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Kerala Woman Turns her Organic Food Processing Home Business into a Successful Start-up

Jackfruit and tapioca are transformed into organic mixtures by a Keralan woman who then sells them throughout India and the United Arab Emirates.

Chintu Das
Francy Joshimon
Francy Joshimon

Francy Joshimon, a woman entrepreneur from Kerala was shocked to learn in 2018 that her father had cancer. They began looking for healthy and organic food items that could help him maintain better health while receiving therapy. But to their surprise, there weren't a lot of choices available in the neighborhood market.

Francy lost her father a few months later, it was an incident that completely changed her life.

She made the decision to bring about change on her own in order to stop further occurrences of this nature. A few months after her father passed away, she founded a small company called Minnus Fresh Food out of her house in Karalam, Thrissur, Kerala, to produce nutritious and organic food items.

The brand, which bears her daughter's name, offers mixes and value-added goods created with jackfruits, millets, and other components. These, according to Francy, are completely chemical and preservative free.

The brand, which began in 2018 with a few jackfruit-based items, now sells over 50 different organic product variants and even exports outside of India.

Beginning Modestly With Fewer Goods

Making homemade jackfruit puttu powder with a small all-women team was how Francy launched her business. "At the time, jackfruit and its health advantages were the subject of extensive discussion. We opted to focus on jackfruit first after conducting extensive research and consulting with specialists from Kerala Agriculture University," says Francy, who has only completed up to class 12.

In addition to puttu powder, she continues, "we also produced a few jackfruit and millet-based products, such as immunity boosters and health mixes, which were primarily distributed to cancer patients in neighbouring areas through various social groups.

Francy made the decision to establish a processing unit in 2019 when her business eventually began to grow.

She set up the necessary equipment for processing and packing in the unit with the assistance of her husband Joshimon, a mechanical engineer, after taking the advice of the university's experts.

"For the machinery, we obtained a loan for Rs. 15.5 lakh. We invested almost Rs 30 lakh from our own personal funds in just setting up the building, she adds.

Organic Ingredients Produced by Nearby Farms

Francy introduced more value-added goods as the company grew by utilising a variety of raw materials, including bananas, tapioca, wheat, millets, and others. We always make sure to employ premium, organic raw materials in the creation of our products. They are completely cleaned and dried after sourcing, and then we process and turn them into other goods," she says.

She claims that all of the raw materials are grown organically and are obtained from neighbourhood farmers in and around her Thrissur village. "Farmers in this area frequently struggle to locate a reliable market for goods including jackfruit, tapioca, bananas, and turmeric. Therefore, when we purchase their goods, we ensure that they receive a fair price, she says, noting that goods like the rice needed to manufacture puttu powder are grown on her own property.

"Every year, we harvest about 2,500 kilos of rice. We use it for our business rather than directly selling it, she claims.

Additionally, Minnus Fresh sells health mixtures for between 50 and 350 rupees. Additionally, they provide a variety of conventional snacks including chakka varatti and banana chips.

According to Francy, on average, the company currently sells 400 kg of puttu powder, 250 kg of chips, 100 kilogramme of rice powder, and 50 kg of health mix per year.

Francy reports that there are eight different types of puttu powder, with jackfruit, jackfruit ragi, banana mix, banana mix ragi, tapioca, bran mix germinated rice, sprouted ragi, and sprouted wheat being the fastest-selling.

Initial Challenge

However, they encountered a significant obstacle when they first started their company. The length of our products' shelf lives posed the biggest problem. We found it challenging to promote our organic products because of their short shelf lives and complete lack of preservatives, she notes.

"To discover a solution for the shelf life of our products, we met with a few experts from the Kerala Agricultural University. They requested us to dry the items in accordance with their moisture content after many tests that lasted for around six months and advised we make a few tweaks to the formulations and processing techniques, which would help the products stay fresh for longer, she says.

In Kerala, local stores, supermarkets, and Kudumbashree outlets serve as the main distribution channels for Minnus Fresh Food Products. Facebook and WhatsApp are also used for sales.

Additionally, our items are sold to the UAE, where there is a significant market, adds Francy, who is currently anticipating the growth of her business.

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