“There has been a definite change in the conversation around Ayurveda, and an increase in interest,” Keller told NutraIngredients-USA. “Many Americans see allopathic medicine as failing them and this has prompted them to look into Ayurveda.”
Keller’s role as director of education and training is to make Ayurveda simple and accessible to all. “Ayurveda is very different to the Western model because it treats a person as an individual. In the US the classic view is that if something is common then it’s normal, but Ayurveda looks at you as an individual.”
Organic India doesn’t call itself an Ayurveda company but it does offer safe and effective Ayurvedic herbal products produced using organic and biodynamic agriculture in India.
Teas and supplements
The company offers both tea and herbal supplements. “Tea used to be the leading market, but supplements growth is far outpacing the tea business,” said Keller.
Teas have seen sales growing at a rate of 6-10% overall, with some “specialty” teas such as Moringa and Sleep seeing 20%+ growth, she said. The two best selling products are its Original Tulsi tea (Holy Basil) and Sweet Rose Tea. “We have a new tea with turmeric and ginger with holy basil,” she said. “I suspect that be number one or two in the next year or two.”
Herbal supplement sales are growing at over 20% with some products like Turmeric, Moringa, and Ashwagandha seeing 40% to 50% growth, she noted.
“Five years ago we thought we’d do better with products with the structure-function type labels for sleep or flexibility, but what is growing is the products with the Sanskrit names of the herbs.”
So who’s buying these products? Consumers are really all over the board, she said, from Millennials to Baby Boomers. “They’re coming at it for different reasons but in equal numbers.”
There exists some tension in the wider community about synergistic and single-ingredient approaches, with Organic India firmly in the whole herb camp. “We are a full herb company and we don’t do extracts, with the exception of turmeric that has additional turmeric extract [95% curcuminoids] added,” she said.
In addition to the whole herb approach, the company also relies on the traditional science established over thousands of years. “Most companies rely on the latest science out there,” said Keller. “We subscribe to traditional use versus the latest study.”
The company is vertically integrated and controls everything from seed to shelf, said Keller. The vast majority of the herbs are sourced from India (with some flavors sourced from elsewhere). “We have complete supply chain control,” she said.
Formed in the 1990's by a small group of people from around the world who met in northern India, the company started with one farmer. Today the company works with 2,000 partner farms.
“There is also a need for organic farming in India because the country is seeing increasing numbers of farmer suicides,” said Keller. “When they work with the GMOs, the crops need excessive amounts of water versus conventional crops, and these smaller-scale farmers cannot afford irrigation and rely on the monsoons. They have to repurchase the seeds because they’re not allowed to save them for the next year. It’s very difficult economically for them and they are drinking the pesticides to kill themselves.”
“These farmers are some of the most at-risk people in the world,” she added. “We work with them, we teach them to farm organically and biodynamically, we provide electricity and healthcare, we pay for all the certifications, and we pay them whether their crops succeed or fail.”
Internet buying has changed the buying habits of consumers, and Organic India has responded by positioning its education for consumers as well as the traditional audience of retailers, brokers and distributors.
Unsurprisingly, the most viewed presentations on the company’s Herbal University education platform relate to the top selling herbs, but the most watched educational video on their site is about Organic India’s regenerative agriculture initiative.
“People are more interested in being part of something that makes a difference,” said Keller.
Organic India’s US headquarters are in Boulder, CO and the products are available in 40 countries across the globe. Many of the products are Non-GMO Project verified. The company has organic certifications from Control Union and SGS as per USDA, EU and NPOP Organic Standards. Organic India is also a B Corporation.
The Healthy and Natural Show
Organic India's Amy Keller will present an introduction to Ayurveda: The Science of Life at the upcoming Healthy and Natural Show at Chicago's Navy Pier, May 5-7, 2016. For more information and to register, please click HERE.