By Devaki Bhooshan
Already stocking a vast range of organic food, home and personal care brands, Gujarati player Suryan Organic is poised to capture more market share with a vastly amplified inventory, the launch of its pan Indian organic products e-commerce site, and the unveiling of yet another retail outlet—this time in Surat city. And it has also commenced B2B operations
The popular Suryan Organic of Gujarat is responding to the traction it has received in the past year by expandingthrough a significantly wider inventory, the launch of apan India e-commerce site, sose.in as well as, the unveiling of another new retail outlet, in Surat.
SOSE store interior, Ahmedabad
Whereas, Suryan already retails organic foods, natural home care products and organic personal care products through Ahmedabad-located retail outlets under the brand name ‘SOSE’, the company has now gone a step further by adding organic cotton and brass tableware to its ever widening inventoryin order to cater for the whims of varied consumers. On the e-tail front, it has launched sose.in, a pan-India portal offering a wide range of organic and natural food, home care and personal care products. Having enjoyed immediate success in its Ahmedabad retail outlets, Suryan is also set to launch a new retail store in Surat.
“We don’t have a business model. We only have one objective—to support our conventional Indian way of farming, ie, organic farming by creating market linkages. What we call organic today is simply ‘food’ to our parents. We’re trying to contribute to the extraction of novelty from organic foods and natural products. We hope to contribute by making it the norm again, just as it was in yesteryear”
Director, Suryan Organic
According to brothers, Gopal and Gopesh Sutariya, the idea of forming Suryan came about when they learnt their favourite organic food store in Ahmedabad (where they reside) was shutting shop in a month’s time and they had 30 days to find a new organic food source in the city. The brothers, both ardent lovers of organic foods, couldn’t bear the thought of going back to conventional foods, and decided to start an organic store of their own on a whim.
Commenting on Suryan Organic’s somewhat unconventional beginnings, Gopesh says, “We started Suryan on an impulse and literally conducted zero research. Along with our friend and fellow organic food enthusiast, Raju Modhwadia, we procured what we could in one month and started a small retail store right away.” Although the store was initially conceived as a stocking unit of sorts for family and friends, consumers outside their social range started flocking to the store. They launched the first SOSE store in October 2015, which grew to three stores in just 6 months, and it wasn’t long before the brothers spotted the huge potential in the organics sector.
Despite the seemingly whimsical reason for establishing Suryan however, the brothers Sutariya aren’t strangers to commerce and strategy. Already established businessmen, they are promoters of well known real estate company, Sutariya Developers, and create luxury and eco friendly projects under the brand name ‘Suryan’.
Sose.in, thee-store is a virtual one-stop destination for organics and natural products. With over 2,500 itemsas part of its inventory, the portal offers the freshest organic produce, everyday grocery items, health and personal care products, exotic cooking ingredients, snacks and beverages. It stocks products of organic and natural brands such as ‘Sose’, ‘Vama’, ‘Gir’ and ‘Himalayan Mountain’. Joining the list of premium brands will be ‘Green Season’, an organic cotton range by Suryan.
‘Gir’ is the company’s range of natural cow derived products, ingredients for which are sourced from the company’s self owned, award winning dairy comprising indigenous, free range Gir cows.
Currently, Suryan Organic has a phalanx of 1,000 farmers as part of its procurement network, and also has its own 150-acre organic farm. Local fruits and vegetables, spices and organic fabrics are sourced from Gujarat and Rajasthan. Farmers in Maharashtra supply exotic vegetables, oranges, grapes and mangoes; vanilla, cocoa, coffee and spices come from south. Apples, saffron and walnuts are sourced from Kashmir, pineapples and tea from east.
Although most farmers under the ‘Suryan’ umbrella are organic, some small scale farmers are not certified since they can ill afford the hefty certification fee. “We conduct lab tests to verify that the farmers’ lands are indeed pesticide-free before signing them up as our vendors. We couldjust as easily limit our network to certified farmers but we prefer a holistic approach wherein marginal farmers also get the opportunity to contribute and receive market linkage. We find that consumers are happy to supportthese farmers and the organic movement at large by purchasing from us,” says Gopesh.
The Gir Brand
A unique offering of Suryan is its much-in-demand, exclusive cow and dairy products sold under its ‘Gir’ brand. Gir products include milk, ghee, cow ark (distilled cow urine), mouthwash, tooth powder and an all-natural floor cleaner. Suryan’s cow ghee (clarified butter) is especially coveted by consumers.
Cow ark, a peculiar product by conventional standards, acts as an immunity booster, a blood purifier, and tonic, and is considered a cure for a number of diseases ranging from thyroid and diabetes to cancer. In ayurveda, it is widely employed to balance the three doshas or biological energies—vata (air and ether), pitta (fire and water) and kapha (earth and water)—in the human body.All milk and dairy products sourced from Gir cows are of the A2 variety, which is more healthful and easier to digest than A1 milk.
Indigenous Gir cows grazing at the Bansi Gir Gaushala dairy
The dairy behind Suryan Organic’s successful Gir brand is the family-run Bansi Gir Gaushala located in Ahmedabad. With 350 free range Gir cows as its occupants, the dairy’s monthly milk production amounts to 15,000 litres. Bansi Gir was established by the Sutariya family to revive indigenous cow breeds, of which there are few left in the country nowadays, with most dairymen preferring to import Holstein Friesians from Europe. They have been successful in their endeavour as is evident from the fact that the dairy received the prestigious ‘Best Cattle Breeder Award’ in 2015. Cows at Bansi Gir are served a combination of organic feed (obtained from the same organic farmers who supply Suryan Organic) along with organic jaggery and different kinds of ayurvedic plants and seeds. On the premises of the dairy, Suryan also operates the Gyan Samanvay Pathshala, a small school imparting free education to underprivileged children from neighbouring areas.
Pure ghee from the ‘Gir’ brand is a hot seller in the domestic market
Sose.in has kickstarted its service with delivery to Gujarat and Maharashtra and will commence pan-India delivery in August 2016. Besides retail (online and offline) expansion, Suryan is also inviting business to business queries for its multiple brands and will also commence export by 2017.
Although Suryan’s multipronged approach to expansion represents a template for success to most, the Sutariya brothers claim not to have a strategy in place. “We don’t have a business model. We only have one objective—to support our conventional Indian way of farming, ie, organic farming by creating market linkages. What we call organic today is simply ‘food’ to our parents. We’re trying to contribute to the extraction of novelty from organic foods and natural products. We hope to contribute by making it the norm again, just as it was in yesteryear,” says Gopesh.
This article was published in the April 2016 issue of Pure & Eco India