“We take pride in being an innovative food company that provides consumers with new options for healthier eating. The plant is the new Protein,” said Somesh Behera, founder of Just Dig In!.
The founding team at Just Dig In! has a collective experience of more than 40 yrs in varied aspects of the food processing business. “We have come together to put in all our efforts to build a brand for consumers which is nothing but pure, clean & sustainable on which they can rely,” he adds.
Industry professionals started the brand and turned into serial entrepreneurs. They have a deep passion for making high-quality products that are innovative, clean, convenient & sustainable without compromising on their functionality.
Somesh Ranjan Behera, Founder, and CEO of Just Dig in! comes from a background where he got the opportunity to work with consumer brands.
He started his career working for a home-grown Dairy Brand Milk Mantra Dairy from scratch, which exposed him to working in challenging conditions, as dairy is temperature-sensitive. He said – “you have to be on your toes to be on top of your performance & small errors can cause massive damage.”
He then worked for a meat processing company taking care of sales across channels & got an opportunity to work for HUL & OYO before starting his own”.
Akashmika Nayak – Co-Founder – Head Brand & Communication– She was also part of the dairy brand early on, where she was taking care of brand & communications, working closely with the company’s co-founder.
She was instrumental in rolling out strategic campaigns & products in evolved markets where the company had first launched one of the revolutionary products categories. She was also responsible for relaunching & building the D2C vertical from scratch.
After having worked for more than nine years with the home-grown dairy brand, she joined Somesh in the journey of building Just Dig In.
Chirajit Pakrasi, Co-Founder – COO, has an illustrious career of more than 20 + years in food brands. From frozen, staple, meat processing, brined condiments & English pickles, and frozen desserts. His best years were with McCain when the Canadian giant launched in India.
He was fortunate to join them and built the business of selling French fries to Food Services clients at strategic positions across geographies. Later, joined Fresco Pollo (meat processing brand) as business head, taking care of sales, marketing, and NPD & was responsible for taking the brand beyond the East.
Chirajit, later joined Hugo Reitzel, a Swiss brand selling brined condiments & English pickles. He was mandated to set up business in India & APAC across channels.
In this role, he had greater exposure to export markets and worked hand in hand with top QSR giants beyond India. Before joining Somesh, his ex-colleague in building Just Dig In!
Just Dig in! The world of tasty and healthy meat
After spending a reasonable amount of time working in the food industry, from Startups to MNCs, they spotted some gaps & thought of bridging them with their rich experiences & expertise. Working in the past in the dairy & meat industry allowed them to start something parallel to it but is much more sustainable than the latter.
Somesh says,” we are also non-vegetarians, mainly the core team & coming from the East, we have been meat-eaters; that puts us in the consumer’s shoes to evaluate the products first hand.
How can consumers do it if we don’t like what we make? This was the tipping point for starting in the alternative protein space”, said Somesh.
As a conscious brand that helps people transition from one extreme to another regarding their food choices. Just Dig In! products are a great alternative in taste, texture, sensory & functionality.
Leaving footprints in the Plant-Based sector
In Western countries, this category took 12 years to flourish. But in India, the idea of plant protein consumption is expected to be established reasonably well within the next five years as per data & research.
The current stage of plant-based products in India is up-and-coming, where consumers are more conscious of what they put on the plate and its source, which was not the case 5 years back.
With more informed consumers, it makes India a great market not just for consumption but also in terms of provider to the rest of the world. Price plays a crucial role in mainstreaming this category, and we are all focused on getting it right.
Chirajit candidly shares his experience – When I was part of the McCain sale & distribution team in India, the price of potatoes used to be Rs5/kg compared to Rs90/kg for French fries.
To this date when it’s mainstream & has become a commodity that once was a niche. It’s synonymous with the plant-based meat market currently.
