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Our benchmark is milk; not to be an alternative: Krishna Reddy, Nourish You

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Krishna Reddy, co-founder of Hyderabad-based Nourish You speaks about the company’s new product millet mlk and about the brand’s journey in the superfoods business

New Delhi: At some cafes in Hyderabad, the coffee served is made not with animal milk, but with milk made from millets. This innovative product was recently introduced by homegrown superfoods company Nourish You.

In an exclusive interview with IndiaRetailing, Krishna Reddy, co-founder at Nourish You, tells about the brand’s journey, growth and its new product, Millet mlk.

Tell us about your new product, millet mlk.
We were trying to figure out how to add the grain into our product portfolio. We thought it would make much more sense to spend more time and energy to come up with something that’s innovative.

This was prior to Covid-19 and we finally have the product in hand.

The first version of millet mlk has two variants. The first variant is called the original, which one could have directly without any add-ons, like animal milk. It can even be used to make either tea or coffee.

The second variant is chocolate, which is the original plus premium cocoa. This can be directly consumed too.

Nourish You's millet milk
Nourish You’s millet milk

You mentioned that this is the first version…
Yes. The first version is a barista edition, which means that it is specially designed for coffee and café purposes because they need to make several products with froth in a café, apart from just coffee. This version is compatible for that as internationally among true coffee lovers, milk for coffee is preferred without sugar. And, by default, this milk variant has no added sugar; it’s innately sweet.

Do you plan to take the barista edition to the commercial sector?
We have been meeting many café owners. In Hyderabad, many cafés have started using our new product. They have tried and tested millet mlk and it was able to meet their parameters.

Does millet mlk taste different from other milk variants/substitutes?

Our benchmark is milk; not to find an alternative for it… we wanted to come as close as possible to it in terms of taste, texture and colour.
Interestingly, the cafes we approached were initially reluctant to try millet mlk. They made coffee from animal milk and also from millet mlk. In some cases, they were unable to differentiate between the two.

How has the response been so far to the new product?
The year 2023 is being considered as the international year of millets, which is why a lot of people are becoming aware of millet. So that helps us to market it better and most people we’re introducing the product to are surprised to find milk made from millets. We often hear them say, “wow, it’s millet mlk!” “We’ve tasted almond, oats, soy, but millet mlk, so far, no.”

As much as 60% of the Indian population is lactose intolerant and most of them are not even aware of it, so we were stunned by the consumption rate of our new product, millet mlk.

Tell us about your product portfolio.
We have nearly 50 SKUs (stock keeping units). Nourish You has four to five variants of quinoa, two varieties of chia, along with three to four varieties of muesli and in total we have 9-10 categories of products, currently.

Nourish You's product portfolio
Nourish You’s product portfolio

Are all products in your portfolio grown in India?
Most of the products are grown here because we prefer to stick to homegrown as our story started with homegrown quinoa and chia.

Is Nourish You a vegan brand?
Ever since we launched millet mlk we are also converting all the existing products into vegan. For example, our chocolate muesli had milk solids, which we have now removed.
We are planning to launch a vegan variety of mueslis, while also converting the fills into vegan by removing the milk solids from it. Therefore, Nourish You is transitioning into a clean-label homegrown super food brand.

How has your journey as a brand been so far?
Being innovative and introducing healthy products like quinoa, chia and millets is a long game. It is also tough as back in 2015 quinoa and chia were not as well-known as they are today.
When we launched Nourish You, three to four years of our efforts went into educating people about what quinoa and chia are.

With so many brands coming up in the superfood segment now, how do you plan to stay ahead of the competition?
Marketing plays a big role in staying ahead. Innovation is one part, but sales and marketing are a different game altogether.

In such cases, funding helps. With the right kind of money that we have right now, we are able to stay ahead. Even before the launch of millet we did many pre-launch activities including sampling, speaking to our target audience and taking their feedback.

We did this for six months and incorporated all the feedback. After the trials, the product underwent almost 180-degree change compared to what it was six months back. This is helping us stay ahead of the curve.

We wanted to stand apart from the others and that’s one of the reasons why we did not enter the milk alternatives or superfoods space like most others.

Millet pasta and millet noodles, etc. are standard but millet mlk comes as a surprise to many people.

Who are your key investors?
We just closed the first round and some of our key investors include Nikhil Kamath, co-founder of Zerodha; Rohit Chennnamaneni, co-founder of Unicorn Darwinbox; and Abhijeet Pai, co-founder of Gruhas Proptech. We also have a Singapore-based HNI (high net worth individual) investor Y Janardhana Rao of Triumph Group.
One of our investors is actress Samantha Ruth Prabhu, who is also our brand ambassador.

Recently, Nourish You’s brand ambassador Samantha Ruth Prabhu also invested in the brand.
L to R – Krishna Reddy, Samantha Ruth Prabhu, Sowmya Reddy

Where will millet mlk be available?
It will be available across India through our website, and also through Amazon and various vegan platforms.
We are present in Singapore, Dubai, Nepal, Mongolia and a few other countries. And we’ve received enquiries from at least 10 countries for millet mlk; let’s see how it evolves.

What are your plans for India?
In India, we are extremely bullish about millet mlk and the next range of products predominantly will fall under the alternate dairy category. We do have plans to come up with more innovative and disruptive products.

What is Nourish You’s annual turnover?
We are at an annual recurring revenue of close to Rs 8 crore but that was before the funding. We’ve been able to get 2x revenues…looking at the current trend for the next financial year, we’re on the verge of doubling our ARR comfortably.
We are banking on millet mlk to help us get there.

The beginning…
Nourish You’s journey started in 2012 when one of its founders travelled to South America to learn about the cultivation process of quinoa and chia seeds. To his surprise, the climatic conditions of the country were like India’s. The trip was followed by his quest to find out if the same crops could be grown in India, joined by his two partners.They discovered that Rajasthan is suitable to grow quinoa while belts of Karnataka are good to cultivate chia. Several rounds of trials and farmer education ensued. Three years later, Nourish You was launched in the Indian market by co-founders Sowmya Reddy (director), Rakesh Kilaru (chief executive officer), and Krishna Reddy.According to Reddy, Nourish You is India’s first brand to sell homegrown quinoa and chia; whatever was sold before was all imported.Reddy believes that the company transformed India from being an importer of these super food grains to being an exporter.Soon, the company expanded its portfolio by adding sunflower, flax, watermelon and pumpkin seeds. It then moved to launching value-added products like quinoa muesli; quinoa flour; teff flour; choco, berry and vanilla fills and cashew clusters. Nourish You recently launched millet mlk.
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