The Betel Leaf Co plans to open 50 Dark Stores & franchisee outlets by 2024
Forty something Prem Raheja often suffered from a bloated stomach, especially after meals. Not wanting to depend excessively on medicines, he approached his dietician to find out if there existed some home remedies. His dietician told him to chew Paan after consuming a meal. If the humble Paan is so effective, how come there are no dedicated brands selling it,? wondered Raheja. Or are there any?
Egged on by the thought, Raheja started researching on it, and soon found out why the Paan lacks the respect despite being so good for health is because of its limited availability, not-so-good packaging and most sales that happen through shabby kiosks. He also learnt that there was no standardisation of Paan – it varies from shop to shop. Further, he noticed that many Paan shops were using low-grade Betel leaves.
Passionate about according Paan the status it deserves, Raheja launched The Beter Leaf Co – in 2019 – as a D2C brand, offering 100 per cent tobacco-free Paan. The first online retail store of The Betel Leaf Co, started in Bengaluru, along with the simultaneous opening of multiple Dark Stores in a number of cities. At all these outlets, he introduced as many as 45 flavours of Paan, including Cognac, Chocolate, Blueberries, Cherries, Coffee, besides the traditional Saada and Meetha Paan. He also assembled an efficient Delivery Team.
Strawberry-coated Meetha Paan
Talking about Dark Stores, Raheja says, “Dark Stores have dimly-lit kitchens in which Paan recipes are prepared. They are then neatly covered in triple-layered foils and placed in attractive green boxes to prevent contamination.”
Significantly, even during the lockdown, the TBLC served its customers with the same level of quality and commitment. “In fact, the pandemic actually catapulted our growth and customer trust,” he says, adding that the lockdown acted like a teacher that taught the importance of adaptability and resilience.
“Paan is an excellent Indian dessert with a history dating back to 5000 years. An integral component of Indian culture and cuisine, it is one of the best post-meal snacks, and a healthy one at that. Thanks to the Westernisation, it fell out of favour. My endeavour is to bring it back to everyone’s table once again,” he adds.
Milk Chocolate-coated Paan
A CLASS APART
“We are one of the first D2C Paan brands to receive FSSAI certification, and we set ourselves apart by ensuring that all our Paan products are completely tobacco-free, appropriate for all ages, and delivered straight to your home. Also, we are the first D2C paan brand to introduce a monthly and annual membership,” he says.
To keep the Paans fresh, these are packed in a three-layered nitrogen vacuum pillow pouche artfully heaped in boxes with a rose-flavored wet wipe to clean hands. More so, Paans are packaged using methods that keep them fresh without any preservative for up to 95 hours. “Our goal is to make Paan a joyful way to end your dinner,” says Raheja.
Out of the 8000 orders submitted each month, 3000 boxes are for Magai, showing that Classic Paans remain the consumer favourite. About 80 per cent people prefer Flavour-Infused Paans like Chocolate, Coffee, or Tiramisu. “Consumers prefer flavoured Paans after indulging in a connoisseur-style dinner, such as an Italian meal at a restaurant. The Coffee-Flavoured Paan, is one of our best-sellers,” he says.
PAAN, A HEALTH POTION
The Paan leaves are an excellent source of calcium and micronutrients, including thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, and carotene, as well as Vitamin C, which supports digestion and oral health.
One of the well-liked varieties of Betel Leaf is the Magai leaf – bigger and thicker than others it is perfect for encasing a variety of fillings like sweets and spices. These leaves have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial qualities, which help enhance immunity and promote oral health, aid in digestion and ease the symptoms of gastrointestinal ailments.
PRESENT & FUTURE FORWARD
Today, TBLC has 36 stores across 12 states in 18 cities like Mumbai, Chennai, Pune, Hyderabad, Mysore, Vizag, Ahmedabad, Delhi, Gurgaon and cities in Rajasthan, among others. The TBLC would soon be launching its products across entire India – it has plans to open 50 Dark Stores by 2024. “The dark stores allow us to maintain high standards of quality and freshness, while also ensuring speedy delivery,” he says.
“We also intend to explore expanding abroad in the coming year, in areas like Canada, London, Singapore, and Dhaka. Towards the middle of next year, we may potentially decide to create The Betel Leaf Co. retail outlets through franchisees,” he signs off.
Edited by Upasana Kaura