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Fresh carrots from Nilgiris get a branded push

R Sathyanarayana, Feb 12, 2015,Chennai, Dhns 22:53 IST

Lawrencedale claims to deliver farm-fresh veggies

Lawrencedale Agro Processing has come out with a new concept of delivering fresh vegetables without losing their nutritional value under the brand 'Leaf' to retail outlets.  Dh File Photo.
Lawrencedale Agro Processing has come out with a new concept of delivering fresh vegetables without losing their nutritional value under the brand ‘Leaf’ to retail outlets.
It has kicked off with carrots, freshly pulled from the gardens of Nilgiris. Procuring, processing, and selling the beta-carotene-rich vegetable are all accomplished in under a day.

Lawrencedale is tapping into its rich experience of selling more than 15 tonnes of fresh carrots in Karnataka every day. It has now set up a huge vegetable processing unit in Coimbatore with a capacity to handle 100 tonnes.

Lawrencedale, which is funded by George Soros' Economic Development Fund-backed Aspada Investments, has already invested Rs 15 crore for procuring a vegetable processing unit from New Zealand. Aspada invested $2 million for a 40 per cent stake in Lawrencedale Agro recently.

“As part of our business extension plans, the money was utilised to import vegetable processing units and improve the end-to-end cold chain,” the company’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) P Vijayaraghavan said.

“Vegetables retain their freshness as they are transported by our fleet of refrigerated vans to retail stores in hygienically packed packets.

All our produce lands at retail shelves in nutrition-preserved packaging, which makes them the obvious choice for consumers,” R Balakrishnan, Lawrencedale Agro Processing Chief Financial Officer and co-founder, told Deccan Herald.

According to him, the concept of laser-perforated food grade packing, which retains freshness and nutrition from modified atmospheric packaging, ensures hygiene by preventing contamination.

“Our processing factory ensures zero-residue across products by adopting latest innovation in washing,” Balakrishnan said, adding that his company takes back the pack if even one of the carrots are even slightly broken.

At present, Lawrencedale supplies to more than 40 major retail chains, including Elite in Bengaluru, Nilgiris, Aditya Birla More, FoodWorld, and Auchan, besides outlets in Andhra Pradesh and Kerala.

The root vegetable, once native to Europe and Southwestern Asia, is now a popular farm produce among Nilgiris farmers. As per the State Horticulture’s Department’s latest statistics, the Nilgiris district, which includes Coonoor, Kothagiri, Kullisholai, and Nanjanad, produces more than 100 tonnes of carrots a day.

“Currently, ‘Leaf’ sources, processes and transports about 15 tonnes of carrots a day. Soon after our Coimbatore unit starts operating by March end, we will be able to handle about 50 tonnes a day,” Vijayaraghavan claimed. The company is targeting revenues of Rs 70 crore from next year.

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