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Ayurveda Is About Proactive, Holistic Health: Ameve Sharma, Co-Founder, Kapiva

Backed by the iconic Baidyanath Group, Kapiva, a functional foods brand focused on bringing selectively sourced Ayurveda-inspired, natural foods to consumers. Ameve Sharma, Co-founder Kapiva talks to ASHISH SINHA of BW Businessworld on impact of Covid on Ayurveda, its growing popularity and its expansion plans. Excerpts:

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What was the idea behind the launch of Kapiva?

Kapiva stands for modern ayurvedic nutrition and it was launched in January 2016. The company has been able to disrupt the traditional ayurvedic industry, by presenting the benefits of Ayurveda in modern, more accessible, and convenient formats. Ayurveda has always been at the heart of Indian tradition. However, somewhere along the way, the true essence of it has been lost. People approach Ayurveda with a curative lens but it is in fact, a way of life. One of the major reasons why Ayurveda is not mainstream in India is due to the lack of awareness about its benefits and values among the millennial population.

Kapiva aims to create awareness among modern India and show how Ayurveda can be incorporated in modern lives without drastic changes to the lifestyle. All products of Kapiva are created keeping the busy and on-the-go lifestyle of millennial, who are conscious about their health, but seek easy-to-use and convenient options, without having to compromise on taste or experience. For example: Kapiva Gummies are designed for on-the-go nutrition with the power of Ayurvedic herbs, in a yummy gummy format, which is convenient as well as a joy to consume.

How has Covid -19 impacted Ayurveda?

The biggest impact of Covid-19 on Ayurveda has been the approach which people have towards Ayurveda. Ayurveda was considered medicinal or curative, and used as a solution to specific problems. However, Ayurveda is actually about proactive, holistic health. With Covid-19, people have become more aware of staying proactively healthy, and preventing illness. And Ayurveda caters very well to such an approach towards health.

Pre-Covid, the ayurvedic market typically witnessed 15-20 per cent growth annually. In the last quarter, many companies, large and small, have witnessed anywhere between 50-90 per cent growth. The adoption of Ayurveda as holistic, natural healthcare will have a positive impact on the market.

Today, people across the world are switching to herbal products and leveraging natural remedies to boost health and wellness. Amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, consumers across nations are switching to the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda to boost immunity. From INR 300 billion in 2018, the global ayurvedic market is forecasted to reach INR 710 billion by 2024 (Globe Newswire, 2020).

What has been the impact of Covid-19 crisis on your business performance and growth? 

Kapiva has been on a strong growth trajectory even pre-Covid, clocking 3x growth in monthly revenue from March 2019 to March 2020. Since then, the first half of FY21 has seen accelerated growth, with an expectation to achieve a revenue run-rate of INR 70 crore per annum by March 2021. The future holds strong growth trends as well. Ayurveda is Rs 30,000 crore industry in India. As per the current estimates, the company is expected to cross Rs. 300 crore in revenue in 5 years, to capture a part of this market. Kapiva is also aiming for profitability within the next 2 years.

What will be the role and scope of Ayurveda in India going forward?

According to a report by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), almost 77 per cent of Indian households today use ayurvedic products as against 69 per cent in 2015. With the increase in R&D activities and Government’s support, the usage of Ayurvedic products in India is bound to increase in the coming years. The Government of India has set up AYUSH ministry to promote benefits of Ayurveda while the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is conducting molecular-based studies to validate the efficacy of Ayurvedic medicines. The Indian Government has also incentivized the industry by lowering the Goods and Service Tax (GST) from 12 per cent to 5 per cent. All in all, Ayurveda is poised to become a great avenue of growth in India, if enabled the right way.

Your views on the role of Aayush Ministry in today’s Indian healthcare sector?

There are couple of things AYUSH could focus on, for enabling the growth of Ayurveda.

To really grow Ayurveda to its potential, a global outlook is required. And in order to serve global markets, global standards of clinical validation and trials need to be followed. To facilitate this in the Indian ecosystem, AYUSH would need to establish the right standards, and perhaps also support organizations to carry them out, given the high investment required. The advantage with Ayurveda is that the product or ingredients themselves are not toxic, so there may be better probability of success. The market potential too, is great, given Ayurveda can address not just mild, lifestyle issues but also chronic health issues. Both put together are a formidable market opportunity. Within India, there is also another practical hurdle. While the ayurvedic market has been growing, the number of ayurvedic doctors has remained at more or less the same level for many years. This can be addressed by building more education facilities. AYUSH is already working on this, but this is a long-term initiative, of course.

What is Kapiva’s market share in India? Do you also sell outside India?

Ayurveda is a ₹ 30,000-crore industry in India. As per current estimates, Kapiva expects to cross ₹ 300 crore in revenue by 2025 and capture a part of this market. Kapiva’s key market lies in India, with a wide reach. Indians are believers in the power of Ayurveda and the modern Indian consumer is looking for a more accessible and convenient format of Ayurveda to consume its benefits. Besides India, Kapiva is available in USA and planning to expand to Canada and European markets in the coming months. Presently, Kapiva works with importers in overseas markets to distribute products in offline stores. The response of other countries has been very encouraging. Awareness about alternate ways of leading a balanced lifestyle is growing rapidly and Ayurveda/Indian traditional foods have been featuring more in overseas media and stores, especially the United States. Products like Ghee or those made with Indian herbs are gaining popularity. Kapiva products can be found in most ethnic stores and the process of nationwide distribution is ongoing.

What are your product lines? Which is the highest selling product?

Kapiva offers product lines such as Ayurvedic Nutrition (e.g. herbal juices like Amla Juice, Aloe Vera Juice), Functional Nutrition (e.g. ayurvedic gummies, nutrition powders), and Gourmet Nutrition (e.g. A2 ghee, wild honey, virgin coconut oil). Kapiva is a leader in the herbal juices’ category on several marketplaces like Amazon, Big Basket, Flipkart, etc. The functional nutrition products such as nutrition powders and gummies are growing rapidly, while gourmet nutrition has been widely appreciated for its quality as well.

Any recent product launches

Being mindful of the consumer demand for building immunity, Kapiva recently launched three immunity-boosting products - Kapiva Immune Care Juice with 11 ayurvedic herbs like giloy, ashwagandha, tulsi, etc., Kapiva Vitamin C Gummies enriched with the power of Amla and finally, Kapiva Pure Tulsi Ark Drops with 5 types of tulsi.

We have also recently launched our latest product in the Breakfast range called the Kapiva Masala Supergrain Mix with ayurvedic herbs like tulsi, turmeric and amla.

What are your future plans? What is your spending on R&D?

The future strategy of Kapiva rests on the following pillars: Innovation through new product development - Kapiva’s range of products are expected to expand soon, followed by products such as ayurvedic effervescent drinks, which will cater to customers’ taste preferences, while being healthy. Kapiva continues to invest in R&D and innovates on sourcing better ingredients, convenient product formats, and consumer friendly packaging, to deliver more value to the consumer. The company has developed a top of the line and robust R&D setup in-house, while working with top food technology experts of the country, such as the former heads of R&D at companies like Britannia and HUL, to build best-in-class product ranges. Backed by Baidyanath, Kapiva remains focused on innovating on more accessible nutrition, under the realm of Ayurveda. The purity and quality in sourcing of ingredients has been given centre stage.

Expanding the distribution network offline and scaling up the direct-to-consumer channel:  Kapiva is currently present in 6,000+ general trade outlets across 12 cities. This is set to expand 10,000+ outlets and cover more cities by the end of this financial year. The direct-to-consumer channel has had a great growth story too – it grew about 20x in revenue in less than a year. It is expected that this strategic channel will grow another 5x this year.

Building our brand communication to share our story of modern ayurvedic nutrition: We are focusing on digital channels at the moment, since our customer base is largely present here.