On the lookout for a healthy oil for everyday Indian cooking, a long distance runner invests in research to launch his own avocado oil
Rushabh Parikh and wife Miral. Pic/Atul Kamble
When Rushabh Parikh and wife Miral were expecting their first born, like most couples, they discussed wholesome nutrition for the baby's benefit. They were looking for an unrefined oil that was high on taste. Most brands, they realised, claimed to be heart-healthy and cholesterol-free, but none spoke of the severity of the process behind their making and the nutrition lost therein. "We have always been concerned about nutrition," says Parikh, a weight lifter and long distance runner. "We were disheartened by the nutrition profile of Indian oils."
In 2016, the couple was on a trip to Dubai when they met an old friend from Africa during a run around the Dubai Marina. Over breakfast the next day, they spoke of avocado oil used in Africa. Parikh says oil from the African Hass avocado carries a crisp taste with light texture, unlike say, the Mexican avocado. A trip to Kenya and Tanzania led to the idea behind Black & Green, the oil that the Parikhs have recently launched. Avocado is the fruit of a plant native to south central Mexico and has been a popular superfood for its healthy monounsaturated fats. It is believed to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Miral was team leader at an asset reconstruction company and Rushabh handled the family's real estate business. But their passion for health meant they would make time for this project.
Research threw up interesting facts, including why avocado is better than olive. "You cannot cook in extra virgin olive oil without the food losing nutrition since the oil has a low burning point. Extra Virgin Avocado Oil (EVAO) has a smoke point of nearly 300 degree Celsius, which means it can be used for everyday low, medium and high heat cooking, including frying," Parikh says. It took the team a year for product development and getting the factory up and running. But the biggest hurdle was to penetrate a market dominated by refined oils. That the product is expensive (R949 for 250 ml) is another hitch. The couple is using a variety of online and offline channels to connect with health inclined users. The Parikhs have been regulars at farmers' markets around India, checking out what's currently available and spreading the word on avocado oil. "To create a completely new territory of product is a huge challenge, and customer education is paramount. We are getting there," Parikh says.
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