Indian Food Sector Is Projected To Cross $540 Billion By 2020: Ameve Sharma, Founder, Kapiva Ayurveda

In an interview with BW Businessworld, Ameve Sharma, Founder, Kapiva Ayurveda, talks about changes in the lifestyle and food habit led to multiple opportunities in the FMCG sector and more

What were the market opportunities and the changes in the lifestyle and food habit that led to the launch of Kapiva? How did the journey begin?
One main concern for people today is that they don’t seem to lead healthy lifestyles in the manner that their grandparents did. There is a lot of awareness and conversation about the quality of food. In line with this, there is a strong interest in consumer markets today to opt for cleaner, fresher products. These aware consumers are not only looking for better alternatives, but are also willing to pay a premium for it. That is a great opportunity for us.

As for the journey, for me, Ayurveda has always been a key influence, because of Baidyanath. Kapiva was born with the principles of Ayurveda in mind, specifically to bring balance in the way of living, which is a key tenet in Ayurvedic practice. I joined hands with Shrey, my co-founder, in early 2016 to focus on this together.

How is it different from the product offerings of other players in the health and wellness segment?
The main product lines at Kapiva are Herbal Juices, Healthy Foods (such as A2 Ghee, Honey, Oils, and Teas) and Plant Nutrition (such as plant protein, herbal powders and capsules).

There is a unique origin story for each of Kapiva’s products, which makes it different from others. For example, for the Amla juice, the amlas are sourced when they are fresh and ripe, instead of unripe-green (which has lower nutritional value). It is cold-pressed to ensure that nutrients are retained (heat causes the nutrients to be destroyed). All of these efforts lead to Kapiva Amla Juice having 3 times the Vitamin C than other brands. Other Kapiva products also have similar stories.  Take for instance the Aloe Vera juice, where the time taken from leaf harvesting to juice is just 4 hours, because the nutritional profile of aloe vera reduces with time after harvesting. 

There are other factors as well which contribute to the excellent quality. Kapiva manufactures small batches. The benefit of this is two-fold – smaller batches allow for more effective quality control. This strategy also allows for sustainable sourcing and manufacture.

Through Kapiva, how are you planning to introduce Ayurveda differently to the wellness seekers of the country? 
Ayurveda has been predominantly viewed as a curative solution. But Ayurveda in its true sense is actually a holistic way of living life in balance. Similarly, Kapiva aims at providing wellness not as something to turn to when one faces health issues, but rather an option for holistic wellness. Good health is not merely the absence of sickness. Good health actually represents the presence of vitality and fulfilment – this is how we present our products to consumers.

How are you leveraging the rich natural resources of the country which are at the heart of your product portfolio?
The greatest advantage of Kapiva products lies in our ability to source high-quality and best-in-class ingredients. And we take care to do this in a sustainable way.

Wild Honey is procured directly from dense forest regions and is completely unprocessed, thus retaining high nutritional value. We use only fresh wheatgrass, our amla is sourced at specific times of the year and aloe vera comes from Rajasthan. Even our herbs are fresh, and not extracts. Customers admire that Kapiva focuses on purity and quality in sourcing of ingredients in this manner.

What your expansion plan? What are the new markets you are looking to penetrate?
In line with most new-age businesses, we have an omni-channel sales strategy We are present in 2000 outlets in 10 cities at the moment and expanding rapidly. We also have a very strong presence online through our own website and marketplaces such as Amazon, Big Basket, 1mg, Medlife, Q-Trove and others.

What are the ill-effects of processed food on body and mind? Please name a few natural alternatives to processed foods.
Processed foods have become staple ingredients in every Indian household in today’s times, ranging from instant noodles to canned soup to sugary snacks. Processing takes away the core nutritional properties of the food. If you go far from your natural self, you are likely to face ill-effects. Our bodies have evolved on natural foods for thousands of years, so it’s good to stay close to that.

By making a few simple changes, you can stay natural. For example, stop consuming artificial fruit juices – opt for whole fruits or vegetables instead. Rather than using a packaged salad dressing, one could use natural dressings such as honey, vinegar, olive oil and herbs. Another way is to use homemade cereals for breakfast, such as millet or oats, instead of popular supermarket cereals.

What’s your observations on the functional food market in India – scope and growth opportunities?
The growth opportunity for the functional foods sector is really large. The Indian food sector was worth $193 billion in 2016 and is projected to cross $540 billion by 2020*. This market has been growing at a rate of 12 per cent annually. And, only a small portion of this market is currently represented by functional foods. As consumers seek better quality for themselves and their families, we’ll see more people migrating to functional foods. The share of the pie is likely to increase.

What does Ayurveda/Wellness market look like in India and globally? How is the market growing in India? 
The global herbal market is estimated to reach USD 87 Billion in three years**. And this isn’t just limited to India or immigrant populations in other countries. A number of products which have until now been seen as “traditional Indian” are now actually entering the mainstream overseas, especially in USA.

For example, finding products which have turmeric or traditional herbs is becoming common in American supermarkets. Golden Milk (which is turmeric and milk) is a case in point, as is Ghee. Not only are these products known to a larger audience now, they are also being promoted by influencers on social media as superfoods.

To tap into this growing demand, we are planning to increase the export component of our business. We are currently available in various Indian stores in the USA and are exploring tie-ups with major distributors as well to expand our offline presence. The target is to be available in the top 300 Indian stores in USA by the end of the year. Markets like the Middle East, Australia and Canada are next in line.

How are you managing your supply chain by addressing the issue of depletion of natural resources? 
The issue of resource depletion is a challenge for many product categories, due to over-exploitation. As a business which relies on natural produce, we need to be extra careful that we expand sustainably. We do this by aligning ourselves with the lifecycle of the resource. This means extracting the resource in the right seasons and in reasonable quantities. For example, while procuring wild honey from dense forests, only upto 30% of the honeycomb is taken at a time. This ensures that that the bee-hive is able to replenish itself properly.

We also take care to sensitize and support our suppliers. This means investing in training or providing technology support.

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