Newly-launched UAE organic food e-commerce site seeks to become region’s biggest
Founder and CEO Manu Mahdi said the e-commerce site already carried almost 2,000 products, and will be crossing 3,000 in a month’s time.
“Our target is to reach more than 15,000 products by the end of the year, which would be one of the largest stores carrying exclusively organic range of products,” Manu told FoodNavigator-Asia.
“Our focus will be specialising in getting anything under the healthy organic label and listing it on our website, targeting to be the No. 1 in the region for choice and variety in organic food options.”
O&R’s current range includes everyday fruit, vegetables, grains, pulses, meat, poultry, eggs, cereals, breads, oils, nuts, dairy products, juices and “everything else”.
“Any food item you need, we will try to source it in certified organic and healthy form,” he said.
According to Manu, currently, the top food products that are highly searched for on O&R and which move faster include baby food products, fresh produce such as fruit and vegetables, organic honey, and dates.
“The vegan trend is quickly catching on and there is a high demand for vegan alternatives for dairy and meat products. We are getting very interesting options of vegan cheese and vegan burgers, which will be launched soon with Organic & Real,” he added.
Manu said the site worked with local farmers and distributors to list their products as well as invest heavily in marketing to create awareness of the need to switch to good food.
“We have already tied up with most of the local farmers supporting them to promote their products. We also import from other countries to offer wider varieties of organic options to our customers,” he said.
The main challenge the business faces is the shelf life of perishable fresh fruit and vegetables. As these are natural and organically farmed, they are not treated with chemicals to stay fresh for a longer period of time, which may therefore result in them spoiling faster than non-organic ones.
However, Manu said the key was to manage the forecasting as accurately as possible in order not to have too much spoilage and wastage.
Manu said, in the short time since its launch, O&R has already crossed a few thousands users “who are actively engaging with our platform and our social media handles”.
“The response so far has been extremely encouraging. What we realised is that more and more people are now aware of the harmful impact of the industrially-produced or processed food products and have been on the lookout for someone to take a serious role in the supply of organic food,” he said.
The mobile version of O&R will be completed soon, by mid-August.
Pricing and delivery
Manu said O&R delivers to “all over UAE” by using specialist third-party logistics partners.
While there is no minimum order value for customers, there are delivery charges based on the value of the orders. This ranges from AED 30 for orders up to AED 100, to AED 10 for orders between AED 200 to 250. Orders above AED 250 have free delivery.
While he admitted that it was true that the price for organic products was still high, he said the perception that organic food is not affordable is something they are working on correcting by providing comparisons with conventional foods.
“O&R’s vision is to make organic products affordable to the masses and thereby help in developing a healthy society,” he said.
“Hence, our pricing strategy is to make our offers affordable for the people to buy and continue (to do so) sustainably. We keep our prices at par with the competition, if not lower.”
Manu said O&R’s target is to expand to 20 countries within five years, with the main focus on “Asia and India markets”.
“Our target is to expand to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and one state in India by the second year, and to the rest of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and more states in India by the third year of our operations,” he said.
To support these expansion plans, O&R will hold round one of its private equity funding before its second year.
It will also introduce its own organic food brand.