TWO years ago, Pratima Prashnajeet was preparing cups of smoothies for her friends, one of whom suggested she should sell the beverage on the street side. Then an idea hit her, one that only needed time to materialize.
Today, her neatly packaged ‘Zappa’ smoothie is a hit, and, in a few months’ time, she plans to add more products to the brand.
Pratima’s products were introduced to the local market several months ago but the concept and research took months before her product hit the shelves of several top supermarkets here, including Survival, Bounty Supermarkets and Massey Stores. At the moment, the smoothie retails between G$795 to G$1200 at the popular supermarkets
She said that she comes from a family of farmers, noting that the name ‘Zappa’ is the nickname of her father who has a farm in the Region Three area. While referring to herself as a third-generation farmer, Pratima noted that she decided to venture into the business after realizing that the family owned something which needed marketing, that is, the farm.
She said that she made contact with a company in Connecticut in the U.S regarding packaging of her product. She noted, too, that she made that move after exhausting the options available locally. She said the creation of her logo was also done overseas and that too, she cautioned, was done after exhausting options available in Guyana.
Preparation and health benefits
The former marketing executive and TV show host said that she was passionate about the venture.
She said she had received proposals for exporting but she cautioned that, although such was on the cards, she would like to build on the products locally, before venturing overseas.
Currently, Pratima is offering the superfood smoothie which includes a blend of apple, banana, pineapple, spinach, cucumber and ginger, cherry and orange, which are all locally sourced, some from the family’s farms at Parika and Hogg Island. Added to the blend are almond and flaxseed. ”They detox, cleanse and brighten your system,” she said.
To prepare, the packaged ingredients are added to water or milk or a liquid of choice of the consumer and blended. The consumer can refrigerate or use immediately.
Pratima noted that the health benefits of the product are valuable to one’s system. She said one is able to detox from the ginger superfood as she noted that an age-old health system, Ayurveda, was intricately immersed into the products compilation.
Support local farmers
The packaging of the product has caught the attention of many local consumers.
“Support local farmers and locally made products. Buy foods that are grown and not made,” Zappa Farm says on its Facebook package and Pratima said that she is passionate about farmers’ involvement in the agro-processing drive. She detailed that one of the challenges she faced was the availability of the products for her business. She noted that it was a business opportunity for farmers and potential growers. Pratima is a daughter of Parika, and, as such, much of the produce for her product has been sourced from the area. She said she was also undertaking arrangements with a farmer in Region One for ‘acai berry’. She was also trying to source ‘dragon fruit’ to add some variety to her product.
Feedback and packaging
The young entrepreneur noted that the response to her smoothie has been positive. “As entrepreneurs in the food business, we are very mindful of what we put into our product, where the food comes from and where it is going”, she said.
In that regard, she said that the labelling of the ingredients has been enlarged at the front of the package, with the names being bold for the consumer to see. ”People like that, they want to know what benefits they are getting from all of this food,” she said.
The young, upbeat entrepreneur said government has been working tremendously to push agro-processing. She said she has been impressed by all the locally made products on the market and the list includes cashew-butter and cassava flour. She said a lot of funding, through the Small Business Bureau (SBB), is made available to help agro-processors.
A perfectionist for labelling, Pratima noted that labels and marketing are key factors local agro-processors should pay keen attention to.
She advised persons, who might have an idea, to capitalise on such idea, especially if one had collateral at hand, such as a family farm. She explained that, in her case, she knew the value of the education her parents ensured she received but she noted that it was up to her to translate that into a marketable venture.
Pratima said that, in 2020, more flavors will be added to the smoothie line. In addition, she wants to expand more into frozen foods while adding more products to the ‘Zappa’ brand. ”People don’t have much time, everyone is busy so you want fresh foods which are easy to prepare,” she said.
Energy bars and soups are also among Pratima’s future plans as she conceptualises more products for her ‘Zappa’ brand.