In its efforts to provide clean and sustainable eating choices, Mumbai-based Zama Organics started on a small scale, offering fresh and packaged organic goods in Mumbai while delivering the produce in Pune during weekends. Now, it has grown to service 200 homes regularly.

But the company’s packaged grocery products such as grains, pulses, spices, dried herbs, nuts, oil, sugar are available nationwide through e-commerce portals and brick and mortar retail outlets, according to its Founder Shriya Naheta.

“Currently, our presence is in over 60 stores pan-India across 16 cities. With a network of over 50,000-plus certified organic farmers across India, Zama Organics supplies fresh organically grown food to the citizens of Mumbai,” she said.

Market potential

Initiated in 2016, Zama Organics was launched formally in 2017 on the heels of Naheta’s first trip soon after her graduation from the University of South California, Los Angeles, in international relations and business. She chose to travel with her sister and her business partner, who were travelling around the country to source foraged products for their ingredient-driven restaurant.

“India has the highest number of organic farmers in the world. The potential of this market and the fact that the more I learnt about (during the first trip) the benefits, the more I was convinced of my love for organic products, played a huge role in setting up Zama Organics,” the Founder said.

This helped the firm source its produce. As it sought to build its network of farmers, it found most of them were either already organic producers or were in the process of shifting to it. Some were certified under the National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP) and others held participatory guarantee system (PGS) certificates, a quality assurance initiative.

“However, a lot of the farmers did not have the necessary certifications or paperwork in place. We started with assisting them in procuring their PGS certificates and later upgrading to NPOP, with an assurance of increased quantities post the conversion process to organic,” Naheta said.

States awareness campaigns

On the other hand, Zama’s efforts were primarily directed at finding farmers who are already practicing organic farming rather than converting existing non-organic farmers. “Additionally, Union and State governments like Uttarakhand and Meghalaya are already spreading awareness and education of the approach and are trying to transition into becoming completely organic States,” she said.

Zama’s network of farmers is spread across all regions in India. “Our seasonal produce like mangoes, lychee, and apples come from farmers across the country while other fresh produce comes mostly from Maharashtra. All in all, our groceries are sourced pan-India too; Assam black rice in the north east to red rice from the south,” the company’s Founder said.

The company has a wide range of products including fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, and oils to name a few that are sourced from farmers.

Two-level check

Asked if various produce are sourced through contract farming, Naheta claimed the firm had a farm-centric approach and allows growers to decide the rates of the produce. On determining the prices, she said: “We communicate a rough estimate of the required produce on a quarterly basis since the price is fluid from season to season.”

As organic products come with a shorter shelf life and all the fruits and vegetables are freshly harvested, Zama maintains a two-level check, where the level one of the check is done on the farm itself and the final sorting and quality check happens at the warehouse before packaging the order.

“Additionally, all our fresh produce, barring seasonal items, are sourced from as close to Mumbai as possible to maintain quality – mainly Nashik and Pune,” Naheta said.

Zama Organics owns private labels with over 200 stock keeping units for fresh groceries and staples on its website and app for delivery in Mumbai. Its e-market services serve metropolitan cities such as Bengaluru, Goa, Delhi, Hyderabad and Gurugram, though fresh products are not offered.

Zama will soon expand to Pune and will soon introduce QR codes that can trace the origin of the product.