Amidst the global pandemic, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged India to go vocal for local, it received collective appreciation and acceptance. There have been several efforts in the past to strengthen Indian economies through procurement and consumption, but due to lack of institutional support, these initiatives either failed or could not start. Moreover, some of the approaches were either restrictive or not aligned with the contemporary globalized world. But, now one of the biggest advantages of ‘vocal for local’ is that it will provide micro, small and medium enterprises a unique identity.
In lieu of the same, we got to talk to Mr. Paras Patel, Co-Founder, Unloq Foods about the significance of ‘Vocal for Local’ for the Indian startup ecosystem. Unloq Foods is an Indian brand of all-natural instant drink mixes. They sell all-natural (no preservatives, artificial colors and flavors) beverage products and wholly support the PM’s call for ‘Vocal for Local’. Their products are envisioned and manufactured in India, and their flavors are truly desi (Sharbats like Nimbu Pani, Kokum Jamun, Amla Lemon anyone).
Q1. What does ‘Being Vocal for Local’ mean for Indian economy?
In very simple terms, it means supporting Indian makers, manufacturers, businessmen, entrepreneurs. At the grassroots level, it is supporting the Indian farmer, on who we all depend. It’s a call to start believing in indigenous goods and producers.
Q2. Will it not isolate India from the global economy?
We don’t think so. After the pandemic is over, it is in the best interests of the country that we localize our businesses and employs our own people. Look at how countries like China, Germany, Japan have benefitted from such a policy.
It is also estimated that among the BRIC nations, India looks the most promising when it comes to becoming a manufacturing force to reckon with. So this is in tune with the estimates of experts.
Q3. What is the significance of ‘Vocal for Local’ in the startup ecosystem?
Imagine finding everything you need to run your startup smoothly in one place – that is how ‘Vocal for Local’ excites our ecosystem. Being a food and beverage company, finding raw materials like food ingredients along with the latest technology and processes within our backyards will mean we can save on time, money, and energy to procure and market our products.
Q4. How will you achieve ‘vocal for local’?
We make instant drink mixes and instant soup mixes that are all-natural, with no added colors, flavors, or preservatives. That means picking the freshest ingredients like fruits, vegetables, and herbs which is very important to us. Going big on ‘local’ will not just make our products healthier as native foods are known to do, but will also help the Indian farmer. Our research team regularly scouts Indian cities and towns that grow the raw materials we use to make our products. No wonder there is no competitor with desi flavors and combinations like ours.
So ‘Vocal for Local’ has always been our driving force.
Q5. What should be the revival strategies of startups post COVID-19?
We cannot speak for start-ups across various sectors but everyone will strategize uniquely.
One thing that gives us, Unloq Foods, a headstart in the post COVID world is that our products have immunity boosters in abundance. Our all-natural water-based instant drink mixes have flavors called ‘Amla Lemon’, ‘Ganne ka ras’, ‘Nariyal Pani’, ‘Nimbu Pani’, ‘Kokum Jamun’ to name a few. These premixes became a hit with families that have children during the lockdown period.
Similarly, our all-natural instant milkshake mixes are made up of banana, custard apple, mango, strawberry which parents chose to serve milk with these premixes instead of the carbonated, fizzy drinks to their children during this phase. Most interestingly, our all-natural instant tomato soup mixes flew off the grocery stores as hot beverages and soups became the chosen food items to fight Corona, cough, and cold in every household.
Looking forward, we intend to go big on immunity boosters in most of our compositions while keeping the products delicious for our customers. We are also looking at adjusted pricing and volumes of our products, both in retail and wholesale.
Q6. Is India still attractive for foreign investments and which are the sectors looking good?
As the largest democracy in the world, our manpower will always be attractive to the global economy. That said, ‘Vocal for Local’ is a great way to get back on our feet in a post COVID world. Once we do recover, this policy will ensure Indian businesses move ahead swiftly and become lucrative in the world market again.
Let’s not forget that not just India but every country has taken a hit in this crisis. Every nation will need to reflect and take action. Our country head has given us a quick call to action and it makes sense to uplift our fellow countrymen in various sectors before we look outwards. The forces of economy, namely supply and demand, will take care of the rest, locally as well as globally.
Food and beverage, IT, health sector will definitely get a headstart over others.