In a series of interviews with market leaders, influencers, and entrepreneurs, we bring our next interview with Mr Anay Tripathi, CEO and Founder of Natural Foods Startup Pali Farms.
Let’s dive in to go through the interview:
Q. Tell us something about yourself? How did you start this journey? Why did you choose this specific superfood niche?
Ans: I would describe myself as a simple, easy-going and a creative individual who staunchly believes in karma. I am in love with music, graphic designing and photography.
I was born in Gorakhpur, brought up in Delhi NCR, studied engineering and worked with TCS for 3 years. I started my entrepreneurial journey in an effort to save a rare, ancient and aromatic variety of rice called Kalanamak from extinction. This rice was once the most popular and prestigious rice of Eastern Uttar Pradesh and my grandfather and father’s favourite.
I created Pali Farms to promote this rice and make it available online to urban consumers. It was more of a social cause to me. Now, I am working on creating a wide range of indigenous superfoods.
I chose this because I witnessed the use of traditional superfoods in rural pockets in and around Gorakhpur and I was astonished to learn their health benefits. It made sense for me to bring it to the urban population.
The larger vision is to revive the ancient Indian wisdom of traditional foods, herbs & spices and nutritional habits.
Q. Current generation is completely losing their trust in ancient foods. How do you plan to attract them?
Ans: In fact, I think it’s quite the opposite. The ancient system of beliefs and practices (including food and eating habits, yoga and meditation) are on a revival as they seem to have the potential to improve the overall health and wellbeing of an individual.
Unhealthy food habits are one of the major causes of the drastic increase in heart diseases, strokes, diabetes and obesity.
I don’t have to particularly work hard to attract consumers to ancient superfoods because I think that there is enough awareness about the ill effects of processed/junk foods amongst people and a large section of the urban population is willing to switch to natural and traditional foods.
There is already a rising affinity for indigenous foods such as Turmeric, Jaggery, Ghee, Jowar, bajra, ragi etc
Also, the recent outbreak of the COVID pandemic has instilled people’s faith in traditional and Ayurvedic herbs and remedies.
“Haldi doodh” that we have been drinking for ages has been recently rediscovered as Turmeric Latte and is the new rage not only in India but in the West too.
There is no doubt in my mind that this is the best time to be working with Ancient Superfoods.
Q. How do you get the raw materials? Any agreement with farmers or you produce it by yourself?
Ans: We believe in the Prime Minister’s vision of AtmaNirbhar Bharat. All the raw materials that go into making our products are grown in India.
We also believe in collaborations that benefit not just one person/organisation but everyone associated with it.
There are a few items that we grow ourselves but most of the items are procured through a network of marginal farmers. Buying directly from farmers ensures that we get the highest quality products and on the other hand the farmers also get the fair market price as there is no middle man.
We provide training and support to farmers, most of whom are rural smallholders in eastern Uttar Pradesh. We have also employed family members of the farmers for tasks like quality checks and packaging to help them with extra income.
Q. What are your marketing strategies to reach the right audience?
Ans: Currently we are just selling our products online through our website and other e-commerce platforms like Amazon and Flipkart.
We are trying to reach our audience through Social Media platforms like Instagram and Facebook. We are also trying to tag in influencers from the food and fitness domains to review and spread awareness about our products.
Also, we are taking part in food/cultural exhibitions in Delhi NCR to gain visibility and connect with our audience.
Q. Buddha rice seems to be your signature product. Can you tell us something about it?
Ans: Buddha Rice is a rare, ancient and aromatic rice variety from the land of Land Buddha: Kapilvastu (currently Siddharthnagar district, Uttar Pradesh, India). The aroma of this rice is said to be a gift of Lord Buddha.
Popularly known as Kalanamak Rice in Northern India, it is one of the rarest scented rice of India with its distinctive short grain and unique black husk, which derives its name (‘Kala’ in the Hindi language means black).
The Glycemic Index (GI) is around 50 for Kalanamak, making it Diabetes-friendly rice. Foods with a low GI value (55 or less) are more slowly digested causing a lower and slower rise in blood glucose.
Kalanamak’s cultivation dates back to 600 BC and grains similar to Kalanamak have been excavated at Aligarhwa, Siddharthnagar – identified as the territory of Buddha’s father, King Shuddodhan.
