Ethnic lifestyle retailer Fabindia, known for its apparel and furniture, is gearing up for online retailing of organic fruits and vegetables. The retailer is zeroing on strategies to establish a supply chain to deliver fresh produce directly from farmers to households by eliminating middlemen.
According to a study commissioned by Fabindia, by the time some items such as chilies arrive at markets in Delhi, their prices go up by around 100 per cent or more.
William Bissell, MD, Fabindia said there is a growing concern among the Indian middle-class about food contamination.
"There is no control over water contamination, excessive use of herbicide and the way vegetables are processed. I have seen bananas being ripened with gas. Organic farming provides an opportunity to reduce food arbitrage by around 30 per cent or more," he said.
If the online retail model works well, Fabindia could successfully tap into the highly lucrative organic-food market which is unorganised and consumers are willing to pay extra bucks for ‘organic’ products.
At present, there are only a handful of small players such as I Say Organic and Organic Garden that sell organic fruits and vegetables online, while other players such as Ecotokri and Natural Mantra mainly sell finished products such as packed quinoa seeds, honey and cosmetics among others.
Some of the premium food retail chains such as Godrej Nature's Basket also have organic food brands like Navdanya and 24 Mantra in their kitty.