There’s opportunity in the dried staples category, says Dunya Harvest founder

By Adi Menayang

- Last updated on GMT

Dunya Harvest targets wider audience with dried pantry staples

Related tags North america Brand management Brand

Ontario-based Shah Trading Company has served the South Asian diaspora community in North America for 40 plus years. With its new sub-brand, it hopes to serve a wider audience with packaged organic grains and pulses. 

Products of the two-year-old brand Dunya Harvest​ are now distributed in select natural and specialty stores in the Chicago area, New York City, and Maryland, said VP of business development and co-founder Sanjeev Shah.

Working with dried pulses and grains isn’t completely new for Shah, as Dunya Harvest’s family-run parent company​ has been operating a wholesale and import business out of Montreal and Toronto since 1974. Neither is operating a consumer-facing brand—the trading company bought Caribbean packaged food brand Nupak back in the 80s, which continues to serve shoppers at regional specialty stores throughout North America.

But with Dunya Harvest’s organic white quinoa, brown basmati and quinoa blend, and canned organic chickpeas, they were trying to tackle demographics they’ve never focused on before as a way to widen their audience and increase revenue. “This area, it’s still somewhat new, and there’s not much competition,” ​Shah said. “So we’re hoping to get our foot in the door.”

The “healthy realists”

“We call them ‘healthy realists,’”​ Shah said about Dunya Harvest’s target audience, “and health conscious women and shoppers between 18 and 40.” ​He also said that the brand will serve budget-conscious shoppers. A 22oz bag of white quinoa, for example, sells for around $5.99, which Shah said is cheaper than the $7.99 brands out there.

There are three main product lines Dunya Harvest offers:  originals, organics, and canned organics. Unlike Shah Trading Company’s other brands, Dunya Harvest products won’t go on the shelves of South Asian or other regional grocery stores in North America.

Instead, Shah said the company is looking to sell the products in more mainstream channels. Now the products can be found in smaller grocery chains and boutique specialty grocery stores. In the Chicago area, for example, Dunya Harvest can be found in local suburban chain Caputo’s, Shop & Save, and at small delis like Gene’s Sausage in the city’s north side cobblestoned neighborhood of Lincoln Square.

Package matters

According to Shah, package design played an integral role in positioning Dunya Harvest to attract the demographic they wanted.

“[With] the packaging—we put more information on the product,” ​he said, comparing it to the package design of other brands within the company. For example, the main pieces of nutritional information people will be looking for, such as sodium, calories, and protein content, was put at the front of the package. Additionally, the company invested more in romance text, fun facts, and recipes on the package.

The brand name’s Dunya means “world” in various languages, from Arabic to Hindi to Malay to Swahili. Shah Trading Company has another brand of spices and sauces simply called Dunya, which is marketed to the South Asian diaspora in North America.

But Shah added the word “Harvest” to this new brand as a way to grab the attention of a wider audience, which Shah junior sees as the peers he understands more. “I think it’s a generational thing,” ​Shah said.

“My dad’s generation, the first generation of the business, they’re immigrants from [Kenya] so they were doing what's more comfortable to them and their market and what they respond well with,” ​he added. “We see a good opportunity for the [health-conscious] market, so I think we can be competitive, from Toronto all the way down to Florida and LA.”

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