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Yoga Bar aims to reach Rs 500 cr in the next 2 years: Suhasini Sampath

Adgully is back with a new edition of its annual feature – TRENDING NOW – where we present the strategies and views of a cross-section of industry leaders as they go about reclaiming lost time and market opportunities and build for a stronger future, armed with the lessons of the pandemic period.

Over the last few weeks, Trending Now has been bringing insights from industry leaders on how their organisations are gearing up to seize the opportunities in 2022, break through the Covid disruptions and find growth and remain resilient.

In conversation with Adgully, Suhasini Sampath, Co-Founder, Yoga Bar, speaks about trends that will dominate in the Indian food and beverage industry in the year ahead, how the pandemic has reset priorities when it comes to food choices, the challenges and opportunities, surge in D2C market and more.

What are the trends that you expect to dominate in your sector in 2022?

The Indian Food and Beverage landscape is changing significantly. The changing dietary patterns mandate the discovery of foods that are healthy, safe, and able to meet the nutritional requirements of consumers. One of our guiding principles at Yoga Bar is to ensure that we use 100% natural, clean and healthy ingredients that are locally sourced and manufactured in-house.

This past year, we have witnessed a major shift in the snacking category as well – from confectionery and namkeen to healthier alternatives such as oats and muesli, one of Yoga Bar’s top sellers.

A study by Deloitte indicated that Indian dietary trends have evolved with changing food consumption patterns over the years. There has been a decline in the share of grains in the daily calorie consumption (from 63% to 55% in the last six decades), while there has been an increase in the daily consumption of protein (~15% in the last two decades), fruits and vegetables, whole grains and superfoods.

Yoga Bar uses 100% whole grains in all its products. Apart from breakfast cereals for adults like our range of Muesli, Oats and Quinoa, we have now brought the Whole Grain revolution in the kids’ cereals segment with Yo Chos and Yo Fills with the ‘Power of 7’ consisting of 5 Whole grains (jowar, bajra, ragi, quinoa, oats) and 2 Dals (Moong & Channa). Having said that, ragi is an underrated gluten-free grain which has a lot going for it. Ragi is packed with cellulose, a type of dietary fibre, that aids digestion, keeps constipation away and cholesterol in check. In April 2021, the United Nations declared 2023 as the International Year of Millets. This initiative was sponsored by India and supported by 70 nations.

Millets are not only healthy food, but are also considered to be a climate-friendly grain that can address concerns related to food security, agrarian crisis and nutritional challenges.

What are the challenges and new opportunities that you see emerging in the year ahead?

Amidst the pandemic, Yoga Bar customers were purchasing a range of products – protein bars, muesli, breakfast and snack bars, and now nut butter – off supermarket and retail store shelves, but were slowly shifting towards adding them to their online carts as everything started to shut down and rapidly move towards e-retail. Studies show that this change in consumer behaviour is long-lasting and will be a preferred choice in the post-pandemic era as well, giving F&B brands a huge opportunity to expand their portfolio in order to cater to the growing demand. One definite learning is that more and more individuals are focusing on nutrition. Brands must call out specific health and nutrition benefits rather than simply terming products ‘healthy’.

We strive to make consumers aware of the nutritional composition of its products by showcasing complete transparency on all our Yoga Bar product labels. We began the clean label revolution in India because we believe that the big FMCG companies were hiding things from their customers. We wanted to change that.

Our goal is straightforward – use only simple wholesome nutritious ingredients. Inspired by all that good food and nutrition brings us – health, positive energy, and with it endless possibilities, we created the Yoga Bar.

How is this year’s turnout expected to be in this sector as compared to the last two years? How strong will the recovery be? What are the changes that have happened in this sector in the last two years?

Amid the pandemic, when Yoga Bar had to pivot from an offline presence across more than 6,000 retail stores to online channels, the customers were waiting. In fact, according to the founder, the D2C brand saw 3x growth in FY21. We been consistently innovating in the Health Food segment, achieving more than 100% growth rate YOY with our new product categories in the period of the last 3 years. These range from muesli, oats to Ayurvedic juices and whey protein.

The next move would be to promote our products on an international scale and improve our local reach from 10 cities to as many markets as we can penetrate into.

How strong will this sector’s growth be compared to the last two years as well as the pre-Covid period?

The COVID-19 pandemic has reset our priorities. Given the rising awareness about healthy diet and focus on nutrition, we see the health food sector as one of the fastest growing sectors in the country. While the growth of the sector was around 10% in the pre-Covid times, it is safe to say that the sector will grow at 2x rate in the post-Covid period. We have also seen Yoga Bar rapidly grow its consumer base to clock in over 3x its value in 2021, becoming a Rs 100 crore business, with an aim to reach Rs 500 crore in the next 2 years.

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