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"Organic Is Still Niche In India" Pritesh Asher, Juicy Chemistry

“We do not use lab-grown ingredients; we need to get to the source where those ingredients are best grown in its habitats. For example, we go to Spain and Greece to get our olives, Australia to get our tea tree and sandalwood oil, etc.”

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How did the idea of Juicy Chemistry come about in a pre-existing, cluttered beauty market? 

When a salesperson would try to sell us an organic formulation, just out of curiosity I would turn around and looked at the labels. A cursory reading of the label showed the use of petrochemicals. I could identify some sulfates, fragrances, stabilizers, and emulsification happening in the product formulation. We asked ourselves this question if there are ingredients that are petrochemical-based, not natural, or 100% ayurvedic, are we making the right choice as a consumer? This led us to deliberate back in 2015 if we could make formulations that are absolute without chemicals. That question led to the birth of Juicy Chemistry. We got into research, development, and reverse engineering of the products.  

How do we verify the organic claims of Juicy Chemistry? 

We as a consumer are so confused as to which product is actually living up to its claim. A lot of them did not live up to their claims, and perception did not match expectations. For us, it was important to address that miscommunication in the first place. That was one of the reasons why we started looking at the certification. In addition to transparency, we were looking to address the quality of the product itself starting from the quality of raw materials itself. The organic certification that we have is from Ecocert France, which is in accordance with COSMOS standards. We went to Ecocert because there was no certification available in India that gave a framework for certifying cosmetics in the first place. After a lot of research, we found USGA was one such authority that was operating out of the USA but did not hold any credentials in India, so we looked at Europe. Even on our website, we give a clear indication of what the word organic means.   

Given that you source your products from all over India, and logistics sector is unorganized what were the challenges you faced in this domain? 

Juicy Chemistry not only sources brands from India, but we also source brands from 25 different countries. We do not use lab-grown ingredients; we need to get to the source where those ingredients are best grown in its habitats. For example, we go to Spain and Greece to get our olives, Australia to get our tea tree and sandalwood oil, etc. The source materials are a factor of efficacy as well, as far as Juicy Chemistry’s formulations are concerned. In such a set-up, logistics and supply chain organization can get challenging. Sometimes it takes us longer to source ingredients within India than it does globally. Organic as a market in India is still very young. In the coming times we will see a lot more of the farmers add to the organic farming output in India, eventually in the next decade. However, sourcing these ingredients is in itself a very big challenge. While the infrastructure is still developing, we have come a long way than five years back, especially with the e-commerce boom coming in and connectivity going up especially in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. For us, working directly with the farmers is one of the supply chain problems we must live with because we rely on their organic outputs.  

Given that you source from very specific locations, how were you able to source raw materials during the lockdown? 

Last year when the pandemic was fresh in its wave, none of the organizations were prepared for it. Given this fact, the demand was not particularly hit hard at that particular point in time, but the supply chain was hit badly. We were not getting raw materials in-house. In the second wave, the companies were more prepared in terms of the supply chain, with major adaption taking place. We were well stocked; we anticipated some things earlier on. While we maneuvered extremely well, the last-mile supply chain was still an issue which is something our customers also understood. In the future, there will be even more consolidation.  

How is Juicy Chemistry able to support farmers during this difficult time? 

For us it is long term association with farmers, given that organic is a niche market in India. At this stage, it is most important for us to support the farmers because they do not have an off-take. They also struggle against paying the laborers, harvesting takes a back seat, and other challenges the farmers must look into. What we did this time was give assurance to the farmers, and we always try to fulfill our commitment to the farmers even though we could not make deliveries during the first month and a half during the lockdown. We took forward bookings for the next year itself so that they can also retain the local talent they have hired. Now the farmers are also supporting us back by holding the stock back for us. 

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