During the lockdown, staying home and eating healthy are two main mantras. While spending more time at home, we make more trips to the kitchen, searching for tasty treats. To ward off infection, one should increase immunity by selectively eating healthy foods. While it seems justifiable to eat as a source of comfort or distraction, snacking more than usual, coupled with less exercise, can lead to weight gain and health issues. Analyzing habits and behaviors around food and learning to recognize your triggers can help in making healthier choices.
Healthy cereals and granolas
The pandemic has become an eye-opener for everyone. According to several reports, the change in eating patterns and lifestyles, for maintaining high immunity will become a part of the new normal. Mumbai-based Soch Foods’s founder and chief executive officer, Rohit Pugalia, states that today’s consumers have become health conscious and have started preferring hygienically processed food.
Founded in 2016, Soch Foods is a manufacturer of granola cereals, under the brand name Munchilicious. Starting from the kitchen-based passion of co-founder Purvi Pugalia, it has made its way into more than 300 outlets across India, including modern retail platforms like Nature’s Basket, Spencers, and Aditya Birla Retail.
According to Pugalia, Munchilicious Granola combines three essential pillars – health, quality, and taste. It is available in five variants (Original, Dried Fruits, Dark Chocolate, Grain-Free, and Desi Twist) and across breakfast and snacking categories with 40 to 90% nuts and seeds and fruits. Variants include no added sugar and oil, gluten-free, and vegan offerings. Designed for the Indian palate, the granolas have the essential nutrients that help boost immunity.
Product safety and quality
“We are following strict guidelines as shared by the World Health Organization and are maintaining and following all safety and sanitization practices,” Pugalia adds. Soch Foods products are lab tested and certified by TUV SUD (TUV – are German businesses that offer inspection
and product certification services). “We have implemented ISO 22000 – Food Safety Management System in our production and packaging plant and currently are implementing FSSC 22000.”
Today, when social distancing and self-quarantine practices have become the new normal, consumers are stocking non-perishable food items, including breakfast cereals, increasing the demand for eat-at-home like cereals and healthy food. Meanwhile, there is a change observed in the production pattern by companies based on consumer demand. Companies are focusing on their business continuity and ensuring that they have sufficient ingredients, workforce, and logistic support.
Soch Foods was among the manufacturers who faced challenges initially in the availability of raw material and logistics partners. “We are ensuring that these challenges do not affect our business, especially in such a situation where our customers want to make bulk purchases,” says Pugalia.
He explains the marketing approach of the company, “As a channel strategy, our focus is to create awareness through online mediums and multiple eCommerce platforms while also focusing on building a strong offline distribution network to increase availability far and wide. In engaging our customers via a digital medium, we create interactive and informative campaigns on healthy and guilt-free eating. We have tied up with nutritionists and dieticians to curate an immunity-boosting diet chart for our consumers to help them stay fit.” Pugalia believes that these activities will help in gaining customer’s trust and eventually lead to an increase in demand.
50% hike in demand
During the pandemic, Soch Foods has observed a 50% hike in demand for its products. The buzz around eating healthy and boosting one’s immunity, non-dependence on restaurants, and outside eating could be the possible reasons for the increased demand, according to Pugalia. “The reduced availability of ready-to-eat food products has also driven the demand for Munchilicious.” While demand might plateau eventually, he believes, “Consumers who have started consuming our product because of the lockdown will continue purchasing it.”
“Along with adding products to the portfolio, we are looking for expansion across India and overseas in the markets of Singapore, Africa, Gulf countries. We plan further to expand our reach to Europe and the United States,” he concludes.