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A Nectar Fresh™ story

2012 September 25
by Shalini

In my last post, you heard a little about the decline in the honey industry in Coorg. Recently, I’ve been hearing some buzz about a dynamic young entrepreneur from Coorg who is making waves in the business of honey in India. Naturally, I had to make a beeline to the source, to find out more!  Chayaa Nanjappa is the owner of Nectar Fresh™, a company she founded, and now runs along with her business partner, Mr. Rajappa. In conversation with her, the energy and enthusiasm were palpable, as she shared the details of how she got started in the business of processing and marketing honey.

Pride of place

Chayaa was born in South Coorg (Nalkeri). An only child, she describes her childhood years as being sheltered, and very conventional. She studied in Mysore, attending Teresians, and Christ the King Convent for pre-university. For personal reasons, she had to discontinue her formal education but pursued her interest in current affairs, and gained a diploma in mass communications by correspondence. She says she loved gardening, and cooking, and there were no early indications of the dormant entrepreneur in her. There was no background of business entrepreneurship in the immediate family either, as both her parents were teachers.

In her late twenties she moved to Bangalore, where she was determined to make her own way. Finding her feet in an urban environment for the first time, and despite the lack of a degree in hospitality management, Chayaa impressed enough at the interview to land a job in public relations at a leading hotel in Bangalore.This was a field she thrived in, and she recalls her time in the hospitality industry with great fondness.

In 2007, she quit her job to start a honey processing unit in Bangalore. On the inspiration behind this, she says that she wanted to prove herself by starting something on her own, and knew it had to be something connected to her native Coorg. So honey seemed a natural choice, and the name “Nectar Fresh” just popped into her head! Now that’s inspired!

Initially, Chayaa took a small loan from her mother and also pledged her jewellery. State Bank of India Hyderabad, and Khadi and Village Industries were early supporters of her venture. She went to Pune to learn the ropes of quality control and processing at the Central Bee Research and Training Institute.

It goes without saying that it was hard work all the way, and there were many setbacks. But by 2010, she relocated the now fast expanding business to Mysore. The unit processed, packaged and labelled honey for the pharmaceutical, ayurveda, and hospitality sectors. Chayaa proudly points out that today, her company is behind almost every top brand in the country. With quality control being the highest priority, the company has the distinction of being the only ISO 22000-2005 Certified Honey Unit in South India.

From supplying other brands, Nectar Fresh has moved on to marketing honey and related products under its own label, across India and abroad. They source varieties of monofloral honey from across India, from certified apiaries, and also from small suppliers in tribal areas of Northern Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh. Recently, Nectar Fresh’s clover honey (her personal favourite) sourced from Kashmir was approved for export to the EU. The unit’s output of processed honey is set to jump from 30 tonnes per month to 150 tonnes per month, once new equipment from Germany is installed. Honey sourced from Coorg is very limited right now, but Chayaa has long-term plans for reviving production there. Putting the “Coorg” back in Coorg honey, so to speak!

Golden hamper The business of honey Waiting to grow
Pictures courtesy Chayaa Nanjappa

Today, Chayaa is a member of the National Bee Board, and Nectar Fresh is set to expand its presence in the global market. That is a remarkable success story by any measure. But Chayaa, who should be justifiably proud of her achievements, is firm in her belief that if she could overcome her personal setbacks and lack of business experience with hard work and perseverance, then anyone is capable of doing the same. She wants to inspire people with the same “can do” spirit that has brought her through tough times.

Nectar Fresh has recently diversified into jam and papad manufacturing, with the company reviving ailing cottage industries by providing up-to-date training methods and upgrades to the processing equipment.

Empowering the underprivileged by providing them with the means to a livelihood is clearly in the Nectar Fresh philosophy, but there is also a strong philanthropic impulse in Chayaa. She is involved with charitable organizations for the elderly and the rural poor, and considers Abalashrama, a home for destitute women and orphaned girls, a cause close to her heart. This spirit of giving back to society comes to her from her parents, and her father, the late Paruvangada P. Nanjappa was one of the first Kodavas to donate his body to science.Chayaa herself is a registered organ donor, and wants to raise awareness of the importance of the cause.

Outside of work, Chayaa still loves gardening, and speaks animatedly about landscaping the Nectar Fresh compound with plants from Coorg, especially her favourite orchids. In another bit of exciting news, she tells me that she plans an outlet for assorted produce from Coorg at the Mysore factory, including avocados! Could there be a better combination than Nectar Fresh honey and avocados?!

By the end of the interview, I can’t help but feel optimistic about the prospect of a Coorg honey renaissance, with Chayaa, and Nectar Fresh leading the way. I guess that “can do” attitude must be catching!

Here’s wishing Chayaa continued and growing success! 🙂

How does the garden grow?

15 Responses leave one →
  1. backbencher permalink
    September 28, 2012

    This is a sweet success story , tremendous ! 150 tonnes of honey is a lot of sweetness indeed. Many wonderful achievements and I am sure more to come . I believe they will soon be entering the the retail sector with their jams and preserves , currently they are supplying supplying to the hospitality sector . It gets nicer and sweeter . The clover honey is available in the Indian Market I believe ?
    Heart warming her cause for helping destitute women and orphan girls . Honey and avocados an unbeatable combination yes . I am sure her endeavours in Coorg will give the cottage industry a wonderful fillip .
    Will watch out for all these lovely honey varieties and jams for sure .

