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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

‘The Vegan Movement is Strong and We Want to Be a Part of It’

Two mothers had been struggling to find high-quality packaged food for their children. Their own search helped them identify the gap of healthy eating options in the children’s food market in India. They both decided to follow a business idea close to their heart and founded Slurrp Farm – “an endeavour is to take millets to the world”.

In a conversation with The Vegan Indians, Shauravi Malik and Meghana Narayan, co-founders, Slurrp Farm, said, “Slurrp Farm was launched in October 2016 with a mission to provide healthy snack and mealtime options for young children and their parents. This journey has been exhilarating! We don’t come from traditional business families, and we have learnt a lot on the go.”

Shauravi added, “Meghana jokes that both our roles are really co-chaser 1 and co-chaser 2, and this is what we spend the majority of our time doing; we are both very persistent.”

In just over two years, what started as an experiment in their home kitchens has now turned into a loved kids food brand. Their products are available on their own website, all key ecommerce platforms and about 600 stores across three cities in India, serving close to seven lakh customers. Slurrp Farm is currently focused on introducing diversity in their product portfolio. Its new products shall include millets flours, millet drinks, millet rice and other superfoods.

Learning Along the Way

At the beginning, while focusing on the quality, and getting the right set of ingredients for the kind of products Shauravi and Meghana had in mind, they searched, travelled and taught themselves. For their first product prototype, they figured out how to make a tasty organic fruit and vegetable purée product for children. “We did all the recipes, branding, packaging and legwork and it was all ready to hit the shelves in literally record time,” they said.

“More than Oxford, Cambridge or Harvard, we have really learnt by visiting umpteen number of organic food farmers and companies, raw materials co-operatives and vendors, food technologists, scientists, normal farmers, machinery and equipment manufacturers, small and large food companies, packaging vendors, food retailers, nutritionists, food labs etc; not to mention moms and babies and yummy food all along the way! The list is endless. This journey criss-crossed so many parts of India – villages, towns and large cities.”

Creating Demand for Superfoods

Like every other business, the Slurrp Farm team too conducted a market research, and realised there was very little demand for such products. They felt that their products might not be able to scale beyond the affluent Indian parent in the near future. So, the team went back to the drawing board and did more market research, product R&D, and decided to follow their hearts.

“We realised the answers lay in our own grandmothers’ kitchens. We made cookies with a childhood friend who is the most incredible baker, we dug into ingredients from our childhood but tried to make them tasty and not stodgy. During the pandemic we realised that so many of us are baking more, so we launched a range of cakes made with no maida, and in fact no wheat, and no refined sugar,” they said.

slurrp farm

“Every recipe starts on a small scale, and our in-house R&D team then goes on to make them work at scale without adding preservatives, artificial colours or flavours, trans fats or stabilisers etc. We have focussed on doing all this while keeping an eye on getting the price value equation right for the end consumer. It has not been easy! For each product line we have entered, we have been able to bring together experts for recipe development, commercial scalability and quality control. And every year along the way, we want to be better than we were the year before, and continue to innovate to have the best product possible.”

Taking Millets to the World

Slurrp Farm was born from the concern that the current food system is broken, and requires innovation and creativity to re-introduce sustainable, nutrient dense and diverse ingredients back into children’s and families’ diet.

According to the co-founders, millets need a third of the water required by rice to grow. They are hardy grains which can withstand long periods of drought, and they require little pesticides or fertilisers to thrive. This makes them inherently organic in nature and are grown by the marginal farmers of the country.  Within the next five years, the company is looking to actively build channels for direct engagement with farmers for fair trade of millets, legumes and pulses.

“With one in four children malnourished, obese or overweight, has resulted in India becoming the diabetes capital of the world. Malnourishment occurs at both ends of the spectrum, and is not only due to poverty, but also due to a diet with too much sugar, salt and fried junk food with preservatives, artificial flavours, and colours. The market size of the opportunity is large, but at the heart of it, we felt we simply had to change things to be better, and be a force for good. It is hard to fix our badly broken food system, but innovation lies in simplifying. We all know someone who’s suffering from a lifestyle disease. We can’t control air and water pollution, but we can control exercise and food. These are the two things that are still in our hands,” they opined.

“Slurrp Farm products are healthy, tasty, and convenient breakfast and mealtime options for young children and families. We use better quality ingredients in our products so that a parent can feed their children the product without thinking twice. We use better grains, raw sugars, no preservatives, no artificial additives or colours.”

Focus on Plant-Based and Vegan

Slurrp Farm products are made using a diverse range of superfoods like ragi (finger millets), jowar (sorghum), foxtail millet, lentils, oats, amaranth, nuts (such as almonds, cashews, and pistachios) combined with real fruits and vegetables, raw sugars and natural sweeteners like jaggery.

Shauravi and Meghana feel that more and more people around the globe are waking up to the need to consume a plant based diet – and the pandemic has accelerated this choice. “Our cake mixes are products that have a global market so we chose to make a product that is on trend globally – with no wheat, no dairy and no artificial ingredients.”

slurrp farm

“Through our product portfolio, we are reaching out to a health-conscious consumer and vegans are part of that market. There is a strong vegan movement in the world and we want to be part of that revolution.”

Getting Attuned to the Growth Spurt

From 100 customers initially, Slurrp Farm has grown to 7,00,000 now. Within four years of launch, it has turned into a popular kids food brand in India, UAE and Singapore. The company says that it has a 40% repeat rate across portfolio of products. “We have tried our very best to understand our customer (the parent) and consumer (the child) – at the heart of Slurrp Farm, has been a dogged persistence to get this right. Our revenues have grown 300% during the last 6 months and we are looking to grow at the same rate over the next 12 months,” the co-founders stated.

The start up recently raised $2 million in a Series A round from Fireside Ventures. Slurrp Farm plans to deploy the funds raised for product innovation, marketing, and increasing inventory to cater to the increasing demand. The brand is also looking to strengthen its team and fortify direct-to-consumer channel.

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