Seeds to snacks: Indian agricultural group Namdhari ventures into healthy snacks segment
Founded in 1985, the Namdhari Group started as a vegetable seed company (Namdhari Seeds) before growing fresh produce and other products (Namdhari Agro Fresh) for local and domestic distribution.
In 2000, it started a supermarket chain (Namdhari's Fresh), and an online grocery store (Simpli Namdharis) in 2018.
According to Navnath Pohkar, assistant manager of NPD, snack division at Namdhari Agro Fresh, Think Snack was a natural progression to offer ‘safe-to-consume yet guilt-free foods’.
“A lot of our ideas have to do with bridging a healthier lifestyle for customers. For instance, when we started salad bars in our supermarkets, it was innovative for our city back then.
“Think Snack is kind of an evolution of that, we wanted to bring a healthier way of snacking because not everyone wants to eat fried chips and calorie-rich snacks.”
Among some of the products developed by Think Snack include vegetable and fruit chips, brown rice chips, popcorn, and makhana (lotus seeds). These are either baked, air-fried or vacuum fried, which tend to be lower in fat than regular snacks.
Vacuum fried is a process of cooking foods using air pressure and oil but at a lower temperature compared to typical frying, and for a longer time.
Think Snack offerings are also gluten-free, non GMO, artificial and preservative-free. “Think Snack is our endeavour to craft munchies that satisfy those sudden, in-between-meals snack cravings, but without making it difficult to choose between delicious and healthy.”
The snacks will be sold in more than 30 Namdhari's Fresh stores in Bengaluru city, and Simpli Namdharis. It is also in the process of listing on e-commerce sites such as Flipkart and Amazon.
At its online and offline supermarkets, Namdhari grows some of the fresh produce at its own production centres, and stocks other products from both local and imported brands.
New market, new opportunities
The healthy snacks market in India is relatively new, unlike places like Australia, US or Europe.
“There is lots of opportunities now in India because of COVID-19, people are becoming more aware of their health and what they put in their diet,” Pohkar told FoodNavigator-Asia.
While most of the healthy snacks available in India are imported, many more local brands are coming out with products of their own.
Currently, with only a presence in Bengaluru, the firm is planning on expanding the supermarket business in South India.
“We also have plans to export to major cities like Dubai, UK, and Singapore next year,” Pohkar said.
Beyond healthy snacks, the company is exploring development in other categories such as drinks.