Organic powder sprinklers, beaded probiotic straws…India’s BodyFirst on functional foods bonanza and funding drive
The company has also set its sights on Series A funding after it closes its financial year in March next year, Sandeep Gupta, director, chief mentor, and strategic alliance founder at BodyFirst told NutraIngredients-Asia.
Gupta said COVID-19 has led to a heightened health awareness and increased uptake of dietary supplements. As such, the company has decided to launch functional foods which can deliver nutrition and are easily incorporated into consumers’ daily diet.
“Pre-pandemic, there was limited knowledge and usage of nutraceutical, though nutraceutical use has significantly increased [during the pandemic].
“Still, the larger section of the population will look for something that is easy to adopt in their daily habits, daily lifestyles. In such cases, functional foods and beverages are the right choice which they can use regularly,” Gupta said.
Prior to the launch of functional foods, the company had launched nutraceuticals such as ashwagandha and astaxanthin capsules, sports nutrition, and multivitamins.
From spice, herbs to nutra
One of the new launches is a range of organic powders that could be sprinkled on soups, smoothies, juices, and salads to improve their nutritional profile.
There are currently four SKUs to this range, namely tulsi, moringa, amla, and triphala powder, which are also commonly used in Indian cuisine as spices and herbs. For instance, amla is taken as a fruit, while tulsi is consumed as a vegetable.
“These are commonly known and used in India, but they are not available in the purest form, or organic form, or easily accessible form so that people can conveniently use it.
“Also, although these ingredients are known to the consumers, the benefits of such ingredients are not so much known to the common people. So, BodyFirst is trying to create an education awareness on the importance of such natural, organic ingredient which can be very beneficial if they use them regularly,” Gupta said.
In the case of moringa, he pointed out that it was a rich source of B-complex vitamins, helpful for maintaining immunity, haemoglobin levels and providing energy.
The recommended serving is about four to five sprinklers for each serving, according to Gupta.
Launched in September, the company is planning to add eight to 10 other SKUs under this range, including wheat grass sprinklers, pomegranate powder, and algae DHA powder, which will be launched by end March next year.
He said that the ingredients made into powder sprinklers were selected based on their physical and chemical properties.
“Generally, we will see the compatibility of these ingredients, from its physical to chemical properties, these will be technically tested and stabilised in all temperature to ensure that they do not lose their [nutritional] value,” he said, adding that the powder was sourced from Sumathi Organic, based in the south of India.
Breakfast and healthy snacks
Aside from sprinklers, the company also launched three other new products which could be consumed during breakfast and as healthy snacks.
They are protein and fibre enriched bars known as MyCrunch and protein-enriched peanut butter.
Launched in early October, each bar of MyCrunch contains 12 grams of protein and four grams of fibre and is targeted at the general population and children, and not just the gym-goers or athletes.
“It can be consumed at any time of the day, it can fill the gap between meals and provide you with satiety, so that you do not need to indulge in junk food and replace junk food with a healthy protein bar,” Gupta said.
Asked the level of acceptance of protein bars in India, he said there has been a spurt of such products and has in fact became “one of the fastest growing markets” in the country for healthy snacking.
“It is creating a wave in the market, today, India has seen a significant change in the habit of consuming nutrition and protein, I will say it is one of the fastest growing markets in India for adopting of good habits when it comes to snacking time,” he said, adding that the company would be adding new nutrients, alongside protein when developing new SKUs.
The company also launched a peanut butter which contains 10 grams of protein per 32 grams of peanut butter.
He explained that such product has been popular amongst gym-goers and athletes and was also one of the fastest growing markets in India.
“We have developed a variety of protein products, from peanut butter, to protein powder, to protein crunch. Consumers also get to choose products of different flavours, because our intent is that consumers should have the choice to choose the way they want to consume their protein.”
On the other hand, the company has also developed its first kids nutrition product – a beaded probiotic straw known as My Straw.
Suitable for kids five years old and above, they can drink a cup of milk using this chocolate-flavoured beaded probiotic straw.
The probiotic beads will be consumed along with the milk when the kids sip the milk from the food-grade straw.
The probiotic used is bacillus coagulans and the company is planning to add a strawberry flavour version of the product.
“The concept behind this product is from ‘no more to one more’, because we as kids have [at some point] said no to milk, but we want to encourage kids to drink milk by giving them this probiotic beaded straw, so that they will go from not wanting to drink milk to wanting one more glass of milk,” Gupta explained.
On average, the company has spent about six to one year developing these new products and 80 per cent of the products were developed by its in-house R&D team.
Moving forward, the company also intend to launch nutraceutical gummies for children and add seven to eight more SKUs to the kids nutrition range.
Series A funding
Post March next year, the company is planning to go for its series A funding to gather new funds for its marketing and product distribution activities.
The company is working towards the target of US$35 million to US$40 million during the series A funding.
The funds would be used to introduce BodyFirst’s products to pan-India, said Gupta.
At the moment, the brand is available in modern trade channels such as heath foods stores Nature’s Basket, Reliance trade, Wellness Forever, Radha Medicals and Modern Bazaar.
It is also available on ecommerce channels including Amazon, Flipkart, Nykaa, MyGate, Healthmug, as well as its own website.
The company aims to enter the general trade channels such as grocery chains, following the Series A funding.
Currently, the company’s activities are funded by its investors, including famous fitness icon, Bollywood actor and serial entrepreneur, Suniel Shetty, who is one of the prime investors and ambassador of the company.