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“We have been able to get back to normal procedure of operations”
Monday, 18 October, 2021, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Orika, a premium spices and seasonings brand, is dedicated to bringing extraordinary flavours from across the world to every Indian home. The company is committed to minimising its ecological footprint across the supply chain, while improving farm practices, and farm income at large. However, the pandemic has led to the shifting consumer inclination from conventional brick-and-mortar distribution channels towards online retail platforms for the purchase of spices in India. Akshita Budhiraja, director, Orika, shares details about the changes, growth, trends, sustainability, and post Covid-19 recovery plan for the industry, in an interview with Kimberley Fernandes. Excerpts:

Tell us about your company’s product portfolio. What type of research goes into the development of these products?
Orika is a premium spices and seasonings, B2C wing of Paras Spices Pvt. Ltd, a brand that is dedicated to enrich everyday meals with extraordinary flavours. The spices are handpicked from across the world with places best known for them. Some of the premium offerings by us include marinades, seasonings, spices, spice mixes, wellness drinks, flavoured lemonades and special immunity boosting products.
When it comes to our research and development process, our team is driven to create a unique product.

The process starts with brainstorming together with our research and development experts to develop a new, lip-smacking blend. Their newly made solution is scrutinised by our sensory evaluation and quality assurance department to rule out any loopholes. Once we achieve the desired outcome, the new recipe gets transferred from the research and development department to the production plant. Only the best quality ingredients, sourced from the best of regions are used and processed in our state-of-the-art facility.

To maintain quality and consistency, high quality raw materials and ingredients are procured from our trusted and approved vendors. Our procurement is supported by backward integration of over 20,000 hectare of major crops and thus, we get the perfect recipe from the drawing board to your shelves.

How has the competitive landscape of the industry changed during Covid-19 and how will these changes affect prominent stakeholders in the industry?
Due to Covid-19, the consumption today is driven by factors like nutrition value, hygiene and sanitation. People still are conscious in moving around and that is clearly a major demographic variable here. Consumers are also concerned about their health, which means that established brands with higher trust factor and strong supply chain linkages will have a clear edge. Also a shift of retailers with strong digital capabilities are experiencing a growth while the retailers with weaker e-commerce offerings are losing consumer interest.

Tell us about the growth and future direction of your company in this highly competitive market.
The global food industry is evolving faster than the pace known to conventional wisdom. This evolution is led by higher than ever consumer awareness and expectations along with technological advancements. With our proactive approach we have been able to survive and thrive in this highly competitive market not only due to our in-depth product knowledge, infrastructure or technology, but also because of our vision. The vision is to meet and exceed expectations of all the stakeholders ranging from our own employees, vendors, society and most importantly our clients and users.

What are the key factors that would differentiate your brand from the existing brands in the market?
What differentiates us from others is our aim to establish an artisanal brand. While all the other brands are taking a more commercial approach, our focus is on sourcing sustainably and responsibly with an unflinching attitude towards food quality and safety. Backed by state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities, skilled professionals and years of expertise, we have touched lives with the impeccable taste of our products.

How has your marketing budget and marketing mix been affected due to the pandemic?
As it was the need of the hour, we did have to orient ourselves towards digital marketing and ecommerce portals apart from our offline presence. We struggled a bit in the beginning, but in no time, we made a strong digital presence. To meet the needs of the customers, we’ve expanded our offline presence to more than 2,000 outlets across Delhi NCR, Jaipur, Chandigarh, Lucknow, Ludhiana, Amritsar, Patiala, Pathankot, Mumbai and Bangalore. Our brands has found its way across major foodservice brands like Taj, Oberoi’s and Eros Group of Hotels. Furthermore, focussing on easy availability, our products can be seen on various online portals like Amazon, LBB, Milk Basket, JioMart, Foodhall, Reliance Fresh and we have our own ecommerce website updated with amazing recipes made from our products.

Give us a brief description of your company’s plan for sustainability. How has the lockdown and unlock affected the relationship with your distribution network?
Sustainable sourcing is on the top of the priority list for us. Our sustainable sourcing model focusses on minimising our ecological footprint while trying to improve the farm practices and farm income at large. With sustainability also comes compliance, we adhere to the stringent norms right from the farm in tune with IPM, ICM and Global GAP.

We are also a part of SAN (Sustainable Agriculture Network), further reiterating our commitment to conservation of biodiversity and rural development.

Yes the lockdown and unlock did affect our distribution network as we source globally, and due to the lockdown there were issues with importing. The prices of raw materials had gone up and at times certain materials were unavailable too. Initially we took time to balance this out but gradually having constantly worked on it, we have been able to get back to the normal procedure of operations.

Do you plan on launching new products in light of the changing trends in the industry post-Covid19?
Sure Covid had an impact on the food and beverage industry, but did not affect our business supremely. Since people started cooking at home, our products like seasoning and marinades were always in demand. We even came up with lemonades to beat the heat which were much appreciated by our customers. Our ongoing sprinklers launch is also gathering good response. We are working on the launch of grinders range and expanding our range of whole spices. Catering to the ever growing need of immunity boosting products, we shall be adding to our wellness drinks range and our research and development team is also working towards healthy soup mixes.

Any plans on collaboration with leading food platforms in India and abroad for the distribution of your products?
Yes, we have always been open to collaborations and we have recently collaborated with Food Talk India. We are also open to collaborations and distributions abroad. In fact, one of our ambitions is to spread the spice magic across the globe and we work harder every day towards achieving this goal.
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