When you buy your next monthly organic grocery items, you can actually trace the farmer or group of farmers who produced it. You can find more info on the origin of the produce and, perhaps, how it is grown.

Be it rice, wheat, oil or vegetables – just scan the QR code on the packet using the scanner on your smartphone and get all the details, N Balasubramanian, CEO of Sresta Natural Bioproducts Private Limited, which promotes 24 Mantra , told BusinessLine .

“The consumers will have a lot more clarity on the product they are buying. We are going to launch the service in two-three weeks. Depending on the feedback, we can include additional details on the product or the place,” he said.

The firm, founded in 2004, has about 10 lakh consumers across the country. It has 29 exclusive outlets in Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Chennai. It has farming arrangements with 45,000 farmers with an aggregate acreage of 2.50 lakh acres. It procures about 40,000 tonnes of produce every year.

Pandemic impact

He said the company had not stopped its operations when the pandemic hit in March-April last year. “We have not stopped operations not even for an hour. There was panic buying between April and June. Though there were demand issues for some time after that, it was not a big issue,” he said.

“Crops have to be grown, harvested and marketed. We were determined to continue operations. We were the only organic brand that was advertising for the category during the pandemic,” he said.

It is estimated that there about 20 lakh households in the country consuming organic products. “Out of the three crore households that buy health and wellness products, 20 lakh households are interested in organic products. Of this, we have a share of 50 per cent,” he said.

The company expects that the number of households consuming organic products would grow to 10-12 million households in 5-7 years.

Stating that the firm turned profitable two years ago, he said the battle now is on to remain profitable, considering the huge discounts that are being offered in the sector. “Every player is outdiscounting the other,” he said.

The company has 24 primary processing centres at the production areas in various States. “We do the primary processing at the production areas and transport it to the five final processing centres in Telangana, Karnataka and Rajasthan where we do the processing, grading and packaging,” he said. He said the company can add 60,000-70,000 acres if demand picks up.

Herculean task

He said it was a Herculean task for the firm to convince the farmers, consumers and retailers about the importance of organic foods. It took us four years to set up the base. “We could convince Spencer’s in 2008 to sell our products. Then we started exporting our products to the US and to the Middle-East,” he said.

“Now it is a different story where organic foods are being regularly bought by a section of consumers. We now sell at over 10,000 groceries and on all the e-commerce platforms. We sell our products in over 45 countries, including the US, Europe, Malaysia and Australia,” he said.