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From Attur to Australia: This D2C brand delivers traditional superfood to global palates

Founded in 2019 by Kiru Maikapillai, Salem-based D2C brand offers a range of superfoods and health products such as turmeric, moringa, millets, honey, and skincare.

From Attur to Australia: This D2C brand delivers traditional superfood to global palates

Monday May 06, 2024 , 5 min Read

While working in the United States in 2018, Kiru Maikapillai noticed a unique pattern in supermarket chains. He discovered many products that were region-specific, such as Manuka honey from New Zealand or the Japanese Ponzu sauce. But he was unable to find any Indian products in these markets. 

“Even if other products were niche or premium, they were readily available across all supermarkets. Despite India’s rich culinary tradition, there weren’t many traditional products in these stores,” Kiru tells YourStory

Soon after, the techie quit his job at Citizens Bank in 2019 to move back to his hometown, Attur in Salem, Tamil Nadu. 

That’s when he set out to build The Divine Foods in 2019, a D2C brand that specialises in traditional superfoods. 

In quest of starting a company to take homegrown products globally, Kiru began with a staple ingredient of every Indian household —turmeric. 

“I recall seeing turmeric and cardamom stored in small capsules in those stores abroad. These were something that were organically grown from my hometown. That’s how I chose to build the company and make high-quality turmeric that’s free from preservatives,” Kiru explains. 

Health benefits

Turmeric is found in nearly every dish in India, making it a common kitchen staple. The widespread usage inspired the founder to consider building products centred around the ingredient. What began with turmeric, soon led to the creation of other products made up of moringa, millets, and honey, including foraying into a range of health and skincare products. 

“The turmeric produced in Salem has a unique property of Curcumin—with antiseptic and antibiotic properties, which is an age-old medicine in Indian culture. In local supermarkets, when you check the labels of turmeric products, they usually have curcumin levels of around 1 or 2%. However, in Salem, the turmeric has a higher curcumin percentage, ranging from 3 to 5%,” he says. 

Divine Foods

Organic Golden Milk Latte

Curcumin levels are the main active ingredient in turmeric, which provides various health benefits. Studies have shown that curcumin possesses antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective properties, and is used for the treatment of neurological disorders, depression, and other health conditions.

The startup offers many other products such as the Paruthi Paal-Cotton Seed Instant Latte Mix, a remedy for cold and to ease menstrual cramps; organic Coconut Sugar, a natural sweetener and sugar alternative derived from coconut palm sap; and organic Moringa Honey Spread, which helps in detoxifying the gut. 

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Empowering farmers of Salem

The startup sources turmeric directly from over 50 farmers in Salem. It also has a manufacturing unit located in the same town. 

The unique selling proposition (USP) of Divine Foods lies in the elimination of intermediaries such as middlemen and Mandis to deliver high-quality products directly to consumers. It ensures that customers receive premium goods without the complications of a traditional supply chain.

Some of its competitors include Slurrp Farm, Yogabar, and The Whole Truth Foods who also offer no-preservative and baby food products.

Divine Foods

Kiru Maikkapillai, CEO and Founder, Divine Foods at the manufacturing unit in Salem, Tamil Nadu

“We differentiate ourselves by prioritising quality over speed in delivery, taking five to seven working days to deliver the fresh, small-batch products which are free from preservatives. However, they would have a shorter shelf life,” he adds. 

By sourcing turmeric directly from farmers, the Divine Foods has created many other products, such as Organic Golden Milk Latte, a natural detox drink; and ABC powder i.e., Apple + Beetroot + Carrot powder. The products are in the range of Rs 500 to Rs 1,000. 

Future plans

Maikapillai built Divine Foods with an initial investment of Rs 10-15 lakh. Last year, the 25-member startup sealed an investment for an undisclosed amount by actress Nayanthara and her husband, director Vignesh Shivan, to scale up its infrastructure and expand its product line. It has also been granted the TANSEED 4.0 grant from the Tamil Nadu government, which provides up to Rs 10 lakh. 

The Divine Foods is soon planning to expand its product line with baby care products. Last month, it launched Navalac, a solid food option for toddlers, which is made of nine essential grains. The product contains zero sugar and salt, and is made out of easily digestible roasted millets.

India is expected to become a $30 billion market for health food by 2026, says a Avendus report. 

Currently, the products are available both online via their official website and retail chains, with a market presence in the USA, the UK, Australia, Singapore, and Canada. 

Divine Foods

Plant-based protein Navalac made of nine grains

“With the government's help, we have broadened our product range to include Moringa-based products, which is known for its antioxidant properties. Initially, we had limited our operations to just a few areas for the first two to three years. We were then able to expand our operations to include Moringa sourced from Kerala, along with a few coconut-based products. This expansion allowed us to scale up our operations significantly,” Kiru notes. 

The startup is currently catering to over 8,000 Indian customers in a month, primarily women aged between 25 to 50 years old who are predominantly purchasing the products online. 

“This includes women during pregnancy and postpartum, as they often prioritise natural food options during this time. Our turmeric latte has emerged as one of our bestsellers, with over 50% of customers being repeat buyers,” he notes. 

The founder believes that a substantial portion of the Moringa produced in Kurur, Tamil Nadu is also being shipped to Cuba.

“One of our major challenges lies in educating people about the abundance of native and superfoods available in Tamil Nadu. Not many people are aware of its true value, and we are trying to scale it to other cities in India and globally,” the founder says. 


Edited by Megha Reddy