Mumbai-based Storia Foods is a two-year-old company with a vision to drive innovation across food and beverage categories for creating value and inspiring a healthier lifestyle. “The idea behind starting Storia was to come into categories that already exist and to disrupt them with better options,” says Vishal Shah, founder and managing director, Storia Foods. Spread across 38 cities in India with 50,000 retail outlets, Storia aims to increase its retail presence to 1 lakh outlets by 2020 with a wider product portfolio. Its product range includes shakes, 100% natural packaged coconut water, beverage whitener and street-style juices.
Coconut water – Storia’s fastest growing segment
Storia launched its first product, 100% natural packaged coconut water, in April 2017 and at present, it is the fastest growing segment of Storia. Shah explains, “The idea to start packaged coconut water was to come up with a product that is convenient, sustainable, affordable and available throughout the year. It is 100% natural and contains no added sugar, flavor or preservatives. We offer two different variants in packaged coconut water – 100% natural coconut water in a Tetrapak (Rs 40) and a PET bottle (Rs 25).” To maintain a smooth supply of coconuts throughout the year, Storia grows its own coconuts with contract farming in South India.
Storia’s product portfolio also includes nine variants of shakes – three are fruit-based (mango, strawberry and banana); three are Indian (kesar, rose and badam); two international flavors (coffee and chocolate); and the ninth is elaichi chai shake. Beverage whitener, the base for Storia shakes, is spray-dried, trans-fat free milk with added unsaturated fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6). Explaining the formulation of shakes, Shah says, “We do not use milk in shakes at all; shakes are made up of beverage whitener, and that’s why they are trans-fat and cholesterol free. Aseptic packaging of shakes makes them last over six months without refrigeration. Shakes are healthier alternatives to flavored milk because they contain milk substitute with fruit that gives the goodness of milk and the taste of fruit.”
Storia has recently launched street-style drinks in eight different flavors which contain fruits and a zing of spices. These include tomato pepper, green mango masala, pani puri, watermelon masala, mosambi masala, pomegranate masala, pineapple masala and guava chilli.
Food safety, quality and innovation – aseptic PET
Storia claims to be a staunch believer in innovation – not only in terms of product but also in terms of technology, packaging, processing and retail distribution. Shah adds, “Storia also has an in-house innovation center equipped with an aseptic PET lab where we invite research scholars and PhD students to innovate new products. Storia is one of the only two companies to have aseptic PET technology in India today.” The company uses aseptic packaging technology for its beverage products to minimize nutritional losses, retain flavor and taste and to make them shelf-stable for over six months without refrigeration.
On quality and food safety, he further says, “Storia has all the necessary certifications to ensure safety and high-quality products for consumers. Our manufacturing standards comply with Food Safety System Certification (FSSC) 22000 and Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) principles. In addition to this, we are Star-K Kosher certified and Halal certified from MUI (The Indonesian Council of Ulama-Halal).”
FSSAI has recently come up with a draft on labelling regulations. Commenting on the agitation created by these regulations among the food and beverage industry stakeholders, Shah says, “We started with market surveys to check the gaps in the food industry as well as to find emerging segments in the industry that are bound to grow in the next 8-10 years, and we tried to come up with innovations within that. Fortunately, because we know the trend for coming years and our products meet all of these guidelines, we will not come under any major scrutiny of these.”
“When the consumer sees Storia caring about their health and wellness compared to other brands, we will get a much stronger base for brand acceptability,” Shah continues.
Distribution, export and the future roadmap
For distribution Storia works in two channels – one works on trade including kirana stores and the other channel includes institutions, schools, colleges, hospitals, corporates, HoReCa and modern trade (Nature’s Basket, KBRL and Spencers). Shah mentions that Storia recently started an eCommerce platform as well, where the company has tied up with Bigbasket in six cities.
Commenting on Storia’s export beginnings, Shah says, “We feel India itself is a big market. We have presence in more than 38 cities including metros, Tier-1 and -2 cities. However, we have started export to Myanmar, Burma and we are almost ready to export to the US and UAE.
“Storia plans to disrupt the current food system by launching new products in the next five years within the same categories but with differentiation of value. We are planning to enter the food core very soon. There are already a lot of products that are up in our pipeline; we are only waiting for the right time to introduce these categories.”