The muesli and chocolates come from Switzerland, agave syrup from Germany and pizza and pasta sauces are imported from Italy. Their price tags might seem a tad hefty, but Swapan Bharma, Chief Operating Officer of Organic Haus, assures that all the products at her stores are premium-quality organic.
Launched in November 2011 in Ahmedabad, within a year Organic Haus has expanded to Mumbai and Gurgaon, and its next stop is the world wide web, as Bharma plans to go online in the next two months. “Through our online store we hope to reach a much wider market. The premium retail industry in India still requires structuring, so online distribution channels are much more convenient for the consumers as well as for us,” says Bharma.
While she is still working on the intricacies of her online launch, she also needs to prepare for the competition on the internet, which is already replete with organic food stores that generate formidable traffic and register a substantial amount of hits. Present since a while now, their business has recently begun to boom. “The consumers for organic products, though small in number currently, are spread across the country, or even over different parts of a large city like Delhi. Servicing them effectively through brick-and-mortar stores alone would entail large outlays on real estate. A combination of brick-and-mortar stores and an online store provides for an optimal solution,” says Ganesh Eashwar, co-founder of organicbounty.com along with wife Jayashree. With a store in Shahpur Jat, the duo launched the portal in 2005. Their network of sourcing partners across India supply organic fruits and vegetables, beverages, staples (atta, rice and pulses) and honey among others.
In direct contact with the farmers and manufacturers, most of the websites offer everyday products, but each of them has a speciality. If Organic Haus caters to a more westernised clientele with luxury products like breakfast cereals and food supplements, downtoearthorganic.com, goindiaorganic.com and farm2kitchen.com provide consumers with essentials like papad, spices, whole grains, pickles and veggies.
However, it’s not just organically grown vegetables and grains that are flying off online shelves. Culinary expert Rashma Sud has been baking and dispensing organic, healthy treats out of her East of Kailash home for several years and has recently started a Facebook page. Her company, Dessert Carte, offers healthier alternatives to desserts, savouries, cookies, cakes and muffins for calorie-conscious consumers. “We do not use any refined flours or white sugar in our products. I use whole grains and make my own fruit syrups that act as sweeteners,” says Sud, who also offers packed school lunches for kids. “The tiffins consist savoury or sweet muffins and granola bars with a different flavour for each day of the week” says Sud.
With increasing emphasis on eating healthy, it’s the customers who seem to be benefiting most from the online organic revolution. “Even though good supermarkets have an organic range of products, it’s limited to a certain extent,” points out Arjun Bhatia. The 28-year-old IT professional and his wife Priyanka Singh, have been ordering almost half of their monthly groceries from organicbounty.com for the past six months. “Both our families have a history of diabetes and high blood pressure, so we figured that prevention is better than cure,” notes Bhatia.