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!