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By TPCI | October 11, 2019

Akiva Superfoods is a young, conscious and mindful Indian company with a range of wellness food products for a proliferating market of health-food consumers. The company has a rich bouquet of innovative yet simple products in their basket, great to taste, prepared using premium ingredients and affordably priced. Being well suited to a global palate, the innovative brand finds a notable presence in various parts of the globe.

Talking to IndusFood, Mr. Karan Dokras, Head – Sales & New Products, Akiva Superfoods, shares his plans for expansion, which he contends would keep the brand at the forefront of the health-food transformation in India, and also give strong traction globally.

Karan is a serial F&B entrepreneur with multiple exits and industry experience. His entrepreneurial stints include Chymey Teas and Kettle & Brew. Karan has also led sales across Retail, HoReCa and B2B at Imagine Cold-Pressed Juices.

Following are few excerpts from the interview:

IndusFood: What was the inspiration behind the brand when it was founded?
Karan Dokras: In the last few decades, Indians have become better travelled, more health aware and highly discerning towards the food choices being made. There is a lot more effort being put into choosing the right kind of food. People are consulting nutritionists, dieticians, sports scientists and actively searching for credible information on the net. They want and deserve healthier options for their regular food, and our purpose at Akiva Superfoods is to provide a new India with healthier food options. 

After the success of our innovative ready-to-drink herbal health shots, we introduced a wide range of healthier groceries across large categories like ghee, peanut butter, honey, apple cider vinegar and herbal powders. We are focused on providing innovatively packaged health-food products that are flavourful, widely available, high-quality, affordable and nutritious. 

 IndusFood: What were the major challenges to growth and expansion and how did you meet them?
KD: Healthier food is mostly boring, mystified, not easily available, expensive and does not taste very good, which prevents its adoption. This has been a big challenge for us. However, at Akiva Superfoods, we are always innovating to deliver healthier food across large categories. We work with a team of food technologists, nutritionists and manufacturers and also have a strong network of end consumers. We believe in introducing the market to inspiring ideas that can be taken to scale. 

IndusFood: What transformational changes has the business undergone, since its inception in terms of product portfolio/innovations, reach, brand equity, etc.
KD: After the success of our innovative ready-to-drink herbal health shots, we introduced a wide range of healthier groceries across large categories like ghee, peanut butter, honey, apple cider vinegar and herbal powders. We are focused on providing innovatively packaged-health-food products that are flavourful, widely available, high-quality, affordable and nutritious. We bring things that find a familiar space in our kitchens and are easy to consume. In the last few years, over 100,000 customers from across the world have experienced over 1.5 million of our health shots. Our website has catered to over 1 million users, and over 35% of them keep coming back regularly.

IndusFood: With so many brands dealing in the health-based food segment today, how does Akiva stand different & unique?
KD: We are not here to give magic pills or quick fixes for health problems. We are not pushing a new age crash diet. Akiva Superfoods is an honest and grounded attempt at understanding the fundamentals of what makes some food better for us as compared to others. Our range of superfoods is widely accepted in the United States of America, the United Kingdom and India.

Our health shots are good for anyone who wants a quick and efficient way of consuming the benefits of nature to address specific concerns like weight, skin, hair, detox, digestion and immunity. Kids find our jaggery cubes in chocolate, cinnamon and coconut flavours super yummy. Adults have included the plain and masala jaggery cubes into their regular diet as healthier alternates to refined sugar. 

Our superfood preparations are simple, easy and super convenient to consume. True to our name, Akiva, which means, "protect, shelter" in Hebrew, we find the highest quality ingredients and products that can be packaged for our consumers, who want to live a healthier and happier life.

IndusFood: How has the brand progressed on the international front? What are the key export markets you are targeting for your products and why (domestic and international)? 
KD: Akiva Superfoods has already made footprints in the US, UK and Germany markets through the online giant – Amazon Global, and we will continue to strengthen and expand in these major consumer markets. The other key export markets that we are targeting are Canada, South-East Asia and the Middle East.

IndusFood: How do you see the growth in the food and agro processing industry from India? How is it expected to reflect on the exports front? 
KD: According to the Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI), by 2024, the food processing industry will potentially attract US$ 33 billion in investments and generate employment for 9 million people. We believe that the enhanced capacities will encourage production of products that have high-export potential and fuel the exports market.

IndusFood: How do you plan to expand in the near future? Any planned product launches/ innovations that you might want to share?
KD: We are expanding our retail presence, working towards innovating in large categories and bringing more delightful products for our end users. We are committed to developing a wide range of exciting packaged-health-food for a new emerging India and supporting the Fit India Movement through our Made-in-India initiatives. The next few years look very exciting for our brand, and we believe that we will be at the forefront of a health-food transformation in India.

Akiva Superfoods is surging ahead to be the go-to name for healthy foods, first in India and then globally. Specifically, in the next 2 years, we will have high-quality high-value products across a range of healthier groceries, be present in 10,000 stores, serve over a million customers and have over Rs. 100 Cr in sales. 

IndusFood: Can you please name some product(s) that needs shelf space and marketing attention?
KD: It is Akiva Superfoods’ 100% Pure A2 Cow Milk Ghee made from milk, which contains only A2 beta casein (protein). Instead of the buffalo milk or A1 milk used by most brands, we make our ghee from A2 cow milk of grass-fed Sahiwal cows at partner dairy firms. The widely available commercial ghee in the market called 'DESI GHEE" is not A2 GHEE. Our Ghee, being gluten-free, is packed with potent nutrients like Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, fat-soluble vitamins A, E, and K2 and is easy to digest. Because of these numerous advantages, our Ghee will be heavily marketed and placed very well across the retail stores.

IndusFood: Your views on IndusFood and its upcoming fixture in 2020…
KD: We are extremely excited to be participating at IndusFood 2020. It is the flagship global trade show and we expect to maximise business opportunities and showcase Akiva Superfoods to the global buyers.    

IndusFood: What is your take on IndusFood launching IndusFood-Tech and IndusFood-Chem as brand extension? How will it help the industry?
KD: It’s a great platform for machinery/equipment manufacturers and the ingredients industry to showcase their latest technology and connect with potential buyers across the globe. This is a great step towards aggregation of food brands, equipment manufacturers and ingredients industry under one roof.