Have you heard of Kombucha yet?
It’s the fermented Chinese tea that has taken the first world by surprise.
Western countries are newly discovering a horde of traditional Asian beverages that offer both taste and health. And the trend is being reflected in urban and young Indians as well.
Most of us have grown up knowing homemade drinks such as Kvaas or Shinkanji, but they are now taking commercial spotlights. With their intricate flavors and variety, traditional drinks are pushing forward the Indian food and beverage market.
The food and beverage industry in India is becoming a high-profit sector. It makes up around 3% of India’s GDP and nearly 2/3 of the country’s whole retail market.
It is predicted that the income in the food and beverage sector will expand at a CAGR of 14.2% between 2020 and 2024. By 2024, a USD 1,264 million market volume is also anticipated.
MAVI’s Pantry, an Indian brand that specializes in fermented drinks like Kombucha, is gaining traction as part of this industry. Founded by duo Meenakshi Bhanj Deo and Vikram Mittal, the startup has been on Shark Tank India. Let’s find out more.
Meet The Booch-addicts
Meenakshi is the brand’s ‘brains’. She is a dog trainer and behaviorist. She earned a master’s degree in psychology before beginning her career in event management in the late 1990s. She then launched her own firm with friends before relocating and working as an HR recruiter for EXL.
Meenakshi then took a break to work with an NGO, where she eventually rose to become one of the directors after 5 years.
Before founding MAVI’s, she collaborated with several international organizations. She likes modifying flavors to make them more approachable. Blueberry Kombucha is her favorite flavor of kombucha.
Vikram is a marine engineer who has visited 52 countries and worked on some of the largest ships ever built while working for MAERSK, the largest shipping firm in the world.
Vikram is a food enthusiast and always strives to eat locally and seasonally. He enjoys cooking, and in 2015–16, he especially enjoyed baking sourdough bread whenever he went on holiday at home.
As soon as he and Meenakshi brought the culture back from our friends, he was ready to manufacture kombucha at home. At a farmer’s market, Vikram is the salesman of dreams, making sure a customer samples every flavor before you leave.
The MAVI’s pantry team is compact. Rehana is the production manager, in charge of a five-person crew. Vikram is in charge of sales and marketing. A few others work with administration, accounting, etc. The startup wants to expand its workforce and create a sales and marketing team.
Bringing Kombucha to India
Vikram and Meenakshi used to be in the US before MAVI’s happened. One day, they were hanging out with their friends who had brewed Kombucha for them. Loving the taste and concept of the drink, the duo was inspired to make it themselves. That’s where the addiction to booch began!
They soon bought the Kombucha culture back and started brewing them in India; their entire family adored it. Up till now, they had never considered doing it professionally.
Encouraged by all the positive feedback, they ultimately made the decision to set up a booth at a Mumbai farmers market in March 2022. They were shocked to learn that they sold out on the first day. They never turned back after that!
The Scope of it
Meenakshi and Vikram did their market research and saw a gap in the market. For those occasions when you want to drink something but don’t want a sugar high or when you find yourself at a party but also need to drive home, you didn’t have a choice beyond the basic juice.
There was a significant gap in the healthy yet entertaining beverage category. These alcohol-free drinks save the day with their flavors and organic carbonation. It is a wonderful gift for friends and guests.
Additionally, as lifestyles have changed, so too have lifestyle disorders. Everyone appears to be experiencing some health problem, which all comes down to how their stomach is doing.
Proved by science, fermented food promotes the development of a healthy gut. It aids in digestion, prevents and treats bloating and acidity, are a fantastic source of vitamins C and B12, among other things. There is a reason kimchi and sauerkraut are staples of Korean and German cuisines.
Fermented drinks are also evolving into a staple of urban culture. Easy to transport, bubbly, all-natural, free of preservatives, and an excellent substitute for market offerings that are high in sugar and preservatives.
Vikram and Meenakshi want to share this age-old practice of fermenting drinks with the Indian audience. Indeed, it is as old as Yoga, and while Yoga took over a decade to gain the booming popularity it has today, the duo believes the same could be achieved with fermented food and drinks.
Some of MAVI’s Pantry’s products include Beet Kvaas, Tepache, Shikanji, Water Kefir, Sauerkraut, and fermented garlic, along with their signature line of Comm-Bucha flavors.
Growth And Shark Tank Appearance
According to its founders, MAVI’s expands yearly, even after the pandemic hit, and the company had to burn through money on sales. The MAVI’s team thinks sampling is the best course of action.
MAVI’s made around 6 lac in its first year and a little under 12 lac the next. After that, it generated roughly 24 lac in net sales, which brought the current year to a close at about 36 lac. This year, it expects to double or even triple revenues.
In February 2022, the booch-addicts went on stage at Shark Tank India. They pitched for a fund of 40 lacs for 5% equity. While they were refused, they impressed the judges and audiences with their variety of flavors.
Future of Fermented Food
MAVI’s pantry wants to launch on Amazon this year, with an expanded shop presence in the top 15 cities across the country and the quickest pan-India delivery.
Additionally, it wants to concentrate on cafés and eateries that can reach the target demographic more effectively.
We realized this would be an incredible journey the day we had our first taste of modest success at a farmers market. MAVI’s is determined to be an open and honest brand and thought leader in the fermented food market.
As the team says,
“If you think ‘fermentation’, we are your answer.”