In conversation with Restaurant India, Jigar Mehta, Co-Founder, Honey Twigs talks about their venture and the need for the segment in Indian market.
What made you start this concept?
While growing up, I remember how much I loved honey. It was really something I felt more people should use in daily life and was quite passionate about it. The journey began when my partner Paras Fatnani and I did a survey in 2014 to understand how people were really using honey. This gave us some very interesting insights. We understood that while more people were keen to consume honey today than a few years back, they had a few concerns like it being messy, sticky and tough to travel with because the current forms of packaging available weren't convenient enough. We then looked at the trends and then spent over a year trying to formulate a solution with the superfood that is both an energy booster and a healthier alternative. Our solution was Honey Twigs, honey in single serves.
How is the category growing in the fast evolving food market?
Statistics show that the health food market and especially the honey category is growing rapidly. More and more people are turning to health foods; more people are joining the gym, running marathons, downloading fitness apps etc. A superfood like Honey is an easy win for them. And, we aim to change this from an ‘on-the-shelf product to on-the-go food.
What is your supply chain process?
We procure 100 per cent pure, antibiotic free honey that comes from Himachal and Punjab for the Multiflora and Muzzafarpur in Bihar for the Natural Litchi. We get lab tests with every batch to guarantee the quality, something that helps us deliver the best products to our customers.
We then pack the honey in our own packaging arm at our headquarters in New Delhi and then work with distributors currently focusing on Maharashtra, Delhi NCR and are in talks with a few others for certain markets in the south and east of India.
Where can we see your product at markets in India? Please share your market presence?
We have positioned ourselves in 3 key areas of business – Retail, Food Services and Gifting. We are currently in nearly 100 retail stores in Delhi and Mumbai predominantly and a few in the rest of the metros basis of the fact that we went into retail only last September. Some major stores customers can find us in are Foodhall (Pan India), Le Marche (Delhi NCR), Needs Gourmet in Gurgaon, Society Stores & Alpha Supermarket in Mumbai.
We are also in talks with Star Bazaar, Hypercity and Westside Gourmet.
In Online retail – we are on Amazon, Delightfoods.com, Namkeenwale, Askme.com and The Gourmet Box amongst many others.
Are you also supplying to restaurants and hotels?
Yes, we are closely working with many restaurants and hotels. We work with Sarovar Hotels, Café Lota, Le 15 Patisserie The Pantry, Sassy Spoon, Woodside Inn, Snackible, Chaipoint, Deli France, Holachef, Bagrrys on the Go, Ranjit’s Svaasa in Amritsar amongst others.
How many product categories are there within Honey Twigs and what’s your plan expanding the portfolio?
Currently, we have 2 natural variants available in Honey Twigs – Multiflora Honey and Natural Litchi Honey. And we have 4 SKU’s for retail (10-twig pack and 30-twig pack for each variant) and 2 in the food services segment (Single serves for each flavour)
Our plan is to introduce a few new flavours like Acacia as well as an organic range with Honey Twigs. Also we are simultaneously working on launching a few gourmet flavours like – Vanilla infused honey and Cinnamon infused honey in jars but that will be under a different brand within our business.
Talking about competitions, do you see any competitor in the market?
Competition can be defined in 2 ways for us – one is the traditional form in which many leading brands sell honey and the other is other convenient health foods that consumers have available. However, we feel that we have the first mover advantage and the new innovations that we are working on will help us propel to greater heights.
Going forward, what is your expansion plan ( city, number, retail partners, product line)?
Our goal is to be in 5000 stores across India in a year from now. We want to be available in all large modern trade stores and general stores as well as work with hotels, restaurants, cafes as well as other food services providers.
Product wise – we will be launching a lot of new flavours in Honey Twigs as well whole new range of other packaging forms and are also working on collaborations with other complementing products so the scalability can be achieved.
In terms of markets – we are focusing ourselves largely on India but we’ve had some interest from UAE and United Kingdom and are currently exploring the same.
We have seen that food business has become the new love of investors. What is your plan attracting them?
We want to create a real impactful business. We have had some interests from some early stage investors, however we wish to develop a good financially scalable product line that can be sustainable and then use the funds to innovate further and scale internationally.
By the end of the year, we should have some ideas on the way ahead on this front.
What are the unique innovative and R&D techniques that keeps you growing.
We are constantly trying to innovate and grow in terms of new flavours, varieties of honey and new innovative ways to bring the super food to our customers, keeping in mind the purity and the quality of honey. There are some exciting things that we are working on currently and should be able to get to our customers soon.
In the near future we also want to innovate in other healthy foods and super foods.