Fa-Hsein, a Chinese Buddhist monk who travelled to India in the 5th Century BC in search of the Buddhist texts, notes in his travelogues that when Gautama Buddha visited Kapilvastu for the first time after attaining ‘enlightenment’, he was stopped by villagers who asked him for ‘prasad’. Lord Buddha blessed the villagers of Kapilvastu with grains of Kalanamak, asking them to sow it in a marshy place.
“The rice will have a typical aroma which will always remind people of me,” he said.
This rice variety, if sown elsewhere, loses its aroma and quality.
Kalanamak Rice was awarded the Geographical Indication (GI) tag in 2013 to define its extremely limited geographical area of origin stretching roughly 64 km along the Indo-Nepal border.
Q. Tell us about your other products, How is it different from others? Differentiate yourself from the competitors.
Ans: Our featured products are our signature Superfood Lattes that come in three flavours: Turmeric, Beetroot and Spinach.
These blends are a mix of superfoods and vitality enhancing spices, which are completely caffeine-free and improve immunity and overall well being.
Our lattes are a perfect drink to fuel every part of your day. An ideal breakfast drink to kickstart your mornings with energy and clarity, a fun evening beverage to enjoy with friends and family and a potent bedtime drink to help tackle anxiety and relieve fatigue built up due to the daily mundane chores.
We have recently launched Jaggery which is a healthier alternative to sugar. We have Jaggery in three different flavours – Ginger-Ashwagandha, Cardamom-Ashwagandha and Cocoa-Cinnamon. These Spiced Jaggeries provide added health benefits and great taste.
What differentiates us from the other brands is that our products are made by hand in tiny batches with ethically sourced ingredients. When you purchase a product from us, you can be safe in the knowledge that it has been made and packed with the utmost care.
Every product is a reflection of our small team that created it. You’re supporting real people who put their time, heart and soul into something they believe in.
Q. Recently, there is a trend about businesses talking about natural, and unique products, but most of them are misleading. What about your step by step process to deliver the right products?
Ans: I believe that if the intent is right the product is right! We endeavour to offer traditional Indian foods with a modern take. Products like Buddha Rice, Spiced Jaggery and Superfood Lattes are unique in their true sense.
We pride ourselves on sourcing the highest quality and unrefined ingredient irrespective of the cost. We don’t add any colour, fragrance or preservatives to any of our products.
Our products are handmade with love, in small batches to maintain quality and freshness. We take great care in their production to ensure that the ingredients are treated with respect and maintain their natural benefit.
We give back to the planet by using paper pouches and eco-friendly labels.
Q. What is the response from the targeted audience? Have you achieved any specific landmark till now? What is your future goal?
Ans: Response from our target audience is overwhelming. Our Super Lattes are loved by the younger crowd and our Jaggery is popular amongst all the age groups. Our rice seems to be more popular in South India as we get thrice as many orders than from the North.
We were invited by Shri Yogi Adityanath, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, to his office in Lucknow where he felicitated us for our work on Kalanamak Rice and discussed how the Government could make policies to promote this rare rice variety. We consider this as our greatest achievement so far.
Currently, we have export queries from Australia and Dubai for our lattes and jaggery. Hopefully, we’ll close a deal by next month.
Our future goal is to have a retail presence and work on setting up a distribution network.
9. Challenges are obvious when you run a business. What are the challenges you are facing and how you are addressing them?
Ans: Yes, launching a business comes with its fair share of challenges and struggles.
One of our biggest challenges is that we are trying to sell expensive short-grain rice, to a long grain rice loving audience.
Creating product awareness and educating customers about the products and their benefits is a tedious task.
Exhibitions provide the most amazing opportunity to interact with customers, have them taste your creations and get real-time feedback! Most of the people are generous and kind. If they truly love your stuff not only do they purchase your products but they get a lot of publicity done in their circle of family and friends. Therefore, we try to take part in as many exhibitions as possible.
Other challenges are common to most startups such as building a brand from the ground up, hiring the right people, innovating constantly and setting up a distribution network.
Persistence, patience and hard work is the key. But I also believe if you love what you do then everything works out eventually.