was the branding and marketing of various other alternative products which had reversed the reach/knowledge of these miraculous grains to the younger generation. Consumers, once were just fascinated with looks of the food that they consume and neglected the healthier options readily available. Our main motive was to target every ethnicity and age group which is why we came up with categories that are widely acceptable in the market. We also have fructified the thought of pointing out categories that can cater to every meal of the day as per a consumer’s choice.
Q. You have an exhaustive line of millets-based products. What are the growth patterns and market acceptance for these products?
A. Our main intention as a company is to introduce and formalize Whole Millet Grains into the minds of consumers of every age group regardless of ethnicity. That’s why we have an extensive range of millets and millet-based products giving options of their choice. We work on spreading this knowledge to the consumers on the varied positives of millets as a category. Our reach is increasing continuously with over 40% repeat rate which gives us motivation to work towards our goal to extend our reach not just in India but to every household across the globe.
Q. Tell us about the opportunities and the challenges in the Indian health food market
A. India is the fastest growing economy with vibrant culture. No matter how much influence of westernization comes in the citizens don’t forget their roots. We already are in a huge market space and a right product with a right direction and motive will do wonders. “Taste” is a very important factor considered by consumers in the Indian market. People still tend to pick taste over health. As I mentioned in the previous question “knowledge” is very important. Indian health food market is still a flirtatious in the present time. We need to hammer the core, which is the food habit, to revive the society.