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Manas-smallA 37 year young entrepreneur and serious endurance cyclist, Manas Arvand understands the role of nutrition and food in performance and endurance sports. With a background in design and advertising, Manas brings in a rich understanding of consumer insights and a creative vision into his business. Currently, Manas is the Food Designer for Grainny’s, which involves researching and recreating best of the traditional recipes for the ‘Urban’ dwellers. He is also a founder of Team T3, a cycling group for enthusiasts, which organizes cycling events, brevets and expeditions to eventually prepare a team of finest velo-athletes to compete and win in the international competitions.

In this exclusive conversation with LifeBeyondNumbers, Manas Arvind shares his journey, how and why he started Grainny’s, challenges, learning and much more…

Inception of Grainny’s

My wife and I, with our deep interest in lost traditional foods were drawn to using natural and organic food on day to day basis, though not everything we wanted was available easily and often we would get our ingredients directly from different farmers and producers. We saw a definite positive impact on our lives, and realized that how badly we were compromising with the most important part of life – good nutritious food. Our 9 year old daughter Utsa, also slowly moved away from all packaged foods in the market, be it chips or cornflakes. She was being raised in a different environment and could even feel the peer pressure. But eventually not only she felt the benefits, she also started participating in all the food talk at home. Utsa loves to bake, and for her there was a variety of grains and flours available at home to experiment with. One day, she, along with her Mami, baked an Organic Ragi-cocoa cake. This was our ‘Eureka’ moment. Here was a cake, rich in Calcium, Iron, Proteins, Flavonoids, complex carbohydrates and good fats. This was nourishing, tasty, wholesome and made entirely with natural ingredients. Something, one could eat as much as one wants, without thinking.

While with a lot of effort, and over a period, we could make natural foods possible for us, we wondered how we can extend our positive experience to all others looking for healthier and fitter lifestyle but are unable to get the natural/organic foods.

Grainny's-Granola-Bar-lifebeyondnumbers

Grainny’s, started in August 2013, is the manifestation of this dream, where it brings ‘Nature’s bounty for healthy and active life’. At Grainny’s we research and design ready to eat, nutritious, whole-day foods for different walks of life and ages. Be it sports and fitness, school, sedentary or active work, homemaking, shopping, entertaining guests, or TV time munching. It’s ensured that  it is the best of health and nutrition which gets to you through Grainny’s food. Each of the Grainny’s food is nutrition balanced, and is made with natural and organic ingredients, without adding any chemicals and preservatives. They closely follow the RDAs (Recommended Daily Allowance) and ensure that you get perfectly balanced nutrients with great taste. By the way, getting the nutrients right is easier than getting the taste right, for which all our foods must pass the Utsa test, where she mercilessly approves or disapproves each of the foods, with her super-kid-taste-tests. This is a mandatory test along with a mixed panel of food testers we have. We continuously participate in fairs and exhibitions, to directly interact with people, test our products, and generate feedback.

What is Grainny’s?

Grainny’s is a naturally-organic ready-to-eat foods’ brand, which not only suits the daily nutritional requirement, but also provide healthy options for in-between meal snacking. The products are made with trusted natural and organic ingredients, and are made using traditional methods that includes gluten free and vegan foods as well. Grainny’s make Energy bars, munchies for Active/working people; Sweets made with natural sources only, and full of complex carbohydrates, and Micro nutrients; Multi grain daily loaves; Biscottis, and Cookies, etc.

Grainny’s is found by a family where food is serious fun. They love to explore, research, experiment and learn not only the recipes, but also the food traditions and their role in different cultures. Grainny’s is co-founded by me, with my understanding of the role of nutrition in performance/endurance sports, along with my wife, Ritu Mathur an horticulturist, garden designer, and organic/natural food expert; Priya Mathur, Certified fitness expert, trainer and teacher; and Aashish Mathur.  Grainny’s is closely and actively supported by rest of the family.

We first devised recipes and portions to suit the specific needs of endurance cycling, all of these were made with different kind of organic grains, and ingredients. Ritu brought in this know-how and co-design foods which are made with all natural ingredients (pesticide and chemical free) healthy for all ages, nutritious, and tasty. We are ably joined by Priya Mathur, who is a certified fitness trainer, bringing in her expertise to fine tune the nutrition needs for different customer profiles.

Grainny’s is entirely self-funded, with enthusiasm, willingness to learn, and excitement to serve the best. Money wise we are on a shoestring  self-funded mode, and will soon be looking for external funding for business expansion and depth.

Grainny’s promotes healthy active life through foods made with natural and organic ingredients. We have introduced ready-to-eat snacking options that includes Granola bars – a balanced mid meal or sport time snack for adults and kids; Multi Grain Laddoos- rich in vital micro and macro nutrients, great source of energy from first thing in the morning, and as post meal deserts; Biscottis and Toasties – for healthy leisure time guilt free snacking.

Grainny’s is much more beyond selling products when it comes to promote a healthy life. We are constantly engaged in organising fitness events, nutritional cooking workshops, walks and cycle rides.

The Challenges

Consumer mindset – We assumed people want to eat healthy, but that is not the case. For a lot of people healthy foods are for sick people. Often we are found answering that, while our products can be consumed in moderation by people with ailments, They are basically meant for everyone looking for healthy food options. Consumer also needs to understand that the natural or organic food is neither an option nor a fad. This needs to be the first preference. If eating fresh and chemical free is possible, why unnecessarily feed chemicals and processed ingredients to our body.

As we focus on traditional recipes, our challenge is to mass produce them, without losing the goodness. We have put in a lot of time in researching the methods and processes, in order to produce chemical and preservative free food. This food comes with a short shelf life which is quite natural. A lot of retailers question the short shelf life and find it a limiting factor for stocking.

We are working on overcoming these by also directly selling to the customers. All our products can now be directly ordered on phone or mail, or can be bought online at Snapdeal.com

The Way Forward and The Learning

Grainny’s would continue to research and bring new products from traditional kitchens of the world. Our endeavor is to recreate foods which have been mastered over ages but are now lost in the modern times. We are not about huge corporate expansion plans, but we will be happy to see majority of consumers taking on to Natural foods daily, and feel fitter, stronger and healthier.

Working at Grainny’s has been one of the most rewarding and exciting experiences of my life. Here we do what we love to do (i.e cook and eat, and we know it is good for people around us, which further multiplies the feel-good factor. I have learnt this to be a tough journey, which would involve a change in the mind-set at large. But we are on the job and we know, that good food would prevail.