Research says that 72- 73% of the population is flexitarian and are willing to try this if we strike the chord in terms of taste and texture and give consumers the correct functionality at value for money. That is precisely the part we specialize in, and we are proud to follow this along.
“Our knowledge and experience in the Frozen food industry come immensely handy while dealing with the processing, packaging, supply chain, and other key verticals. If we go about the process carefully, people are to opt for this instead of traditional animal-based products,” Says Chirajit.
Setting the Bar High, yum meat doesn’t have to cost a heartbeat.
The founders at Just Dig In! promised to make high-standard products and not cut corners with the ingredients sourced or used when they started up. “Our products are made from the highest quality TVP (textured Vegetable Protein). We were clear that we didn’t want to be another mee too brand of offering. Hence all our industry experience was to be put together to create products that stand out from the crowd “says Somesh. The brand launched four variants in the first rollout, and all the products stand out having distinctive approaches.
They wanted to offer consumers diverse food choices, not just finger foods. Hence the most accepted and consumed cuisine type, Chinese, was an obvious choice to tinker on.
“Indians love it from length to breadth, Just Dig In! as a brand wanted to give consumers an alternate option in plant-based meat by offering Oriental Style Meatballs, which are super easy to make.”
All you need is to fry or toss them on a pan as mentioned in the cooking instructions and put them in the choice of gravy. You would love how it forms into a great-tasting meal in various ways.
The same is with Nuggets, as this would be a generic product across brands.
Just Dig In! added a twist to it and made Chili cheese nuggets (currently processed cheese is used) instead of just classic nuggets. We are making it a novelty product, keeping a very aggressive pricing strategy. However, the team is working on a Plant-based cheese variant, which will be available soon.
Another breaded product in the line-up is a Spicy Finger—a product with a spicy twist which makes it an exciting offering.
Last but not least is Seekh kebab, a generic product in its category. Still, the brand went ahead by using fresh ingredients as condiments to give it a more natural approach instead of using flavors & dry ingredients.
Deep Dive in Delhi/NCR
Delhi seems to be a good market to start with, as consumers are ready to try new categories & offerings. Just Dig In! took the approach of being an Omni channel brand. Although the focus would be on Foodservice or HORECA as referred to in INDIA.
“We are looking at expanding our product range over the next three years with more innovative offerings in snacks & beverages,” says Akashmika.
As an omnichannel-focused brand, The products are available not just on their D2C website but also across Modern Retail store formats.
Partnering with a leading modern trade retail chain like Modern Bazaar, offline & online, and has a presence in all the right catchment sections that Just Dig In! aims to target.
The partnership offers the brand access to plant-based meat’s ‘early adopters.’
These customers, eager to try and experiment with plant-based products, are quickly becoming aware of industrial animal agriculture’s implications on personal and planetary health.
Ring the Bell the same day.
Finding an exciting channel & has many potentials to have a customized approach to our Target groups or consumers. It will help us understand their needs and act on them to deliver.
They are currently reaching the right audience by Covering around 46 pin codes to start with across Delhi NCR & adding more. The focus is on providing the orders received the same day to compete in our fulfillment plan. We have a dedicated workforce to take care of the same.
The brand is working closely with the Food Service category as well. As we are from the industry, we understand the pulse of this category. We have created solutions that would fit in best. We are a customized solution provider rather than just dumping products which are regular in our product basket, said – Chirajit
The company aspire to be available in other metros once we get our foothold in Delhi NCR. Bangalore & Mumbai seems to be the next destination.
Meat Lovers can finally Rejoice!
The brand’s uniqueness lies in the approach to making products and marketing them. The way they look into the products minutely when starting with the product brief. “We have emphasized using preservative-free breadcrumbs, which is not a regular practice. 75% of our products are Palm oil-free, and the rest, when we scale up, will be palm oil-free brands.”
“Regarding product feedback, we have got encouraging feedback from customers and Foodservice. They had not tried anything close to what we have in terms of taste & texture.” says Akashmika.