The Organic World – ‘Responsible Retailer’ offers ‘better choices’ to lead a chemical-free lifestyle

The retail chain currently offers 2000+ organic and natural products under one roof
The Organic World – ‘Responsible Retailer’ offers ‘better choices’ to lead a chemical-free lifestyle

Photo - The Organic World

Launched in 2016, The Organic World, a part of the Nimida Group, is one of India’s largest retailers for organic and natural groceries and the country’s leading ‘Responsible Retailer’. Headquartered in Bengaluru, the retail chain currently offers 2000+ organic and natural products under one roof. The conscious consumer can enjoy access to a range of chemical-free and preservative-free groceries, from certified-organic fruits and vegetables, organic and natural everyday cooking essentials like atta, dal and rice, chemical-free beauty and personal care as well as health and wellness products, snacks free of trans fat, home cleaning essentials free of toxins – everything to meet a consumer’s daily as well as monthly consumption needs. Here are excerpts of our recent interaction with Gaurav Manchanda, founder and director of The Organic World.

FTB – Tell us about your vision of starting this business and entering the organic retail space, knowing that it will be bigger and more challenging.

Gaurav Manchanda - While the challenges in the organic retail space may be bigger, the opportunity it presents is also truly immense. This is a space that is still evolving in India as compared to the global market. As per research firm IMARC, the Indian organic food market touched $815 million in 2020 and is further expected to grow at a CAGR of 24% from 2021 to 2026, which shows what was once a niche demand has now evolved into a key need.

<div class="paragraphs"><p><em>Gaurav Manchanda, founder and director of The Organic World</em></p></div>

Gaurav Manchanda, founder and director of The Organic World

Photo - The Organic World

Over the last two years, the pandemic has spotlighted health and immunity, and we are seeing Indian consumers become more aware and seek healthier and more sustainable solutions. At The Organic World, we work towards empowering consumers to make healthier, cleaner, mindful and more sustainable choices.

As a Responsible Retailer, we create awareness about the compromises modern life has normalized and offer ‘better choices’ to our consumers so that they can lead a chemical-free lifestyle. To reiterate, our focus as a Responsible Retailer has always been to create an ecosystem that benefits all the stakeholders, which drives our mission to be a gamechanger in this space. To this end, we have taken an industry-first stand with our Not In Our Aisle List – a list of 25 harmful ingredients and chemicals commonly found in conventional groceries but not in those at The Organic World. This hard stand that we have taken ensures every product you see on our shelves lives up to a higher standard than industry-established ones, making it truly a better choice and is what sets us apart from other players in this space.

FTB - In a world so dependent on chemicals, how do you put forward your approach to the Organic World?

Gaurav Manchanda - Our approach is simple: to be a Responsible Retailer – one that is transparent with customers and weighs their best interests over short-term financial returns and growth.

As far as our product portfolio is concerned, it is defined by our industry-first ‘Not In Our Aisle List’ – a list of 25 (and growing) chemicals/ingredients that we have banned from our stores because studies have suggested that they could have adverse health effects.

We ensure that the products we keep on our shelves at The Organic World live up to a higher standard than industry-established standards. We deliver an authentic and safe experience across the entire ‘farm to table’ value chain. In today’s world, where everything we consume is laden with chemicals, our product assortment stands out as being a truly better choice for our consumers, empowering them for a safer, chemical-free, mindful and cleaner way of living.

FTB - How do you create awareness about the informed consumption pattern?

Gaurav Manchanda - At The Organic World, we are consistently working towards gently nudging our customers from the conventional consumption pattern to a more informed consumption pattern. Our industry-first ‘Not In Our Aisle’ List is a fine example of the uncompromising stand we have taken to give our customers the confidence that every product on our shelves is a ‘better choice’ for them. Our focus is on 100% authentic products and ensuring that all related information is made easily available to our consumers. We encourage consumers to read the labels to check what goes into the products.

We engage and interact with our customer base regularly through various channels: our social media platforms, emails and WhatsApp. We recently launched a campaign called #AskUsAnything that promotes transparency and works towards awareness-building by giving our customers the chance to ask us anything related to organic farming, our brands, products, etc.

Photo - The Organic World

FTB - What makes you different from other competitors in the organic retail sector?

Gaurav Manchanda - As a brand, we strive for authenticity, accessibility and affordability. Our Not In Our Aisle List sets us apart from other retailers in this space. By ensuring that the products we keep on our shelves at The Organic World live up to a higher standard than industry-established ones, every product we offer is truly the better choice.

FTB - As mentioned, 25 chemicals/ingredients are not allowed on your shelves. Please state some and why? And if other brands are using it, it must be allowed; or is it not?

Gaurav Manchanda - The Organic World’s ‘Not In Our Aisle List’ includes commonly used ingredients such as trans-fat (found in commercially fried and baked products), phthalates, sulphates and parabens (found across beauty and personal care products), artificial colors and artificial flavorings (used across various food products) and high fructose corn syrup (a common sweetener), among others.

Several studies have suggested that these ingredients could have harmful health effects., Carrageenan (found in cottage cheese and vegan dairy substitutes) has possibly been linked to intestinal ulcers, while parabens (found in shampoos, lotions and makeup) could increase the chances of hormone disruption in users.

But when you read the ingredients label on most conventional groceries, you will likely see these chemicals and ingredients listed there. While there will continue to be claims and counter-claims, at The Organic World, we decided to take a stand and offer consumers groceries that we truly believe are the better choice for them. With our industry-first ‘Not In Our Aisle List’, we have set our own benchmark, which is higher than the industry-established ones, to offer Indian consumers products that are truly good for them.

FTB – What drives you to invest in early-stage startups?

Gaurav Manchanda - We believe in working and supporting brands who share our vision to offer ‘better choices’ to our customers, who understand the importance of our Not In Our Aisle List and willingly conform to that. We work with several local ‘Better For You’ brands, SMEs, and women entrepreneurs and give them a strong omni-channel platform to compete against the big box retailers. It is heartening to note that we have had several brands change their product formulation, obtain the necessary certification etc to conform to our standards and be part of our offering. This, in a sense, is a validation of our mission and the trust they have shown in our goal plays a key role in the true synergy between brands and retailers.

FTB – What measure do you take to bring down the cost of organic products?

Gaurav Manchanda - Compared to non-organic products, the average premium for organic products is typically 1.30x. And this is not just the case with The Organic World. Given the higher quality of ingredients involved in the manufacturing processes, which often demand labor-intensive, time-consuming processes, the cost of organic products is bound to be higher.

However, the good news is that the premium comes down considerably as more players enter the market and the industry gets more organized. The organic fruits and vegetables at The Organic World, for instance, are among the lowest priced in the city as compared to other organic fruits and vegetable brands.

We are constantly looking for ways to offer consumers the best price options to make the switch to chemical-free living accessible and affordable for more people.

FTB - How do you see the growth of The Organic World in the future?

Gaurav Manchanda - The future certainly looks promising. Currently, The Organic World has 13 retail stores in Bengaluru. We will be launching more stores in key catchment areas across the city and expanding our footprint in South India. Given the growing interest of entrepreneurs looking to set up franchise-owned stores, particularly in tier 2 cities, we are excited to explore the viability of adopting the franchisee route to fuel our long-term Pan-India expansion plans.

We are also looking forward to enhanced eCommerce operations, courtesy of our refurbished website offering a seamless shopping experience and The Organic World app, which is the most convenient and hassle-free way to shop on our platform.

In terms of our product portfolio, we plan to increase the offerings under our in-house labels. Wellbe Foods, which offers a range of healthy alternatives, is all set to foray into the home care, dairy, and personal care segment. The Organic World will also be expanding its organic farm network to give Indian customers better access to a broader basket of organic fruits and vegetables.

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