India focus: Local baby food brand seeking to fill organic gap in home market
Founder Priyanka Shetty Sridhar told NutraIngredients-Asia that the year-old company has been seeing steady sales growth, with monthly figures at around US$11,500 (₹800,000) and an annual turnover of US$431,290 (₹30,000,000).
"Currently, the brand's highest online sales come through Amazon India, followed by FirstCry.com (an online children's store). However, we plan to direct most of our sales to our new website, which we will launch by the end of March."
Sridhar, who previously headed the paediatric division at global nutraceutical firm British Biologicals, started Mimmo after realising there was a serious lack of such products in India.
She said: "In India, there are very limited food options for babies and toddlers. When I had my son about two years back, I realised we had barely any kind of suitable foods beyond milk-based porridges.
"There were no snacks in the market that were suitable for infants at the weaning or teething stage, or foods that would help introduce the concept of texture to a young child just starting on solids, and home-made food cannot meet these needs."
She decided to go down the organic route to produce foods that would help with teething, introduce food textures and tastes, and provide appropriate nutrition for infants, toddlers and young children up to the age of six.
She also found that the technology required to make these products gave her the option of developing preservative-free products.
"'Organic' is a word that's thrown around a lot in India, but in the baby food space, we're bringing change to how it's perceived.
"When we say our products are 'certified organic', it's not just a gimmick — they are as stated on the labels: free from pesticides, synthetic fertilisers, preservatives and GMOs."
So far, the brand has launched a variety of pastas for children aged 10 months and older, as well as teething wafers. Called Tender Yums, the wafers are supposed to melt in the mouth, and are suitable for children as young as seven months old.
The ingredients used in these products include ragi, millets, buckwheat and whole wheat.
Mimmo's products, which are made in Europe with the help of third-party manufacturers and sold in India, meet EU- and US-quality organic standard grade marks, and are accredited by the USDA, EU Organic and India Organic as 100% certified organic.
Part of the reason behind working with European companies, Sridhar said, was that obtaining certain ingredients — such as organic blueberry, which is used Tender Yums — had proven to be a huge challenge in India.
Distribution and development
Sridhar emphasised the brand's selectiveness in distribution channels, saying: "We're very strategic in choosing our channels, especially offline. India is so large that distribution must be selective, especially for organic products.
"We are in most of the premium outlets — we chose five metro cities in India (in Delhi and Bangalore) and made sure we were in the top premium retail outlets, like Nature's Basket, as well as mother and baby speciality stores, which few cities in India have.
"We're also in organic stores. Where I'm from in Bangalore, there are many such stores that cater to premium customers. That's where we are now, and we've gotten very good response."
Before entering these stores, however, Mimmo began selling online, through its own website and other popular sites like Amazon and BabyChakra, India's largest parenting platform.
Next, the brand will be launching Supa Joos, a children's powdered drink in sachet format made from a mixture of fruits and vegetables.
It is also in the midst of developing an organic baby cereal range for children aged six months and above, and plans to enter the wellness category for toddlers and young children this year.
Expansion-wise, the brand's focus remains on India for now, though it does have overseas expansion plans that will come into play once it is more established in its home market.
"Right now, we are not focusing on exports, although we are looking at the UAE and Sri Lanka for next year. Our goal is to launch more products and build a strong brand in India before moving onto other countries.
"If we do see sufficient interest from a particular country, we'd be more than happy to explore that. But in the APAC region, we are less likely to launch in countries like Singapore and Malaysia, where a wide variety of food products for babies and toddlers are already easily available."