The Covid-19 pandemic hit global economies adversely - Many industries took a heavy blow on their operations and a large number of companies shut-shop due to the lockdown. However, owing to the health benefits of organic foods, the consumption levels are believed to have increased. With the absence of the vaccine in 2020, people recognized immunity as ammunition against coronavirus. This contributed immensely to the growth of the organic food industry across the globe.
Organic food is priced slightly higher than conventionally produced food. However, it is interesting to know that due to the raised awareness about the health benefits of these products, esp. in the Covid-19 era, consumers are not shying away from shelling a little extra for organically produced food. The return of ‘home-made’ healthy food has also contributed towards the consumption growth.
As we see a responsible shift in the consumption patterns from non-organic to organic, this has been an opportunity for many startups to enter the organic food space. In India, the second wave of Covid-19 in 2021 is stronger than in 2020 and the number of cases is a record high, however, according to the data observed by ASSOCHAM, the Indian organic food market is going to grow by 40,000 million to 10,0000–1,20,000 million in 2021.
In Rajasthan alone, at least 91 percent of organic sellers and 89 percent of consumers have confirmed that there has been substantial growth in both sale and consumption of organic products during the pandemic, according to a survey by CUTS International. There are several factors responsible for this growth like greater awareness, ease of access through e-commerce, innovation, and rise of exports.
With the greater penetration of smartphones and access to the Internet, awareness about the goodness of organic produce is on the rise. This has also helped increase the consumption in Tier II and III cities in India. Especially in the pandemic, the awareness about the benefits of organic products has increased manifold. Many people have switched to an organic lifestyle as a preventive measure.
E-commerce and e-tail marketplaces have made it easier for homegrown organic product brands to sell their products online and reach a wider audience. With a strong logistical network and user base, marketplaces like Amazon and Flipkart are perfect to launch and sell organic products. Apart from these, tech startups like Grofers, Big Bazaar, and Swiggy are helping the offline stores reach the last mile during the lockdown. The convenience of such services contributes immensely towards the growth of organic food startups.
Startups are now innovating with their offerings to ease the consumption of herbs, superfoods, beverages, and botanicals. From organic tea to Ashwagandha capsules and organic beetroot powder, there are a plethora of innovative offerings.
India being an agricultural country, has been exporting food to the rest of the world. During 2020, the country exported 6.38 lakh tonnes (lt) of organic food products valued at âÂÂ¹4,685.90 crores in 2019-20. The startups are taking leverage of the growing number of export of organic food from India.
A study printed in the book ‘Predictive and Preventive Measures for Covid-19 Pandemic’ estimated that even though Covid-19 brought an economic slowdown of −3% in the world but the organic industry clocked in a robust growth from 25 to 100% in 2020. In India, online retailers are witnessing 100% growth in their sales during the same period. Several reasons are contributing to the growth of the organic food industry. Apart from building immunity, people realized that preventive care helps in saving money spent on medical bills later.
(The writer is the founder of Naturevibe Botanicals. Views expressed are personal)