In a conversation with Mr Anurag Sharma, Managing Director, Shree Baidyanath Ayurved Bhawan Pvt. Ltd, we find out his views about the ayurveda industry, GST and how his brand contributing to the industry and consumers.
How has the ayurvedic industry re-gained its lost charm?
I think it is because of the people getting more aware. There has been a significant amount of awareness among the people that we have gone to the extreme end of chemicals. We were harming the nature, our body and all the essential things. Slowly, people have realised that living a natural life is much healthier alternative than using all kinds of chemical based products. Ayurveda has intensive capabilities of healing from within and providing a complete cure. It is because of the increasing level of education and what we have done to the nature, the consumers are turning towards ayurveda and have become more aware.
What new innovations has Baidyanath initiated for the betterment of its consumers?
We have been looking at various aspects, from cultivation of herbs on an organic level to getting farmers to cultivate and buy herbs directly. We have also tried to promote the use of non-pesticides, non-insecticides based herbs. We have started collaborating with universities for research in Ayurveda and work with nearly 40 ayurveda colleges to promote ayurveda. This has given us a cutting edge on research as the same done outside can be easily validated. The latest innovation which we are attempting to do is getting into functional, bio active based foods.
Ayurveda does use a lot of foods which people do not know of. We are trying to make sure that the products in this range are standardised to a bio active level. We are trying to promote the usage of the different types of herbs and spices so that people can eat and live healthier. We are trying to eliminate the basic need to take medicines. People should maintain a healthier and better lifestyle. We do have done some juices and now we are looking forward to taking this range to the next level as we introducing ready to drink health drinks which have zero sugar and are good in taste. We are going more mainline than just using alternative ayurveda therapies.
Is your brand planning to venture into various other categories than just being a name in the ayurvedic industry?
We are and we have already ventured through Mantra into the FMCG space. We are getting into functional foods which include a range of juices and we are doing aromatherapy. We are ready to venture in to FMCG space. We do have some lifestyle centres which are like spas and we are looking forward to our other future ventures other than mainline ayurvedic ones.
Can you share something about the Bios active range of foods that Baidyanath is venturing into?
We are looking at three to five ready to drink juices instead of being the traditional amla juice or aloe juice. We have enriched these juices with other active constituents and we are branding them in terms of the health benefits they deliver. The range is of ready to drink and so we have taken sugar out from them completely. These drinks are better than the carbonated ones that people consume so much and they have the benefit of being functional. They will deliver the bio active benefits and this means that it good for your heart, skin, appetite, acidity etc. So, the concept is prevalent.
What are your views about the rising competition in the ayurveda market?
According to me, the awareness among people is increasing and this is getting the competition higher. More companies are becoming aware and they think that it is a buzzword and they need to be in the ayurveda space. So, it is bringing in a lot of players, some are goal oriented and then there are some with no clue of ayurveda. This is surely expanding the market. So, people expanding the market are most welcome to be in the ayurveda space and popularise ayurveda. Those who do not know about ayurveda are somewhat damaging the industry while the ones talking it up seriously are helping to take the industry further.
Since there are various products in categories of ayurveda, organic, naturals and greens, how can these all be differentiated?
All these mean different things but you actually have to realise that. There is a vegan movement which is all about being vegetarian. This overlaps a bit with organic because people want to be vegan and organic. Organic basically tends to mean things which are grown without harmful chemicals like insecticides and pesticides. It does not necessarily mean that it will deliver to you anything else apart from food benefits. Ayurveda basically delivers health benefits. It will either take care of the problem if you have any and if not, it will maintain to optimise your health. Ayurveda is more about longevity and organic is more about chemical free.
Other than just ayurvedic products, what are the other products that the consumers are reaching out for?
Consumers are reaching out more toward natural. They want products to be as chemical free as possible. Whether it comes from ayurveda background, naturopathy or any health benefit background or even from nature, consumers are turning towards them. It might not deliver a proper health benefit; it just might deliver a more natural experience. The consumers are looking at using localised, Indian products. People are going more for essential oils as perfumes have chemicals. Natural foods and fruits like shikakai, amla and others are in demand among consumers for their various health benefits. So, this kind of thing has slowly started happening where the consumers do not mind if the product has a short shelf life as long as it doesn’t contain chemicals.
Has GST affected the ayurveda market?
GST has affected the ayurveda market in an unfortunate way. Even at 12%, the load has become high as all our inputs come directly from the farm so we do not get any input credits. It has also equated the classical traditional medicine and the other patent product at the same rate. So, this is going to damage students on a long term basis as compared to the companies they are practising classical medicine.