The controversy over presence of excessive lead content in Maggi noodles is expected to help the business of organic and health food industry.
The organic food product distributors in the city are confident that growing awareness about the harmful effects of chemicals in food would help attract more customers.
"One of our USPs is that the food grown organically does not contain pesticide residues and so is free from harmful chemicals, including lead. We are sure that growing health awareness triggered by this controversy will help increase sales," said Ashish Kataria, director of Organic Sansar, a retail-cum-wholesale outlet based in Indore.
Nutrition experts also believe that people are now more aware of the harmful effects of some packaged food.
"While it is important that the food is free from any chemical residue, at the same time it should be consumed in a natural manner (and) without addition of preservatives and artificial colours," said nutrition expert Kuldeep Chhabra.
Even though awareness about the health benefits of organic food is on the rise thanks to the internet, and a wide range of options are now available in major retail outlets, sales volume of organic food products remains low in tier-II cities. Industry players are now planning to increase focus on snacks.
"There are a number of snacks, including poha, dalia and wheat flakes, that could be a substitute for noodles," Kataria said.
Sales growth, though encouraging, serves a tiny base. "When we launched our operations five years ago, a small percentage of people were aware, but today I think 10-15% people in the city are aware about the health benefits of organic food," he said.
However, one hurdle in the segment’s rise is that the cost of organic food is a bit steep. Manufacturers say a number of factors lead to high costs of chemical-free products.
One reason is that transportation costs are high as the companies source it directly from the farm instead of mandis. Then, it has to be packaged to meet international standards.
The dealers’ margins are also higher as volumes are low.