They were developed under its FMCG brand, Earthspired, and are available in 200g packs on Amazon, BigBacket and Earthspired online site.
The millets, also known as ‘nutri-cereals or wonder seeds’ were formulated to provide more nutritious and healthy options, along with the convenience of preparation and use.
Upma is a multigrain mix of foxtail millets, bengal gram and spices which are high in complex carbohydrates, dietary fibres and proteins. It makes for a nutritious breakfast or snack option, the company said.
Khichdi is a mix of little millets, legumes and spices which are high in complex carbohydrates, dietary fibres, iron and proteins, which makes for a wholesome meal.
Other essential micronutrients present are magnesium, phosphorus and calcium.
Both products are gluten free and retail for Rs.90 (Upma), and Rs.100 (Khichdi).
The shelf life of the packaged product is nine months in Indian weather conditions.
Clean label trend
Iksha Chhabra, head of business at Earthspired, Mrida Group said consumers were becoming more educated on the benefits of healthier choices resulting in a growing trend for clean labels and ‘better for you’ offerings among Indian consumers.
She said the trend was not only limited to snacks, “but also wholesome, healthier, ready-to-cook meals using less or no artificial/chemical ingredients, more natural or organic, and catering to specific dietary needs.”
Reflecting the global trend of clean label in food, especially in the area of fortification, Chhabra explained there was a need for healthy food without fortification.
She said: “Chemical fortificants are generally added to the processed foods to make them more enriched with vitamins or minerals.
“However, these chemical fortificants may not be necessarily be healthy in foods as the body readily absorbs only naturally present vitamins or minerals.
“Thus, it is important that more healthy choices are made using natural ingredients rich in essential nutrients and vitamins,” she added.
Chhabra also noticed a change in lifestyles and working patterns, adding, “In today’s day and age, we focus more on ready to cook offerings that add convenience to our daily lives.”
The millet products are pre-processed to provide convenience of cooking, she said.
Chhabra also shared that the Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability (LOHAS) segment is growing rapidly and is a driving force for ‘cleaner’ labels with high ethical values.
She said consumers have begun to give equal importance to the quality and source of ingredients used in foods.
“Consumers today are reading the contents on the back of their food packages more than ever. They try to understand a product’s origin story, its sustainability efforts and its social consciousness,” she observed.
According to Chhabra, the Earthspired brand represents a “healthy”, “wholesome” and “straight from Rural India” business.
Chhabra said the millets were responsibly sourced from small and marginal farmers at Uttarakhand in India.
The millets are then dry roasted along with other ingredients such as legumes, herbs and spices.
She added that Mrida Group supports these famers by facilitating market linkages, leading to higher levels of disposable incomes, and sustainable livelihoods.
They also engage underserved individuals and communities at different levels of the value chain.
For instance, roasting, processing and packaging for the Earthspired Quick Cook n’ Serve range is carried out in a facility that supports women’s’ groups.
New product line
The company aims to scale up the business to the next level, one of which is launching its ‘Mrida Market Place’, an e-commerce platform catering to health and wellness and sustainable lifestyle products.
Chhabra shared that the company is currently working on a new product line, which is a mix of herbal extracts in a functional or tasteful form, which can be consumed separately, or together with regular foods.
According to her, the herbal product will provide a range of enhanced health benefits, while fitting into the “free from chemicals and additives” food category with responsibly sourced ingredients.
Earthspired also have a range of healthy flours (e.g. gluten free, high protein, special unrefined multi grain for diabetes), and gluten free cookies.