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“Being food consumers are reluctant to pay high prices”
Monday, 01 August, 2022, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
A pioneering provider of food and beverage premixes, Nutrition Dynamic Food, founder, Arpita Doshi, shares her views on business development and research for the FMCG sector in India, in an email interview with Kimberley Fernandes. Excerpts.

How has Nutrition Dynamic Food redefined organic juice premixes in a saturated market?
Today consumers are demanding more than just nutritional factor, convenience and value for money in all food segments be it beverage, snacks or dairy. Fulfilling consumers demand needs innovation which start-ups are disrupting the market with their bold decisions, fast pace market launch and quality assurance. NDF understood market need, found niche gap between food and nutraceutical industry, designed and scientifically backed the products prior to launch and became pioneer in Functional Beverage Premixes. Attaining fruits RDA is simple but to attain green veggies RDA that helps you to remain energetic without burden of sugar was challenging. NDF redefined beverage industry by deploying Freeze dried Green Vegetable premixes with innovative combinations and taste of salty sour which redefined Beverage Industry that utilises sugar loaded sweet fruits without dietary fibres.

What's your take on the current trends in the industry particularly the ‘packaged instant food’ market, and 'ready-to-cook’ (RTC) segment?
RTC or RTD is going to be the priority segment as it provides convenience which presently consumers are grappling due to their fast paced lifestyle. Innovation is way forward to address continuous demand of new that consumers are demanding due to globalisation and urbanisation. Apart from only nutritional aspects today consumers are demanding more than just healthy but food that will help them attain healthy longevity due to increasing economical burden of healthcare. Various different channels like e-commerce has made life simpler for consumer and helped manufacturer reach directly to the consumer. All local brick mortar shops are now using power of digitalisation that makes products reach consumer in their comfort zone. Travelling has become simpler and faster thereby needing consumer demand for home cooked style food that can be carried anywhere and everywhere with minimal cooking time.

What are the challenges the FMGC industry is facing due to inflation in the market? What are you doing to cope with them?
Inflation is creating heavy economic burden on consumers as well as manufacturer, raw material prices are soaring high, fuel costs for transportation has increased to almost double than pre-Covid time, being food consumers are reluctant to pay high prices as its daily requirement. The way we took forward was to deploy innovation giving us first mover market advantage, procure directly from farmers thereby maintaining our quality, various channels digital and physical to offer our products and R&D that helps in determining dosage and functionality of the products.

How a startup is competing with old brands and combining health and flavours at an affordable price in the market?
Competing with old brands you need the power of innovation, NDF innovates, manufactures and markets the products that provides consumer with trust and quality. Founder being microbiologist and biotechnologist, consumers are provided with authentic information on health benefits to increase word of mouth publicity. NDF procures their raw materials directly from small farmers, using freeze drying technology helps in less raw material management due to long shelf life thereby reducing food waste.

How is your company using freezing drying technology in food and beverages to keep the freshness and nutrition intact?
When consumer demands Natural, Convenient and Healthy products, NDF conducted a survey where healthy meaning not just nutritional but should help consumer attain healthy longevity, what our grandma’s performed in olden days. Based on this survey, combinations were identified, 5000 plus research papers and articles were screened on technology identification, combination interactions and finally freeze drying technology was selected as it was developed in Paris in 1906, but was widely used in World War 2 to preserve biologically heat and pressure sensitive blood serum. The aim and long term vision of NDF was to establish an instant solution in beverage form that can help prevent diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer and obesity where root cause is inflammation. Developing an anti-inflammatory natural instant beverage, green vegetables had been well studied to provide anti-inflammatory process however they were heat and pressure sensitive hence freeze drying technology was deployed

How has your company fared in the Indian market, since its debut in 2019?
Being innovative because the process of deploying innovation is similar to that of technological innovation, our prototype was deployed in Ahmedabad markets in 2019 solely to test its viability. Final products were launched in April 2022, and we now have 50+ physical stores in Mumbai, Pune, and Nagpur, as well as NDF presence on four major e-commerce platforms in India. Currently, NDF has been recognised as a "Gujarat State Funded Startup," and we are working to expand our export markets in the UAE and the United Kingdom. We have received 10 plus genuine awards from various government and institutes, 10 plus patents published in the Indian Journal of Patents, 1 scientific publication, and Rs 8 lakh in revenue within 2 months of commercialisation.

The beverage industry has suffered huge losses due to the global pandemic. What are your observations?
Pandemic was an unprecedented event for all businesses, when it came to food and beverage industry which was the only industry to report growth. However supply chain disruptions were major drawbacks that hindered growth rate drastically. Hampered global supply chain increased the cost of the goods as transportation prices soared up. Various new business methods like digitalisation, lean processing has been adopted by small and medium business, product offerings focused on nutritional aspect along with taste for better sales growth, new and innovative products are demanded both at consumer end and at production level.

What have the last 2 years been like for the company, in light of the pandemic?
Pandemic was a completely unprecedented event that transformed every business and had an impact on both the front lines of the business and internal business practises. Digitalisation became unavoidable; there was no longer a reliance on brick and mortar stores to generate good business; products had to meet global standards in order to achieve targeted sales growth; and innovation became a necessity for survival. In terms of NDF, pre-Covid, our way of doing business was more focused on physical stores where consumers can experience the product, however pandemic struck and digitalisation became inevitable experience in terms of tasting the food was a challenge hence innovative way of tasting was deployed where sanitiser stands containing products were placed in store and product was sampled by the consumers. In order to survive revamping of finances was essential and hence getting government grants helped us to survive the cash burn impact. Apart from 3 beverage premixes namely - Dudhi Jaljeera, - Amrit Jara and - Veggie Oat Soup new products are being developed that will ensure better revenue generation to recover. On the positive end the awareness that we had to do pre-Covid reduced as people demanded nutritional natural products hence our recovery rate accelerated then projected during the pandemic.

How would you describe the current scenario of the non alcoholic beverage industry in India?
According to report, India will become a hub for non-alcoholic beverages due to the easy availability of raw materials, labour, and government policies that encourage more food processing. According to Statista, revenue in the Non Alcoholic Drinks market is expected to reach $10.79 billion in 2022, with a 4.46 percent CAGR (2022-2026). The pandemic accelerated growth by shifting consumer preferences away from alcoholic, carbonated beverages and toward healthier, non-carbonated, non-alcoholic beverages.

What is the company’s long term plan for sustainability?
Our goal is to improve a lot of people's daily lives. Our business is placing more and more emphasis on sustainability. Aligned with our mission to improve life, we want to build a culture of equity, inclusion, and diversity to foster a sense of belonging and encourage sustainable innovation.

Any plans on collaboration in the near future?
NDF seeks to collaborate with large and established brands through strategic partnerships by offering new scientifically tested innovative health products and collaborating on supply chain establishment on a global and domestic scale.
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