  2. September 28, 2012

    Absolutely agree, Jyoti! This was the exciting news on the honey front that I was waiting for, and I couldn’t have dreamed up a more perfect ambassador 🙂 Chayaa is so passionate about making Coorg honey a household name, and with the guarantee of top quality. I’m not sure if the clover honey is currently in the Indian market, but she did mention that much of it is seasonal. There are some really interesting “flavours” that I’ve never tried, like ajwain!

  3. backbencher permalink
    September 29, 2012

    We decided to step out for a bite and though the Swami wanted to eat fish and chips , I dragged him to “Coorg” a charming rooftop restaurant on Shri Krishna Temple Road in Indiranagar . Nice place food just like it would be at home .. I am digressing… I could see form the corner of my beady eyes bottles of Honey standing gleaming even more golden under the an overhead light in a charming bamboo shade . After a lovely meal we made our way up there to find that Nectar Fresh it was. So I picked up a bottle of Coorg Honey and one of Clover Honey. They had the Ajwain Honey as well. Priya Aiyappa who runs the restaurant said that the Ajwain flavour was very mild . The Karnataka government has been promoting bee keeping for some time .At my Father in Law’s home they had two bee boxes which yielded enough honey for the home and some to gift friends as well. A person from the goverment agency would come to process the honey for you . Sweet bliss indeed a slice of Coorg in your own Urban Garden. Now the garden which was full of flowers and fruit trees has gone , but the bee boxes remain. Yes Sharat says during annual leave in Coorg procuring the requisite amount of honey was one of the most important tasks . Will open the bottle tomorrow and report the tastings . Cant wait for breakfast. Why not now you ask incredulously ? Am too stuffed to do it justice , Priya makes a sinful tender coconut pudding and a wicked caramel custard…. what can I say , the test of the pudding is in the eating and both puddings passed it with flying colours . The two bottles are sitting at my bedside table ….. the night is still young, may just go in for a spoonful… or two.:-)

    • maanutrients permalink
      October 5, 2012

      Hey… Glad that you picked up our clover honey…. it is one of the best honey.
      Ajjwain honey in not mild.It is good for stomach ache and digestive process.

      We shall have a write up about the different honey variants available.
      We are one of the very few people in India to give you varieties of honeys.

      Do try our Acacia, lychee & ajjwain honey variants, the quality & bottling are simple unresistable.

      Thanks for you views

      Suma
      Maa Nutrients
      Bangalore Stockiest – Nectar Fresh Coorg Honey

  4. backbencher permalink
    September 30, 2012

    It was lovely we tried some and hogged some and sighed contentedly… like pigs in clover 🙂 Next up the Coorg Honey and will submit report.

  5. September 30, 2012

    Well done, intrepid reporter! 🙂 Now my list of places to go, and things to eat is expanding, as is the girth, in sympathetic anticipation!
    I remember the “society men” coming around to unload the bee boxes. And I got handed a nice chunk of honeycomb to chew on. And on.
    I wonder if you could put those bee boxes to use again, somehow.
    Great job testing three of the Nectar Fresh range! I would really love to try the ajwain one myself.

    ps:Sorry for the slow response- I had to step out in search of more honey…

  6. October 1, 2012

    This is a really good success story. Somehow it seems that all the entrepreneurs in today’s world seem to gravitate towards technology and all the new age IT industries. Chaya Namjappa’s success story is proof that there is money to be made by working with the soil and by holistically developing and marketing the products of nature. Chaya has proved that there is scope for India’s entrepreneurs to diversify into areas that are not traditionally big business driven and excel and flourish by combining a love for nature along with an intrepid sense of daring-do and innovation. I myself am one of the best private detectives in Mumbai. Yes one of those rare female breeds in the Indian private investigation scene and I too jumped into my profession realising that there is lot of scope for improvement in the standards and services of my profession and after 7 long years I can finally say that I am taken seriously in my profession. This is perhaps testimony to the fact that women should and can enter professions and areas for which they have a passion and must combine it with persistence to attain success!

    • October 1, 2012

      Welcome, Sunita 🙂 what a very interesting and unusual career choice you’ve made!
      Not to diminish anyone’s achievements in any way, but, you’re right, it does sometimes feel like Tech and IT related success stories are all we ever hear about today.
      What Chayaa has achieved so far with Nectar Fresh is remarkable- a really inspiring success story for any budding entrepreneurs out there.
      And I believe she will inspire many more people in a personal way,with her upbeat attitude to what can be achieved with hard work and perseverance.

      • November 18, 2012

        Hi Shalini. Thanks for replying and yes it is an unusual profession for a lady but I gravitated towards it because of my husband who was into this profession earlier and it didnt take long for me to learn the ropes so to speak 🙂 Yes the great thing about the economy in India today is the fact that we have a population that has needs and these are not just IT related! Manufacturing, food technology and agriculture is an area that not too many youngsters are interested in but can reap huge dividends for those who can delve a bit deep and research the market. The Chinese success story is heavily skewed towards manufacturing. I for myself have also recently entered the space of residential security companies in Mumbai because security for urban dwellers is a huge concern due to growing crime rates and the high vulnerability factor in cities where everyone leads an anonymous existence. I hope Chaya’s nectar fresh success will at least spur men and women into taking offbeat routes to entrepreneurship wherein one can bring real value that the masses of India really need.

  7. backbencher permalink
    October 7, 2012

    @ Ma Nutrients . The clover Honey was splendid . Where else do you stock your products ? Thank You Shalini for this post , we got to some really lovely honey .

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