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The Big Switch to Becoming Organic India India is finally realizing its potential as the largest organic producers in the world, and the crops are now offered at a much competitive price

By Sarrah Kapasi

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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The rate at which people are switching to even organic cosmetics is at an all-time high. Finally, consumers are now concerned about chemicals in regular make-up triggering the growth of cancer cells, and not just the everyday intake of chemical-laden foods.

We should rejoice the big leap is actually happening; the numbers can't be lying. Indian organic market has been progressing steadily with CAGR of 25 per cent as compared to 16per cent global growth rates.

To a large extent, consumer acceptance needs to be credited to the brands for the constant awareness generated, along with expanding their categories. Let's see what is really getting people to organic products.

The Price Tag:

The perception of organic products has always been that of being unaffordable. High costs are a major challenge in India where consumers are very price-sensitive, which initially limited the acceptance of organic food and products to metro cities.

Thanks to the basic economics that has worked well, the demand-supply graph is getting better. From being a niche, now the products are considered as mass premium. India is finally realizing its potential as the largest organic producers in the world, and the crops are now offered at a much competitive price. The further push is driven from the financial assistance provided to farmers who are adopting organic farming under various central sector schemes such as National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA), Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH), National Food Security Mission (NFSM) and Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY).

While some aspects are still being worked upon – for instance, the storage costs for organic food are higher because the products are free of chemicals or pesticides. So, they end up costing around 20-30per cent more than conventional food products. More solutions mean making products more cost-effective.

The Shelf Life:

As mentioned previously, organic products are free of chemicals or pesticides, which makes storage a challenge and an expensive process. But, the technology has come to the rescue, again!

For instance, in the packaged foods category, Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) is extensively used. MAP modifies the composition of the internal atmosphere of a package to improve the product's shelf life.

The packaging technique help increases shelf life by at least three months. This has made the consumers opt for organic foods without being worried about the short expiry date.

Organic Messaging:

Brands deserve the entire credit for constantly running on consumer's mind to make the switch. Be it through the old-school TVCs, pushing the case through more urban concepts like organic food shows/expos, or even differentiating between their organic offerings from the regular ones.

Well, how many of us would ask for digestive biscuits otherwise if not for brand recall? Similar to how we never thought salt is an important ingredient in the toothpaste. Not referring to it being organic, but you get the point.

Also, moving beyond brands, even organizations like PETA are compelling people to turn vegan. If you have ever seen their videos, you would probably know why it wouldn't take too much convincing. The whole idea of vegan/organic is the wave taking over consumers. Why would we have so many organic cafes and restaurants sprouting otherwise?

The Claim Game:

While we are grateful to the brands for generating awareness, some are equally responsible for misleading. With FSSAI bringing in stringent norms to keep a check on claims and misleading advertisements, consumers will trust products better adding more power to organic businesses. The new regulation will ensure that brands do not use words like "natural', "fresh', "organic', "traditional', "fresh', etc. They've come up with definitive definitions for these words and brands will now have to go through these guidelines and use these words.

A Piece of the Pie:

Let's look at the top news around organic brands: Fab India eyeing over INR 500 crore turnover for Organic India by the end of fiscal; Marico to foray into organic food space with Coco Soul; iD Fresh to sell organic packaged food; Mother Dairy enters into INR 4,000 crore organic food business.

This tells us everyone wants to share the pie of organic demand. Since it still is a mass premium category, the margins are quite high, making it a profitable venture. Recently, even categories like sauces, salad dressings, ice-creams, have been covered by start-up brands making a mark with their distinguished offerings. This means consumers don't need to look West every time they seek something organic across categories.

There was a time when consumers would choose organic only for baby products. And, it's great to see how we have moved leaps from there.

Sarrah Kapasi

Co-founder and CEO, D-Alive Health Pvt. Ltd.

Sarrah’s association with diabetes goes beyond just being the co-founder of D-Alive. Her father, mentor and co-founder - Mr. M. N Kapasi, has had type 1 diabetes since the past 25 years, who made her empathetic and passionate to take up a company that becomes an umbrella solution for people with diabetes in India.
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