Should the global population reach 9.6 billion by 2050, the equivalent of almost three planets could be required to provide the natural resources needed to sustain current lifestyles, according to the United Nations (UN). In order to encourage responsible consumption and production, a UN Sustainable Development Goal, businesses today are taking active measures, particularly in the retail industry.
As one of India’s leading ‘responsible retailers’, The Organic World, an organic and natural groceries retailer, has set new industry benchmarks and taken key business decisions to benefit all stakeholders within the retail ecosystem. “The Organic World was launched (in 2014) with the goal of making today’s consumers aware of the compromise they normalise when they choose chemically grown and processed food and lifestyle products,” says Gaurav Manchanda, Founder, and Managing Director, The Organic World, a part of the Nimida Group.
Currently, the full-basket grocer offers over 2000+ organic and natural products, free of chemicals and preservatives, across a bouquet of trusted brands under one roof. The Bengaluru-based company’s goal is to enable and empower better choices across the daily and monthly consumption basket for Indian families.
At The Organic World, fruits and vegetables are sourced from organic farms, where they are grown using sustainable and organic farming practices, with zero usage of chemical pesticides or chemical fertilisers. The company also has two in-house brands – Wellbe Foods and Happy Harvest Farms – which offer a wide range of organic and natural staples, health and wellness essentials, snacks, breakfast cereals, and more.
“For all other product categories, we partner with brands who share our vision for facilitating chemical- and preservative-free better choices,” says Manchanda. One of the major differentiators, he notes, is that their products live up to a higher standard than industry-established ones. The Organic World’s ‘Not In Our Aisle List’ features 25 (and expanding) ingredients/chemicals that are banned from their stores.
These include common ingredients such as trans-fat and palm oil (found in commercially fried and baked products), phthalates, sulfates, and parabens (found across beauty and personal care products), artificial flavourings and artificial colours (found in a range of food products), and high fructose corn syrup (a common sweetener), among others.
“One of the biggest impacts of the ‘Not In Our Aisle List’ has been several brands modifying their approach to products and processes to partner with us,” affirms Manchanda. “We have also been successful in empowering traditional farmer communities to see the value in environment-friendly, sustainable farming practices. Interestingly, we do not trash our fruit and vegetable dump. It is sent back to our farms where it is used as organic fodder for the cattle,” he adds.
In today’s omnichannel environment, retail stores play an important role in inspiring and facilitating consumers to make better choices. Sustainable design principles, which impact the choice of materials, focus on natural lighting, and conscious energy consumption, reflect across The Organic World stores. “At the experience level, our passion for better choices translates into a small but growing zero-waste section across our stores, plastic collection services, as well as sustainable packaging options,” explains the serial entrepreneur.
“We are always measuring our progress, setting new goals, and innovating,” he notes. At the farming and sourcing level, the company is already aligned with sustainable farming practices. The plan is to leverage technology to further optimise these practices as well as strengthen the supply chain, along with accurate demand prediction and intelligent logistics, to reduce the company’s carbon footprint.
Currently, 60% of the company’s fleet is electric vehicles; the aim is to take this to 100% over the next few years. Establishing blockchain technology, with a focus on end-to-end traceability, is another top priority. The future plans entail expanding the store footprint in Bengaluru and other South Indian markets as well as augmenting the in-house offerings across product categories.
Apart from The Organic World, key businesses under the Nimida Group include Nimida Capital (prioritising investments in social impact projects, sports tech, health and wellness, and consumer retail) and Nimida Sports (owner of the popular football club FC Bengaluru United; encouraging sporting talent via a grassroots structure in cricket, football, basketball, hockey, and Ultimate Frisbee). “We have adopted a strategic approach to making a positive impact and facilitating better choices. We are currently focussed on a few core areas to create a better tomorrow,” says Manchanda.