Author – Dhruv Srivastava
When talking about party food, the first image that comes to mind is that of crispy nachos, gravy and stuffed bonanza, mutton-chops, perhaps some alcohol, or maybe just some plain soda and chips. But there is a new trend emerging now. With the idea of organic food and organic catering gaining in popularity, parties can now be as much healthy as they can be enjoyed.
Organic food without any contamination of harmful chemicals like insecticides and fertilizers in them, is a fresher and healthier food option. It is now no longer just a fad, but is rather steadily becoming an intricate part of posh supermarkets and known hotels and restaurant chains. And, even though people are still warming up to the idea of having organic food at catering events, the excitement is palpable. Organic catering, or ‘green catering’, is definitely coming of age and is here to stay.
However, such events are expensive propositions. Timothy Bartling, chef and owner of New York-based ‘Organically Green Catering’ feels that things would cost more in ‘green catering’, but someday the costs would catch up with the benefits especially if we consider the long-term costs to the environment and the health of the farm workers.
Organic Food Industry in India
It is heartening to see that the organic food industry is steadily growing in India, though still at a developing stage. Starting with organic tea, coffee and spices, it’s now grown to encompass organic flour, breakfast cereals, clarified butter, fruits, vegetables, milk, honey and others. According to a Yes Bank report released in August 2012, the market for organic food products in India grew at 20-22% CAGR to be around INR10 billion in 2012.
The online platform for such services is also gaining success and trust in the country. There are more than 25 online platforms currently catering organic foods in India. Generalist grocery sites like Bigbasket and Peppertap have also started to sell various organic categories as well. In addition, there are specialised organic caterers and sellers like ISayOrganic, JoyByNature, ekgaon, and OrganicShop. Carnival Cakes & Breads on Sarjapur Road, for instance, offers more than 30 organic bakery items. Choco Bon Bon is a vegan chocolate that you will find on the shelves of departmental stores. ‘Shahi Tukra’, a dessert made with fried bread, condensed milk and sugar is a tummy-roaring delicacy at the restaurant, Our Native Village, an eco-resort in the outskirts of Bangalore.
The number of organic food categories currently being sold is now around greater than 200. Most of these retailers cater for small parties, as do some for big ones. A few well-known organic caterers in major cities of India are:
- Ek Gaon – Delhi
- Vedanta Organics – Mumbai
- Naturally Yours – Mumbai
- Dhanyam Organic Super store – Chennai
- Our Native Village, an eco-resort in the outskirts of Bangalore
- Vegan Bengaluru Club – Bangalore
- Sharan – Mumbai
- ISayOrganic – New Delhi
- JoyByNature – New Delhi
As of now, Organic Shop retails a huge number of organic products across India. Organic India, a multinational company based in Lucknow, is also distributing their organic products to more than 42 countries including – the US, Europe, Asia, Africa to name a few more.
In short, there is a good chance that India’s organic opportunity could scale from approximately INR33,740 million to about INR134 billion by 2020 with approximately INR67 billion catering to the domestic market and another INR67 billion catering to the export markets. If we are to prosper is this field an investment of about INR20,244 million is needed to reach this level. And for this kind of funding is needed activities like the distribution and branding of organic products. This presents a unique opportunity to investors to invest and earn high profits over the next five to 10 years. It is an exciting time for the organic food industry and all stakeholders including consumers, retailers, companies, farmers, investors, certification agencies, importers and most of all, the government stand to benefit with the evolution of the organic catering industry.
Many vegans make mourning faces about the fact that sourcing organic food and eating it on a daily basis is itself such a huge challenge then how can one think about organic catering. “Providing vegan and organic food at office canteens will go a long way in addressing this problem. Companies should bring about this change at the HR policy level, for the larger benefit of their employees,” says senior journalist S R Ramakrishna. In a similar manner Sharan, an organization headed by Dr. Nandita Shah, a Mumbai-based homoeopath plans to start organic lunch catering service to offices in Mumbai, and then extend it to Bangalore as and when the idea becomes a success.
Over the last few years, several firms have also started to offer organic food products through online channels as well. “With growing health awareness among the people coupled with the rising disposable incomes and the support from Indian government, organic food will surely secure a permanent place in Indian households,” opines Manuj Terapanthi, founder and CEO, Organic Shop.