Green Light Foods-LLP is a start-up company with a contemporary vision towards food along with a deep-rooted philosophy where they use local healthy produce like ragi, jowar and brajra to make wholesome and nutritive snack bars. The company is known for providing wholesome and sustainable snack options to the consumers. Food Marketing & Technology-India Magazine interviewed Srivardhan Sethuram, Managing Partner, Green Light Foods LLP, to glance the products, services and techniques they provide.
1) How did the idea of launching healthy snacks with common ingredients come to your mind?
Millets are nutritious grains, which have been grown by our ancestors for generations. The best thing about these grains is that they are typically rain fed (do not need extensive irrigation) and are drought and pest resistant. In India, we often hear about how farmers are suffering due to climate change. We feel increased consumption of millets and reduced dependence on rice and wheat can help both the farmers as well as the environment.
But Millets are not a very palatable grain, so we decided to come up with products which would present millets in a more contemporary format (bars, muesli, crackers etc.) and make it more attractive for consumption. Our motto is ‘Delicious Goodness’ – we decided that all our products should not only be tasty, but also good for your health.
2) If we talk about nutritious and healthy snacks, how is the present market scenario in India?
The organized snack market as a whole, in India, has taken off in a big way. The healthy/nutritious snack segment though is still in a nascent stage, but the encouraging thing is almost on a weekly basis, you see new and innovative products on market shelves.
3) Tell us about your products- nutritious bars and muesli.
We manufacture granola bars exclusively as a private label. Currently, we make for Nilgiris (Future Group), Gaia, Truweight, etc. We are also in advanced discussion with a couple of other major players and will be coming out with a few innovative bars soon.
Our Toasted Millet Muesli is manufactured under our own brand ‘Monsoon Harvest’. We have 4 variants. The millets we use in the muesli are Ragi, Jowar and Bajra. All ingredients are carefully sourced and there are stringent manufacturing checks to maintain product quality from batch to batch. We focus on offering our customers a high percentage of fruit and nuts in our muesli.
We have also recently launched ‘Buttermilk & Millet Crackers’ in 4 variants: Roasted Garlic, Caramelised Onion, Fennel and Cracked Black Pepper. These crackers have a combination of 5 millets. We have used some lesser-known millet in making the crackers: Barnyard Millet, Kodo Millet, Foxtail Millet, Finger Millet and Small Millet. The crackers are baked and great as a savoury snack or can be had with soups, cheese, or a dip.
4) With the use of ingredients like ragi, jowar, bajra and oats, how does your product stand out from the others in the market?
Most manufacturers are exclusively focusing on ragi. We have decided to use as many of the millets as possible. The other thing we focus on is making sure that the product tastes good and is healthy at the same time. Focusing on one without the other will certainly not result in a good product.
In our Muesli, we have some innovative flavour pairings such as Fig & Honey with Salted Pistachios & Dark Chocolate with Orange Peel. There is no one else on the market making these flavour pairings.
We also have not seen anyone with millet crackers on the market. A baked savoury millet based snack is new in the market.
5) Are the snacks, that your company is producing, balanced in protein, fibre, carbohydrate and healthy fats?
Yes, they are balanced in the vital nutrients. They are rich in natural fibres, since we use whole grain millets and oats. Our products are free of trans fats, and low in saturated fats. We don’t use any hydrogenated fats, artificial colours etc. in our products. In fact, our motto is ‘Delicious Goodness’.
6) Could you explain a little about fable cookies that you intend to launch?
Fable Cookies was a pet project of ours. Stories from the “Panchatantra”, which we heard as kids are no longer being read. We wanted to come up with a fun way to get today’s kids to re-connect with India’s ancient Fables. So we decided to make animal shaped cookies and have a storybook box.
7) What are the latest processing techniques you use? Can you tell us about machines that you use for processing, packaging etc?
The ingredients for bars are mixed in a planetary mixer and muesli mixing is done in a coating mixer. We use rotary rack ovens for baking Muesli and Bars. Bar packaging is done in a horizontal flow wrap machine. Muesli bags are sealed using a band sealer machine with nitrogen flushing arrangement to maintain the crispness of the product. All the packing is done in humidity controlled chambers.
8) As an entrepreneur company, how challenging was it to obtain necessary licenses and regulatory guidelines from FSSAI etc.
We strictly follow GMP norms (Good Manufacturing practices) recommended by FSSAI in production. Raw material and packing materials are stored in respective racks etc. All product contact parts of machines are made of stainless steel. Also, we effectively implement HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point). As a consequence, we did not have any major stumbling blocks in obtaining FSSAI license.
9) What are your marketing tools? How do you reach out to the customers?
Being a small start-up, our marketing budget is limited. We have a small social media campaign and we take part in local exhibitions such as Soul Santae in Hyderabad or Karen Anand’s Farmers Market in Pune. We definitely find that the exhibitions are a great way to connect with customers and get instant feedback on products. And finally, word of mouth is what is helping us. If someone likes your product, word of mouth will surely help you.
10) What are some new product development and targets that your company aims to achieve in the near future?
We are looking to launch new products in the breakfast and snack segment. But neither will be a typical product, we want to make sure that we continue to innovate with flavours, ingredients and packaging and give our customers a complete sensory experience.
11) How are you coping with the competition in the market?
The muesli sector is quite competitive with many new entrants domestically and with a whole host of imported products also being available. Existing giants such as Kellogg’s and Bagrry’s, keep introducing new product offerings frequently. However, we have been able to hold and increase our volumes as we do cater to a certain niche customer and because our ingredients are unique. If we don’t keep introducing new products, it is only a matter of time before we are left behind. With that in mind, our R&D team is constantly working on new additions to the breakfast market.
12) How long have you been in the market? What is the growth percentage?
We have been making private label granola bars for a little over 2 years now and our Monsoon Harvest brand will be 1 year old this Diwali. Growth for Monsoon Harvest Toasted Millet Muesli has been exponential and better than we could have imagined and we are yet to completely tap the market. Every month, we keep adding to our distribution and sales network and before the end of the year, we hope to be all across India.