Did you ever get frustrated with the rising concentrations of chemicals in your food? Do you want to feed your babies the highest quality nutrient-rich foods? Are you on the lookout for organic products that are free of chemicals? This article is for you. Check out what Ms. Rupali M., the founder of Fructus Terra, (an organic baby food product company) has to say about going back to traditional and chemical-free food.
Q. Tell us the story of Fructus Terra and the meaning behind the name?
A. Fructus Terra means ‘The Fruits of Mother Earth’.
Fructus Terra was conceived on the ideals of propagating the benefits of healthy, traditional Indian foods and facilitating the same through our products.
An infant’s body is as pure as a human being can be. What if the baby was given organic food from day one, when the solid foods are started for the baby? The baby can have the best of nutrition which is devoid of any chemicals for the rest of its life. This is the idea with which we started our venture.
We found that ‘Nagli’ as referred to by the locals, which we know as Ragi – Finger Millet was widely used in the rural areas of India and the urbanities were completely missing out on the benefits of it. It is a rich source of essential nutrients and fibre. It is a wonder grain which had to be brought into the limelight of Indian dietary habits. We started our product line with a mix of traditional offerings such as Sprouted Ragi Sattva, Sprouted Wheat Mix and Rice and Moong-dal Mix for babies. We have also introduced Sprouted Ragi Flour which is catered towards all ages.
Q. Who are your customers? What kind of feedback have you received from them?
A. Our products are ready to make porridge pre-mix ideal for the babies from 6 months to 3 years. We have received lots of positive feedback from parents. We are thrilled to know that the babies are relishing our products. Our product Sprouted Ragi Flour caters to all ages and the feedback for it has also been positive.
Q. What is your unique selling point? In what way does Fructus Terra differ from other millet products?
A. Through our study, we found that people are now becoming aware about the benefits of organic food. We wanted to focus on traditional foods as they were rich in nutrients and being locally produced, were aptly suitable as per the dietary needs of our Indian Climate. We wanted to reintroduce the age old rich traditional knowledge about local foods which was possessed by all our grannies.
We had ventured into Organic Mango Farming seven years ago and found a huge difference in taste, quality and nutritional values between the conventional and organic products. We knew the benefits of organic food which are made without the use of any chemical fertilizers and harmful pesticides.
We are Certified Organic Manufacturers and our products have ‘India Organic’ certification. We source our raw materials from certified organic farmers and our manufacturing process is as per the stringent guidelines of National Program for Organic Production Standards which are regulated by APEDA (Agriculture and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority) of India.
Our products are made from natural ingredients and we sprout our grains to enhance their nutritional content. They do not contain any Artificial flavours, chemicals and milk solids. We do not add any preservatives to increase shelf life of our products. Our products are easy and quick to prepare. They are travel friendly too. Just add boiling water to our product mix and the porridges are ready within minutes. You just have to carry a hot water thermos with you during your travels and be rest assured that your baby gets healthy food anywhere you go. We have found that several parents are now packing our products with a hot water thermos to creches and day care, along with their babies.
Q. What are the challenges you have faced so far with launching a millet-based alternative to regular baby food?
A. We faced several challenges at the beginning. Most of the parents had a mind-set of feeding their babies with formulae-based products which contained milk solids and artificial flavours. We actively created awareness amongst the parents about the benefits of using traditional organic food products. We did several promotional campaigns where we individually explained the benefits of millet and sprouting based products to parents in several shops and malls. We created awareness through our social media about millets being rich in nutrients such as Iron, Calcium, and Fibre etc.
Most of the people were not aware about the benefits of eating organic foods. We created awareness about the benefits of organic food amongst the people. We showed them how to identify genuine organic products in the market, what certifications or logos to look for before buying any organic products.
Q. When it comes to adopting millet-based products, what is the general trend you have observed in the last few years. What measures are being taken to convince customers to try millet-based products?
A. We found that parents were feeding their babies formulae-based products which included preservatives to increase the shelf life of the products and contained artificial flavours which may be harmful to the babies. When these babies grew up to become toddlers they were fed conventional foods. We found a trend that even educated people were not aware of about the benefits of eating millet-based products and mostly followed convenience food trends.
We have started a new trend wherein we have introduced people to the plethora of food dishes that can be easily made from millets. We made them aware that millets can be enjoyed by all ages alike. At the start we found recipes and unique ways in which millet based products can be given to babies and toddlers. We showed that Pancakes and Cakes can be made with millets which were normally made using Maida (All-purpose flour). Parents started making Dosas, Ragi Idlis, Cakes, Brownies and Ragi Malt. We highlighted the stories of such parents on our social media platforms. The response from the parents has been exciting and they are continuing to create innovative recipes and sharing their experiences with us. Now we have parents who are making home-made Ragi Noodles and the same parents are themselves enjoying these millet-based dishes along with their kids. The parents have also shared their experiences about how happy their child’s school teachers were when they saw millet-based dishes in their lunchboxes.
The most delightful experience for us was when a few senior citizens who were fitted with dentures, used our porridges and malt as an instant evening meal and shared their experiences with us.
Q. Tell us about your future plans?
A. Our goal is to manufacture healthy and nutritious food products. We will continue our journey as a company focusing on natural and healthy foods. We have plans to introduce exciting products catered towards all age groups and of spreading traditional Indian foods to all the corners of the world. Our objective will be to spread the awareness and benefits of millets around the world and facilitate the same through our products.