'Non-organic crops are produced with the use of harmful man-made synthetics, chemicals, pesticides for quicker growth thus interfering with the natural properties of the produce. '
Spices refer to the food supplements that are used for flavoring, coloring, or preserving food items. These are produced by refining a wide range of aromatic seeds, dried fruits, vegetables, etc. Spices add exquisite aroma, texture, and taste to food. Currently, India represents one of the largest producers of spices in the world. The spices market in India increased at a CAGR of 15% between 2015 to 2020. IMARC Group foresees that the spices market will continue its strong growth in the next 5 years. Some commonly available spices in the country include chili, turmeric, coriander, tamarind, cumin, mustard, fenugreek, etc. In an exclusive conversation with the Financial Express Online Adhvika Agarwal, Co-Founder, ORCO talked about the business of organic spices and more. Excerpts:
Please explain the advantages of the recent shift in consumers preferences/demand towards organic or healthy living in brands like ORCO.
The outbreak of Covid-19 served as a catalyst in driving people towards adopting a healthy and nutritious lifestyle. A major shift could be observed in the mindset of people towards organic food products which are viewed as being healthier when compared to the conventional options. The rise in awareness due to a global pandemic has been enormous resulting in a fast-growing trend of organic foods which promote clean eating and overall health. This has given a massive boost to organic brands like ORCO who are offering completely organic food products which are grown without any chemicals and pesticides.
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How does selling each packet of ORCO empower a woman and how has working with your brand impacted their lives?
ORCO is an all-women run business founded by me and my mother to empower marginalized sector women by providing them an opportunity to use the skills they have grown up learning (i.e. processing spices) and become financially independent. We call our workforce ‘ORCOpreneurs’ since these women are the sole force behind the clean, fresh and organic products we offer. As we sell more and more packets of our organic spices and condiments we will be able to create more and more job opportunities for women who wish to work and support their families. The women we work with are extremely happy to do a respectful job that they have grown up learning and already have the skills for. The employees have set timings of work, which allows them to take care of their domestic responsibilities without any hindrance. Being an all-women run company the underprivileged women feel safe and valued. We believe with ORCO we are able to touch many lives and empower women who have a passion to work and lead financially independent lives.
What is the market size of organic spices in India and explain the recent evolution in the sector after the pandemic?
The Indian Organic Food Market is estimated to develop from USD177.14 million in FY2020 to USD553.87 million in FY2026 progressing with a CAGR of 21.00% by FY2026. The colossal growth of the industry can be credited to the following- New government policies supporting organic farming combined with growing area under organic cultivationEvolving consumer choices towards nutritious food and a healthy lifestyle. The pandemic has played a crucial role in generating awareness for lifestyle choices which contributed to a rapid growth of the organic industry. Strong marketing and distribution channels and an increasing number of health-conscious consumers are set to drive the organic foods industry in India to greater heights.
How do you stand out from other organic spice brands in the same sector?
ORCO is unlike any other organic brand in the market because not only are our spices and condiments 100% certified organic but the essence of it lies in the way we process them. All the spices and condiments at ORCO are processed by hand without the use of electricity just like old times. We use traditional techniques of hand cleaning, hand pounding and hand grounding, thus eliminating the excessive heat produced by machinery which changes the taste of the spices. These techniques also help the spices breath and stay fresh, keeping all the natural nutrients, aroma, color, taste and smell intactI believe we are raising the bar of organic products with our unique mission and tried and tested age-old techniques.
What has been the YOY growth of Orco and where do you plan to take the brand in the next 2-3 years?
ORCO now, after 3 years, is a recognised and respected brand in the organic spices space. We have been successful in creating a strong presence in more than 100 selected retail stores inDelhi NCR including Modern Bazaar, Krishna Super Marche, Honey Money Top, etc. and pan-india through online platforms like Flipkart, Soka Solution, Amazon, Organikness, Organic Brand Factory and many more
On an average we see a 30% growth each year. We have also started exporting our spices to Germany, Denmark and a few other countries. In the next 2-3 years we wish to hit the international market and expand our product portfolio with an entire range of organic products that are healthy and clean including handmade chips, papad, cakes, etc. and probiotic drinks like Kombucha. We wish to be the leading organic FMCG brand in both domestic and global markets.
What are the challenges being faced in terms of quality standards and how do you follow and maintain them in your facility?
We ensure that all our spices are only sourced from organic farmers and processed in our facility undertaking all the safety measures. We have an inhouse quality testing lab that helps us maintain moisture, protein and other relevant properties in our products. We get other necessary testing done from APEDA approved labs as required every year to ensure the quality of the spices.
What is ORCO’s marketing strategy ahead and any significant shifting or changes considering the recent health crisis?
ORCO’s marketing strategy is to be visible and available at all places where our target audience shops on a regular basis. Due to the nationwide lockdown our offline sales channels weakened, urging the brand to strategically pivot the attention to online channels. We concentrated all our efforts on strengthening and expanding our online sales via our website which was aggressively revamped for a superior customer experience. Additionally we also set up an in-house marketing team to create a strong brand recall value in the market. Going forward our strategy will be to create a balanced presence in both online and offline marketplaces with the aim to be easily accessible to all our consumers old and new.
How do you define the key difference between Organic spices and normal spices?
What is organic? I get this question a lot, many people wonder is it all just a marketing gimmick? However not many of us know and want to pay attention to the simple yet very crucial difference between organic farming and non organic farming. The difference lies in how the crops are produced. Non-organic crops are produced with the use of harmful man-made synthetics, chemicals, pesticides for quicker growth thus interfering with the natural properties of the produce. Whereas organic crops are grown using only natural manure which is made out of fruit and vegetable waste or cow dung. This process allows the crop to grow naturally without the inclusion of any chemicals. The difference in how they are grown affects the nutrient value, taste, smell and aroma of the spices.