Fabindia to sell organic produce online
NEW DELHI: You may soon be able to buy organic fruits and vegetables at the price of regular produce or even less. Ethnic lifestyle retailer Fabindia, known for its apparel and furniture, is now preparing to sell organic fruits and vegetables online. Plans are afoot to establish a supply chain that can deliver fresh produce directly from farmers to households by cutting off middlemen.
A study commissioned by Fabindia shows that by the time some items such as chilies and cauliflowers arrive at markets in Delhi, their prices go up by around 100% or more. For instance, a kilogram of carrots that a farmer sells for around Rs 27 is marked up to Rs 60 at Azadpur Sabzi Mandi and Rs 80 when it finally reaches INA Market in Delhi.
Fabindia MD William Bissell said there is a growing concern among the Indian middle-class about food contamination. "There is no control over water contamination, excessive use of herbicide and the way vegetables are processed. I have seen bananas being ripened with gas. Organic farming provides an opportunity to reduce food arbitrage by around 30% or more," he said.
If Fabindia's plan pulls through, Bissell could successfully tap into the unorganized yet highly lucrative organic-food market where consumers are willing to pay extra for anything with the word "organic" printed on it. At present, there are only a handful of small players such as I Say Organic and Organic Garden that sell organic fruits and vegetables online, while other players such as Ecotokri and Natural Mantra mainly sell finished products such as packed quinoa seeds, honey and cosmetics among others. Premium food retail chains such as Godrej Nature's Basket stocks organic food brands like Navdanya and 24 Mantra.
In 2013, Fabindia had acquired a 40% stake in Organic India, a Lucknow-based organic food and supplements firm and the maker of Tulsi Tea.