Monday, August 25, 2014

Carrots, The Healthy Kitchen

Today's post brings another opportunity to align our pocketbooks with our values. I was fortunate to speak with Krishna Shastry, the founder of Bangalore's first vegan health-food restaurant, about his business, veganism in India, and ethical investing.

First, an overview of Carrots, largely in Krishna's own words:

Carrots, The Healthy Kitchen is Bangalore's first vegan health-food restaurant.

Contrary to conventional wisdom regarding eating out, Carrots has been consistently serving “Health & Taste on the same plate” since it opened its doors in early 2013.

Carrots is much beyond just an eating place - here people get good food for stomach, and intriguing food for thought as well. Creating and spreading awareness in the areas of health, environment friendly lifestyle & animal rights/welfare is naturally integrated in our working style.

In a short period of time Carrots has successfully grown in a crowded restaurant space with a diverse menu, and our biggest proof is feedback from our patrons as seen in Zomato and Trip Advisor.
Also adding to our credibility are media reviews who have described us as “Precious 24-carrot food” (Bangalore Mirror), “What a Tasty Twist” (Prevention, India’s No. 1 Health Magazine) and “Incredible International Bakery” (One Green Planet). We have also received positive reviews from likes of Times of India, Financial Times, DNA, Business Standard, The Hindu and Housecalls.
There are multiple growth opportunities that can be pursued to serve this uncontested segment with a potential to expand this concept to a retail chain across India. Hence, we believe this is an excellent opportunity that would be of interest to you.

In talking with Krishna, an ethical vegan, I was intrigued to learn that while India has a strong vegetarian culture, it has few vegans. Most people are vegetarian "by default"---due to tradition---without having considered the ethical, environmental, and nutritional reasons for adopting a vegan lifestyle. "In the US, and in London, people are much more aware [of vegan issues] than they are in India."

This is why Carrots' role as educator is also so compelling. People come to the restaurant curious, and find educational materials at their table, outlining some of the nutritional and environmental advantages to veganism.

As we discussed the opportunity, I couldn't help but think about how fitting this was for vegan investors. Since the goal is financial self-sufficiency, an investment in the restaurant could result in many years of education and providing vegan meals, and you might earn a financial return to boot.

As always with investing, you should do your homework, understand the risks, and exercise caution. Foreign investors can invest without a physical presence. For more information, contact and I'll put you in touch with Krishna.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Wall Street Journal: vegan milks gaining market share

Last month, the Wall Street Journal reports that Whitewave, once a spin-off of dairy company Dean Foods, is now outperforming it's parent by leaps and bounds. The reason?

WhiteWave's profit and sales are climbing as U.S. consumers embrace plant-based milks. Dean has churned out losses on falling domestic demand and higher costs for raw milk. Today, WhiteWave's revenues are just a third of Dean's, but its market value is more than three times its former parent.
 "It is going to be tough to buck the trend of declining consumption of [cow] milk in the U.S.," says Ryan Oksenhendler, an analyst with Arlon Group LLC, a New York-based fund manager that owns WhiteWave shares. He says shoppers quitting cow milk and embracing soy, almond and coconut milks are feeding WhiteWave's gains.

In other words, folks are catching on. According to a recent USDA report, milk consumption is down in all age groups, to the tune of 40% less than 1970 consumption levels.

Dean has closed 10% of it's plants last year and is closing another nearly 4% this year.