A TREASURE trove that keeps on giving

“My product, like my name is both unique and uncommon” laughs JOPPU SEBASTIAN, Founder, PLANTER’S TREASURE.

In this day and age when everyone listens to the beck and call of processed products, this food entrepreneur has gone back to his roots. His forte? “Picked off trees” fresh passion fruit products. 
When asked about why he entered into the food industry, Joppu had this to say “Any idea that serves our basic need has a demand. People always want to be a part of it”. 
Planter’s Treasure has a big history behind it. What began as a small farm in 1776 later progressed into acres of plantations with a plethora of fruits and flora. Joppu tells me that 6 generations have been involved in the thriving plantation. It is thus no surprise that Joppu gave up his cushy corporate job at Mckinsey and company to embrace his love for nature and all it has to offer.

But this is not your usual plantation mind you; nestled in the quaint town of Nellimattom, on the foothills of Munnar, Planter’s Treasure has carried forward the legacy of extending chaste and natural products derived from its own orchards and farms.

“For us, it was an easy equation. Gravity pulls them down and we pick them up. It is as simple as that. Every product from our treasure is as natural as you can ever wish!” Joppu may be modest but I can assure you that a massive amount of work went in behind the scenes of his now successful products.

Passion fruit is an uncommon fruit in the Kochi market and Planter’s Treasure has made full use of that gap. Passion fruit is actually not as hyped up as it should be. Besides begin absolutely delicious, it is highly nutritious as well. Besides being an excellent source of antioxidants, vitamins A and C and minerals, it also helps regulate cholesterol and acts as a mood enhancer! It is however, a rather temperamental crop and requires high maintenance, which is probably why it is not cultivated as much in India.

“We want to make Planter’s Treasure an experience” and thus to achieve this, months of market research went in, with almost a month taken on packaging style designs. Each product is almost completely handcrafted, with less than 10% mechanization involved. The star behind the delicious preserves, juice and concentrate is Joppu’s mother, whose special secret recipes have brought in several ardent fans and recurring customers. 
“We believe in giving life to our products, which is why we make only handcrafted ones. Mechanized products have no life” says Joppu. And I rightly agree! Every single bottle that leaves the farm has its own identity. Don’t believe me? Then you need to examine their bottle of concentrate a little closer. On the side you would notice a red fingerprint. This is the print of the person who made and bottled the product. If that not unique and personalized, I don’t know what is. Also, only 5000 bottles of concentrate are made in one batch. The sample bottle Joppu provided me, made me one of the elite patrons to indulge in some passion fruit goodness!

Planter’s Treasure has the niche segment as their target audience. A sampling was done amongst 50 people from the premium segment along with an online presence. But overall, word of mouth has been their best friend. “Kochiites are ready for an exposure to gourmet products” says Joppu “Kochi is an unexplored, virgin market. Here, you can create your own market.”
The price of the product was initially a sore spot for some consumers but one taste and they were hooked! And for good!

Planter’s Treasure has been in the market for over one and a half years and the going was pretty tough in the beginning. “I started the business with just Rs.40,000 in hand” shares Joppu “Making a business work requires 100% of your time and effort. You need to get out of your comfort zone and push to reach your goal. Most importantly, don’t depend on another person achieve success.” Joppu does not believe in a vast array of offerings. He believes in a small selection of products that are of the highest quality. And this mantra seems to have worked. Pandal and Gourmet House are two places where you can enjoy Planter’s Treasure products but you’ll have to hurry because most of the time stocks run out! Such is the climbing popularity of the brand.
Planter’s Treasure believes in a strong give and take policy. What they take from nature, they return in abundance. Joppu wants to turn his village in Nellimattom into a Passion fruit village. Therefore, anyone who visits the farm is given 3 passion fruit plants to adorn their garden. To give a sense of means and purpose to the aged folks in his village, Joppu has them actively involved in the processing of the products.

I was given all three of this Passion Fruit products to sample. The first was the “Jus De Passion” which is pure Passion Fruit juice. Probably the first of its kind of bottled fresh juice in Kochin. These bottles have a shelf life of 24 hours and have to be refrigerated at all times. Once opened, it is best enjoyed in one go. And enjoy it I did, the bottle I was given was still cool and totally hit the spot! It was light and refreshing and I did understand why the crowd clamoured for this bottle of delight! Incidentally, the bottles are all recycled, so once you have your drink, you can return the bottle and receive Rs.80 off! The second product I tried was the Passion fruit preserve. Joppu suggested having it with some cheese and crackers and even spreading it in puddings and ice creams. I had it atop some mango pudding and it was fantastic! The preserve complimented the mango beautifully and took the pudding to a completely new level! The final product I tried was the “Fruit de la Passion”, Passion fruit concentrate. I served it to some guests who had come home and they asked me if the concentrate was made at home. I tried a glass (ok fine! Several glasses) myself and I have to admit that I haven’t tasted something as delightful and pure in a long time! I can’t go any further without mentioning the gorgeous packaging of each of the products! Obviously, my utmost favourite was the packaging of the concentrate. 

The wax seal with the Planter’s Treasure logo was such a lovely touch, I did mention the fingerprint earlier on. One has to break through the seal in order to open the bottle. I didn’t want to spoil the packaging and almost cried when I broke through the seal! The juice bottle was like pure sunshine! The colour of the juice went perfectly with the screw on top and it was like visiting a tropical paradise!
Planter’s Treasure certainly creates an experience of itself! With plans to get into Mulberry next Joppu signs off saying “This is where I belong!”

0 thoughts on “A TREASURE trove that keeps on giving”

  1. Happened to taste passion fruit juice from Planter's ofcourse! �� and its not a surprise that it left me wanting for more as it really refreshes the mind and I am just loving it.�� Great going Joppu Sir !! Thank you for the innovation which brings human closer to nature.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *