Now, Ramdev wants to turn business guru

Now, Ramdev wants to turn business guru

New Delhi: Yoga guru Baba Ramdev wants to become a business guru as well.

He has lined up a series of ventures ranging from a mega food park to the world’s largest juice factory.

Ramdev’s Divya Yog Mandir Trust has, through Patanjali Food Park Ltd—a special purpose vehicle in which the trust holds the largest chunk of 25% —acquired about 100 acres of land in Haridwar and plans to invest up to Rs500 crore by 2010 in the park, including a plant to make 200 tonnes of juice daily. Once complete, the juice plant would dwarf the current world’s largest producer of juice in the US with 160 tonnes per day.

Divya Yog Mandir has hired Gurgaon-based Technopak Advisors Pvt. Ltd to advise on the food park that would also engage in contract farming with villagers to produce packaged food products. The group is in talks with Punjab National Bank to finance the project.

“There is such a huge demand for our products and we haven’t been able to meet those demands," says Rajeev Bansal, chief general manager of Divya Pharmacy that currently manufactures Ayurvedic medicines to herbal consumers. He says the group has realized there is potential beyond the current portfolio of Ayurvedic medicines and some herbal products.

Bansal will spearhead the group’s expansion into consumer products. He says the group plans to become a full-fledged consumer products company with herbal soaps, shampoos, candies and other products. The juices and consumer products will be marketed under the “Patanjali" brand name. He added that the group plans to import the plant from Sweden and the latest food packaging material from Spain.

The Haridwar plant will produce apart from fruit juices, juice of tomato, aloe vera, bottle gourd and bitter gourd, among others.

The group sells medicines, yoga DVDs and books through a network of 700 group-owned stores and franchisees outlets operated by “volunteers."

Banking on Ramdev’s popularity, it now plans to reach out to other retailers with a host of upcoming products and plans advertising and marketing initiatives even as it says he will be the biggest draw.

“Swamiji is among the top well-known figures in the country," says Bansal. “He is liked from a rickshaw-puller to (steel tycoon) Lakshmi Mittal."

Despite the mega plans, “Baba (Ramdev) cannot be a big player like a Dabur...but in a small specialized player there is scope," Pinakiranjan Mishra of consultancy Ernst and Young says. “...They have a lot of followers in having health products. When I say health products, there are two aspects. One is pure health and other is pure belief: You trust someone and hence believe the product is good."