The Organic World is building a retail chain for chemical-free products

The Organic World, with an offering of more than 2000 chemical-free products, has 16 outlets in Bengaluru. It is exploring a franchise model to grow to around 100 outlets by 2025.

The Organic World is building a retail chain for chemical-free products

Thursday October 12, 2023,

5 min Read

The Organic World (TOW)—established by Gaurav Manchanda in 2017—has been promoting the idea that better choices are not only possible but essential for a healthier and cleaner lifestyle.

Manchanda credits the bootstrapped retail chain’s expansion from a single store to 16 outlets to its loyal customer base. Notably, the Bengaluru-based company, which offers pesticide-free organic products, launched four new franchise stores in the past four months. 

In terms of its product offerings, TOW covers a wide spectrum. From organic-certified fruits and vegetables, chemical-free everyday staples, and homecare products free of toxins, to cosmetics—the company boasts an inventory of approximately 3,000 Stock Keeping Units (SKUs).

The surge in franchise interest has spurred the company to plan significant expansion, such as reaching 100 stores by 2025, targeting southern Indian states like Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu. Its immediate plans include entering Chennai and Hyderabad, besides exploring opportunities in Tier II and III cities in South India.

The Organic World

The Organic World's retail outlet

The Organic World  TOW, which is operated by Nimida Group, acknowledges the need for gradual expansion in India due to the complexities of its localised and time-sensitive supply chain. While Manchanda declined to disclose specific revenue figures, he said the company anticipates an annual growth rate between 10-13%. 

The company's approach has predominantly centred on its brick-and-mortar stores, accounting for about 90% of its sales, while the remaining 10% is generated through online channels. The average billing value is between Rs 900 and Rs 1000.

"Building something offline is a long journey. We are at the right time in the right place. It is all positive right now," Manchanda says.

How it started

“I had always prioritised a healthy lifestyle. While living abroad, I noticed better access to healthy foods,” Manchanda says, who lived in the US while working as a senior strategy consultant at Ericsson in New York. 

In 2015, upon returning to India, he was concerned about the normalisation of pesticide-laden foods and polished grains. “Though healthy eating is ingrained in our tradition, the acceptance of compromised consumption habits, where daily exposure to chemicals through cosmetics, toothpaste, preservatives, etc., has become a norm is alarming.” 

Manchanda identified the need for a platform that consolidated cleaner and organic products, emphasising principles of affordability, accessibility, and authenticity. “In 2017, we opened the pilot store in JP Nagar,” he says.

The Organic World

One of TOW's initiatives, the Not In Our Aisle list, comprises around 25 chemicals and harmful ingredients—including notorious additives like high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavourings, and parabens, among others—prohibited from appearing on the store's shelves. 

By establishing such stringent standards, TOW encourages its brands partnered with it to reformulate their products and adhere to healthier options.

“I am happy to say that we have had several brands change their product formulation and obtain the necessary certification to conform to our standards and be part of our offering. This shows their belief in our vision and plays a key role in the true synergy between brands and retailers,” Manchanda says.

Working with farms and brands

TOW started its journey by sourcing fruits and vegetables from its farm. However, as demand grew, it expanded its organic farm network and educated farmers about the benefits of organic farming.

"Today, our network of farms and farmers are organised under our umbrella brand of Happy Harvest Farms, and the produce reaches our shelves within 24 hours of harvest," the founder says, adding that it currently has a network of 60 farmers. 

The products of Happy Harvest Farms pass through the company’s due diligence to ensure they are organic-certified. Sometimes, the company also provides natural fertilisers and seeds to help in the production process. 

Collaboration with like-minded local brands, small businesses, and women entrepreneurs is another of TOW's business strategies. The company provides them a platform to compete against larger retailers, ensuring consumers have access to chemical and preservative-free products. 

TOW currently works with about 200 to 250 brands, including its own brands—Osh Homecare Solutions and WellBe Foods that fall under the Nimida Group.

Osh Homecare

“We started the Nimida Group in 2019 as a parent company, under which we could consolidate all our existing brands (TOW, WellBe Foods, Osh Homecare, Happy Harvest),” says Manchanda, who also serves as the founder and managing director of the Nimida Group. 

Osh Homecare Solutions offers homecare products free of harmful chemicals, boasting formulations made with 99% natural and plant-derived ingredients. Its product range includes laundry detergent, fabric conditioner, dishwashing liquid, multipurpose kitchen cleaner, floor cleaner, toilet cleaner, and more.

On the other hand, WellBe Foods sells a range of staples, snacks, snack bars, and breakfast essentials—100% free from refined oils, artificial additives, synthetic antioxidants, preservatives, and high fructose syrups. The brand currently offers about 170 SKUs across these categories.

While third-party manufacturers make the products, the company’s in-house R&D facility ensures the ingredients and formulations meet its stringent standards, allowing TOW to maintain control over product quality and consistency for Osh and WellBe products. 

As part of the retail organisation (The Organic World) and the food chain (which includes WellBe Foods and Osh homecare), Nimida Group has employed around 300 people in various roles, including production, packaging, warehousing, logistics, retail stores, and its head office. 

According to a report by IMARC Group, the Indian organic food market size reached $1,278 million in 2022, expected to reach $4,602 million by 2028 at a CAGR of 23.8% during 2023-2028.

TOW competes with Fresh Earth Organics, Nature’s Basket, Healthy Buddha, Suryan Organic, and Lumiere Organics, in India.

Edited by Suman Singh