On a mission to usher in a smoothie culture (Foodie Trail-Hyderabad)

Hyderabad, July 9 : In this age of fast food and canned drinks, here's an option for people looking for something natural and fresh.

Want to relish a fresh fruit shake, looking to savour something healthy and delicious, a drink to detoxify your body or to replace your meal? The wide range of smoothies from Drunken Monkey caters to all.

Meeting over coffee or tea is a part of the culture in India but how about meeting over a smoothie, a blend of three or four fruits? Samrat Reddy, founder and managing director of Drunken Monkey, aims to change the culture and do something that Starbuck did with the coffee.

Since its launch in 2016 here, the smoothie bar chain has grown rapidly and currently has 60 outlets in 16 Indian cities, offering blended fresh-fruit smoothies and juices in over 170 combinations.

The smoothies are available in different categories like avocado, veggie, protein smoothies, meal smoothies, detox, and also smoothies to cure hangovers.

The variants come with one base fruit, two or three additional fruits or a mixture of fruits with dry fruits and dairy.

Nut Case, a blend of figs, almonds, cashews and ice cream, is one of the bestsellers.

All the fresh fruit smoothies and shakes are 100 per cent natural, made from local produce and do not contain any artificial flavours, preservatives or even ice, claims Reddy, whose passion for the smoothie business comes from his habit of staying away from caffine since his student days.

Reddy, who holds an engineering degree and an MBA, always wondered when there are hundreds of foods, why is there only coffee, tea, Coke or Pepsi when it comes to beverages and why is there nothing pure and fresh?

While working in Australia and doing his MBA in Scotland, he found many outlets for smoothies and realised what the people of India lacked.

"Fruits have been the first food of human beings.

History shows that eating fruits was the habit of people in all dynasties. However, during last 20 years things have changed. People don't have time to make fruit juice or even consume cut fruits at home. More people are buying canned items which can be stored even for a year," Reddy, who has done a thesis on smoothies, pointed out.

Reddy, who was involved in a variety of business, including steel and 3D animation, feels that smoothies never became popular in India due to challenges like short shelf life of fruits, lesser margins and logistics.

After his return to India in 2008, he did more research.

He wanted to set up smoothie outlets but decided against it. "I didn't want to start one or two outlets and fade away. I wanted to gain more experience."

In 2016, he finally took the first step. In the first year, there were four outlets and today it has grown to 60 in 16 cities. "Our goal is to go to 200 outlets by end of 2019. Eventually, we want to have 10,000 outlets around the world by 2025."

Reddy's ambition is to become the biggest smoothie brand in the world.

Currently Jamba juice of the US has 8,000 outlets.

"Unlike milkshakes, which are nothing but ice cream in liquid form, smoothies have tremendous health benefits and they are delicious too, unlike the general perception that something which is healthy will not be tasty," said Reddy, an outdoor sports junkie.

The Drunken Monkey menu card helps customers choose the right drink and explains which smoothie does what to the human body.

Reddy, however, is careful in his marketing strategy. "We never want to tell people that you will get healthy because we don't want to be boring. We just say have smoothie, you will understand."

Reddy, who expects 30-40 percent growth in sales every year, believes that there is growing awareness among people as they are moving to a fit and healthy lifestyle.

He is confident that people will start preferring smoothies over milkshakes, tea or coffee.

"Our tagline is Naturally High.

A monkey is always happy. We are funnily using word drunken but it's not drunk high," explains Reddy, who also has a corporate cricket team named Drunken Monkey.

(Mohammed Shafeeq visited Drunken Monkey at its invitation.

He can be contacted at m.shafeeq@ians.in)



Source: IANS