HYDERABAD: Demand for natural products has been on the rise. During the pandemic, people became more aware and conscious of consuming healthy foods that boosted their immunity,” says Venkat Vatti, founder, Farm2Fridge Pvt Ltd who has been doing farming on 30 acres of leased land since 2011. They produce 18 varieties of vegetables and seasonal fruits and do same-day harvest and delivery. Asserting that his is the “first eCommerce portal in India by an organic farmer,” Venkat says most of his customers are between 34 and 60 years old.
Likitha Bhanu, co-founder and CEO, Terra Greens Organic, says that 2020 was a year of reflection for many, and health as a priority surfaced. She says, “We see a rise in awareness amongst people about making healthy choices with a rise in demand for organic and healthy.” In business for nine years and with a portfolio that includes cereals, pulses, spices, sweeteners, salt, and oils, she says they are noticing adults (28-35) as early adopters to organic food. She sells both online and through retail stores.
Coronavirus causes a surge in demand
“In the last 12 months, our growth in demand has been sharp, especially since the lockdown, and we have seen an uptick in the more conscious purchase of clean and safe food which aids personal health,” says Vihari Kanukollu, co-founder and CEO, UrbanKisaan. They grow and sell over 50 varieties of leafy greens, fruits and vegetables. About the future of organic food, Vihari says, “As the awareness of eating cleaner is growing among people, their choice of purchase is also shifting towards more trustworthy sources.”
Rajesh Anireddy, founder and CEO, Quiet Earth also feels that the new trend is a direct result of growing health concerns among consumers and increasing awareness with regard to the health benefits of organic food. Using the permaculture method, he says, “We select food plants that the bioregion grows easily. Native seeds are key to food security.” He has been growing a wide variety of vegetables and greens in his five acres of land in Uppal for the past couple of years.
Vividisha Jalan, founder, Mitti Organic, who has turned a barren one-acre land in Adibatla into a beautiful green space with organic and naturally grown vegetables and fruits in two and half years using principles of permaculture says, “The pandemic helped us understand to eat healthy home food using high-quality organic ingredients which boost immunity and enhance health.” At the farm, they have a mixed fruit orchard and grow local seasonal and exotic vegetables. “Chemical sprays on raw fruits and vegetables cause and aggravate food allergies. Organic farming has been a boon to me as I can eat many fruits and vegetables which I couldn’t even imagine eating earlier due to my allergies,” shares Vividisha. Adding to the line of natural food outlets is Pure O Natural fruits and vegetables outlet at Madhapur Hyderabad. The event has celebrities talking about their love for natural foods.
Demand for organic to stay
Demand for organic food, say experts will outlive the pandemic as people have started taking their health more seriously, than before. Ramola Mishra, a communications professional in the city says she started buying vegetables from a sabziwala who comes from a village and sells in her housing society. She shares, “I made this switch three months ago. The veggies look and taste better and are fresher.” How can she say they are organic? She answers, “I recognise the taste. During my childhood we used to get veggies from our own orchards, and these taste just like them.”
Sweta Todi, an HR manager has shifted to organic for the past few years, adding that she buys organic millets, pulses, oils and veggies whenever possible. “We dabbled with a few brands, but preferred the natural taste of the pulses and rice from Sahaja Aharam.” What about the price? “It is slightly more, but worth it, better to spend on good food rather than spending on medicines later,” says she. “Better taste is my top reason, besides it feels a more responsible choice, for our body and the environment,” adds she.
“Since I have had a baby in 2019, buying sustainable food is more of a regular thing than it was before that,” shares Harini Challapally, home baker who talks about these concepts through her Instagram handle @startedwithacookie. Although the price is higher, it has health benefits. She buys from Mitti Organics, Clover and Urban Kisaan. She prefers organic as it is good for the body, the plant and the environment.
“My mantra is simple, food grown organically will give the right nutrients, so that is more than enough a reason to buy organic,” asserts Ali Mohammed, lifestyle coach and nutritionist from Salarjung Colony. Ali made the switch in 2012 and says, “I prefer my entire food range to be organic,” and his go-to-store is Hyderabad Goes Green. “I can observe a visible difference in the feel and texture of pulses, lentils, and the spices, especially the turmeric. Organic cauliflower is never enormous. The fruits have a natural aroma. There is no added colour to peas and the leafy greens,” says he. He admits though that “these pulses, grains, oils, dairy items can be expensive.”
— Tamanna S Mehdi