With the conversation around sustainability gathering momentum, India has seen a rise in the popularity of organic food brands. Consumers are opting for products that are healthier, better for the planet and local communities too.
Even as the climate crisis looms large, with a progressive number of scientific studies putting the onus of our changing environment on human industrial activity, the significance of sustainability has grown in recent years. Many have adopted new ways of working as well as utilisation of resources. One shining example is the F&B industry, which has seen a spurt of growth in organic food brands that are not only driving changes in ways of cultivation, with a rise in focus on sustainable methods, but also collaborating with the supply side to benefit local communities.
With the primary target of reducing the negative impact of businesses on the environment and improving engagement with communities in the regions of operation, sustainability in food is shaping the entire course of the industry. Greater participation by local communities has not only boosted economies but also reduced the carbon emissions associated with a larger logistical network.
Smaller, niche brands with solid sustainability credentials are making an increasingly bigger mark in the Indian market, with the government’s call for ‘self-sustenance” ringing true as well. One critical reason for this rising popularity of organic food brands is also the Indian consumer’s growing awareness.
This Earth Day, make a pledge to shift to a lifestyle that isn’t just healthier but better for the planet and local economies too. Here’s a look at 10 Indian organic food brands you could embrace.
Zizira, based out of the verdant state of Meghalaya, is looking to highlight indigenous produce of the region and take it to wider audiences. With a focus on small farmers, sustainable farming methods and of course, local produce, the company is providing a platform for what it calls, “hidden treasures of Meghalaya”.
The involvement with farmers is deep, without involving any intermediaries. The team conducts regular field visits to interact with cultivators and understand their needs and issues. Special emphasis is laid on organic farming methods.
The brand’s philosophy is also clearly reflected in its gamut of products. Extensive research, including field trips across the state, have gone into finding suitable produce such as special varieties of turmeric, wildflower honey and Bhut Jolokia chillies, among others.
This homegrown brand specialises in organic produce from the valley. From saffron, an ingredient that is used in a variety of cuisines across the country, to walnuts, almonds and apricots, they have a variety of produce, all grown organically by local farmers, on offer.
The saffron sold by the brand holds the distinction of being the only kind grown at altitudes of 1,600meters. It can be distinguished by its red hue and aroma. Grown using organic farming methods, all of the brand’s products including almonds and walnuts, are distinct from the commercial varieties you are used to finding on supermarket shelves.
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This ‘clean eating’ company looks to provide organic produce to the urban consumer, with products including breakfast cereal, cookies, seeds and nuts, and health bars, among others.
Founder Seema Jindal Jajodia was inspired to set-up the business when see noticed a lack in the market for specialised nutrition needs. Given an increasing number of lifestyle-driven diseases in modern urban scenarios, the need to go organic has also been fuelled by heath requirements in addition to the environmental concerns.
While its processing facility prides itself on no use of preservatives, additives or artificial flavours, the brand engages local communities for both sourcing of raw ingredients alongside roles at the factory itself.
This little start-up based out of Assam started off as a specialty small tea grower’s project a few years back. The brand’s products, artisanal craft teas, are produced in small batches at boutique tea farms.
However, the founders weren’t happy with just a special cup of tea, they wanted to truly reflect their passion and vision for sustainability. Which is what inspired the unique innovation Truedip, a yet-to-be-patented tea producing technology that eliminates the need for a bag with the tea. Aside from getting rid of the resources required to produce tea bags, it also eliminates micro-plastics, which are released by many such products during the brewing process.
Truedip retains the whole tea leaf in a compressed form, and needs no tea brewing accessories. All that’s needed is to brew it in hot water.
This Mumbai-based brand is the brainchild of two women and believes in “goodness and equality for all”. The brand’s philosophy is reflected in its sourcing, with its primary supplier being Sage Farms, where sustainable farming practices such as the use of homemade fertilisers, composting, natural pesticides and rainwater harvesting ensures adherence to the principles of permaculture.
The products range from grains, spices and nuts to sauces, dips, crackers and even kitchen and tableware made by Indian artisans. Delivering only within the city of Mumbai for now, there are also pizzas, salads, and homemade kombucha available for takeaway.
Founded by a social entrepreneur and environmentalist Ruchi Jain, this fair-trade foods brand works with over 10,000 small scale and tribal farmers across the country. But it goes beyond the scope of simply sourcing produce from the farmers and also engages these communities with knowledge inputs for indigenous seeds, climate smart agricultural methods and agri-tech, among others.
The brand’s aim is to create fair-trade markets that will not just enable consumers to access a variety of ingredients from across geographies but also add value to the communities it works with.
Its products range from indigenous varieties of grain, spices, nuts and seeds to pancake and idly-dosa mixes, and coffee.
Wonder Foods and Farms
This Mumbai-based enterprise looks to empower those who cook at home. With its range of sauces and ready-to-cook pastes, this brand is aimed at those who want to create a wholesome meal at home with flavours from around the country and the world.
The brand takes pride in the natural and fresh ingredients used in its products and to maintain a standard of freshness, it follows a made-to-order philosophy.
Try out their makhana sauce, biryani sauce or spicy Malvani sauce if you’re looking to recreate Indian masterpieces or their Alfredo and Pomodoro sauces for international flavours.
Paul and Mike
This homegrown chocolate brand might have started up just about five years ago, but it’s already on the verge of fulfilling rather ambitious goals when it comes to sustainability. It aims to be carbon positive by 2023. In a world full of entities promising to still only cut down on carbon, this is a rather ‘positive’ result.
The company sources from cacao farms in Kochi and Idduki. Before launching the brand though, these local farmers were trained in the required methods. Experiments were conducted with cocoa varieties, flavour profiles as well as time of harvest and fermentation processes.
The products range from plain chocolate bars and vegan options to chocolate flavoured with unique ingredients including wine, beer and fruits.
Established almost two decades ago through the efforts of NGO Naandi Foundation, this homegrown coffee brand is unique in several ways. Its coffee is grown in Andhra Pradesh’s Araku Valley (Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu are the mainstays of Indian coffee cultivation) by a network of over 10,000 tribal farmers who practise sustainable cultivation methods. And it’s sold through one of the world’s largest fair-trade and organic certified cooperatives.
The coffee itself is GI-tagged, has won global acclaim and is available in nine other countries. Quality is strictly monitored across the bean-to-cup journey, at every level including growing, cultivation and processing. The engagement with the local small farmers ensures continuation of ancient cultivation methods in alliance with a modern scientific and sustainable approach. The foundation’s agri-economic policies also ensure sustainable livelihoods for the local communities.
There’s also a recently-launched café in Bengaluru, its second shop after one in Paris. The two-storeyed café is home to India’s first Specialty Coffee Association certified coffee school, along with a modbar and a collection of indigenous plant varieties from India’s various biodiversity hotspots.
The Little Farm Co
With a store in Gurgaon and farms in Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh, this homegrown brand is entrenched in organic values. It products comprise pickles, chutneys, dips, spices, cold-pressed oils and superfoods.
It takes its organic approach seriously with nearly all of the vegetables and spices used in its products grown organically on the farm itself, while the remaining is sourced from certified organic producers. Oils are cold pressed at the facility too, and no additives or preservatives are used. The store has also tied up with NGO ASHA to employ local women at its facility.
Many of the pickles are made with family recipes, and small-scale production ensures attention to quality. In fact, the fruits and vegetables are plucked just two hours before processing. Natural sugars are used for sweetening, rock salt instead of commercially produced table salt and sugarcane-vinegar instead of synthetic varieties.