Starting an organic food store in your locality

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The business of organic produce has good returns because of the rising demand for organic produce driven by its health benefits. In spite of this, there are few or no organic stores or shops in most of our major towns in Kenya.

The organic sector is projected to reach more than 120 Million US dollars globally by the end of 2017 according to the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement (IFOAM). In Kenya, studies by Kenya Organic Agriculture Network (KOAN) have projected a growth of more than 20% on the retail sales and exports for organically grown products. This means the organic sector is one of the most promising areas where potential investors can put their money for higher returns.

Rise in lifestyle diseases

This is further propelled by an increase in consumers’ knowledge empowerment who are increasingly opting for food products that are organically grown for enhanced well-being. The healthy organic food industry is expected to experience fast growth, helped by other factors such as rise in population of those living with non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cancer and diabetes and the need to contain them.

All the above factors lead to a profitable and a rewarding sector for the right entrepreneur. But, what does it take to set up a healthy food store in the market or a town?

It requires passion

A person with a genuine passion in healthy eating habits, dieticians, organic food promoters, environmental enthusiasts and those with interests in alternative medicine are usually the best suited to run this type of business. Others would be those who would like to reach consumers of healthy diets. Although almost any entrepreneur with good business sense would be able to run a health food store, it certainly helps if you believe in what you are promoting and have a passion for it to follow through the dream. Hence, a need to learn marketing strategies or employ a salesperson to handle marketing function of the organic produce.

Capital and start up costs vary depending on the location and the nature of the store or the restaurant. The location should, however, be in an easily accessible area and factors such as parking should be considered for those venturing in high end markets.

The organic food stores or restaurants should be well designed and decorated to appeal and attract the customers. The organic mark or a banner communicating that the food has been grown organically should be strategically placed inside or outside the store where the customer can easily see and read.

Similar to any other business, the entrepreneur should consider developing an elaborate business plan for the food store or the restaurant. An elaborate business plan with clearly outlined and allocated budget that takes into consideration costs such as maintenance, repair, cleaning, packaging, logistics and the wages; contributes to the success of the organic business venture. It’s important to contact a local council to be issued with an official business permit and a health and safety regulations certification to ensure the right procedure for operating the business is followed.

Organic certification important

Certification of organic produce is an important document to have irrespective of whether it is a cereals store, a shop or a restaurant. Certification document assures the customers that the produce meets all the health requirements, hence a boost to the organic sales. If a farmer is involved in agribusiness and outsources for the organic produce; there is need to ask the suppliers for the copies of their organic certificate documents to ascertain the integrity of the produce. You may further need to visit them in their farms to confirm and build a stronger relationship.

KOAN, an umbrella body for organic practitioners provides information of certified organic farmers and companies which you may require to source for your supply. Certification reassures the wholesalers, retailers and consumers that the produce has been organically grown and conforms to the set organic standards.

It has good returns

A study commissioned by KOAN in 2015 shows that an organic food store in the right location can make a gross profit of up to 35% in a good week. So, if total sales for the week is KSh 100,000, then the proprietor can expect KSh 35,000 as gross profit. This is a good investment and an additional source of an income besides improved health.

Good management is important

Some of the daily chores for such a business are;

• Regular cleaning and arranging the organic produce on the displays and shelves.

• Serving customers including providing product advice.

• Preparing and placing orders.

• Unpacking and checking incoming orders.

• Cleaning and maintenance.

• Paperwork, which is often undertaken in the evenings.

Finally, it would be in the interest of the entrepreneur to get a mentor or contact organizations near him or her that have experience in organic farming. Enjoy a successful business journey of trading in organic produce.

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