Indian fruit major Freshtrop to break out into cold-extracted juices

By Richard Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

Indian fruit major Freshtrop to break out into cold-extracted juices

Related tags: India, Juice

After 25 years of supplying fresh fruits to supermarkets in Europe, Japan and North America, India’s Freshtrop will move into cold-extracted beverages this year with a new brand, Second Nature.

The Bombay Stock Exchange-listed Maharashtra company will use some of its infrastructure to build the brand under Dipti Motiani, who heads the processing side of the business.

The range of fruit and vegetable, nectars and dairy-free nut milks will be available across Indian metros in 2019, joining a small but growing number of cold-pressed beverage firms.

In India, there aren’t too many players in the cold extracted segment yet. But we feel that India is a really large market that’s growing. In order to create a category you need multiple players. It’s not too over-crowded yet​,” said Motiani.

Cold-pressed vs cold-extracted

The established brands include RAW Pressery, one of the market leaders since 2013 and now with 18 juices. Last year the Mumbai company announced an injection of around US$10m from investors including Silicon Valley’s Sequoia Partners and Indian venture capitalist Saama Capital.

Other cold-pressed juice brands include Just Pressed and MyGreens, of Delhi, and Mumbai-based Juicifix.

Unlike most of its competitors, though, Second Nature will not produce cold-pressed juices. Instead, it will focus on the process of cold-extraction.

By gently extracting juice and pulp in a vacuum, the system sets out to prevent oxidation and the loss of natural flavours. In contrast, cold-pressed juices are extracted using pressure in open atmospheric conditions, causing fibre loss and oxidation, Motiani claims.

We all know that there is bacteria in the air and there is dust around farms. Second Nature uses the latest high-pressure processing technology to address this by respecting the ingredients and ensuring retention of the nutrition and original flavour of the fruits, vegetables and nuts​,” she said.

Quality over quantity

Second Nature also intends to engage some of the processes and technologies used by its fresh fruits parent. Nashik-based Freshtrop was established in 1992 and is led by Motiani’s father as managing director. Its core activities lie in harvest management and since 2009 has been involved in fruit processing.

Dipti Motiani Founder and chief product officer of Second Nature
Dipti Motiani

We’ve learnt a lot and developed systems for processing. Two years ago we decided we’d like to look at the domestic market, and started thinking about how to grow our range​,” she said.

Freshtrop has always been positioned as a quality supplier, rather than one that trades in great volumes. We may not have the quantities that other suppliers have, but we do aspire to have the best quality in any product that we work in or supply​.”

It gets all its fruit and vegetables directly from local farmers, which would typically present a problem in India, where the cold chain and cold service management are “practically non-existent​”.

To mitigate difficulties, Second Nature works directly with growers, training them in the best farming practices and ensuring that the produce they grow meets stringent food safety standards. The brand has also brought in agronomists to teach growers how to ensure that fruits they grow are harvested at exactly the right time. They are then shipped to Second Nature’s factory within hours, where they are put into a temperature-controlled environment.

The plant currently has a capacity of about 36,000, 250ml bottles a day. Motiani estimates it will take three to four years before this capacity will be reached.

We will try to make it faster​,” she said. “At the same time we have been in the agriculture business for more than two decades, and are not in any kind of hurry.

We are self-funded and here for the long term, and we’re not going to create a brand that we will sell off for a profit. We are making sustainable a sustainable business and products that are second to natural​.”

Premium appeal

The brand founder intends to stress Freshtrop’s history of international exports and its approach to producing cold-extracted juices in an intensive marketing campaign before the brand’s full launch across Indian metros “in the next couple of months​”. A successful soft-launch took place in 2018.

When there are multiple players in a category, it does help the consumer to understand about the product. We will be launching an aggressive communications campaign across several media, with digital media being the key​,” she said.

The consumer will hopefully spend a bit of time reading about and understanding the product. It has to be a mix of outdoor communication, what we do on our digital medium, as well as point of sale and the product itself. It will centre on education of the customer​.”

The brand has spent recent months setting up its supply chain and building relationships with supply partners in Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Delhi. Distribution and supply chain is setting up in a manner that it can scale.

It will market in particular to young and middle-aged working consumers who are either “seeking purity​” or a healthy lifestyle. Modern retail will be central to the brand’s availability, though Second Nature has been investigating e-commerce and online marketplaces like Big Basket and Amazon as well as direct sales from its own website and subscription purchases.

Consumers will find the brand more expensive than other juices, largely because of the cost of maintaining a cold chain at below 5 degrees.

It could fall into the premium segment, but the experience of a consumer who is wanting a healthy lifestyle, makes a difference. A price of 200-250 rupees per bottle (US$2.80-3.50) is not going to put him off. It’s what we spend for a coffee​,” Motiani said.

Also, when there are subscriptions and bulk offers where we will be offering better prices as well. When the consumer knows how we are making the product, it closes the loop on the communication. Then price will not affect them, according to our research​.”

In the future Second Nature plans to expand its product range and sales radius to have a presence across India, and possibly overseas. Further down the line, Motiani envisages the brand producing a range of associated fruit and vegetable products, beyond beverages.

We aren’t just saying it, we have 35 years’ experience with working with fruits and vegetables and the most demanding supermarkets in Europe and America. We’re not just an organisation who decided to make juice because it’s handy, we really are doing this in the right way, by treating the farmers and the fruit in the right way​,” she stressed.

It’s one thing to say it, but when you actually do it, you can feel the difference in the product​.” 

Related topics: Business, Asian tastes, South Asia, Beverages

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