The Hindi word jiva translates into English as life, and was chosen as the name and essence of Burnaby, B.C.-based organic and natural product company Jiva Organics. Started by the Bagga family in 1998, and still operational as a family company, Jiva Organics set out to make natural and organic food products available and affordable for consumers, the principal being that healthy foods should not be unattainable.
Today, under the guidance of CEO Rattan Bagga, nephew and son to the company’s three founding members, Jiva Organics has grown to a $5 million a year company by supporting local and Canadian grown manufacturers, offering a variety of organic, cruelty-free, biodegradable and fair trade products.
“Anyone can have healthy organic products at a lower price point,” says Bagga, from the 36,000 square foot warehouse in Burnaby, upgraded from 11,000 square feet to keep up with demand.
Part of Jiva Organics’ success stems from its diverse product line—the company distributes more than 2,500 products from its own lines manufactured in Canada such as Everland Natural Foods, New World Natural Foods brands, as well as dozens of independent specialized food producers who benefit from Jiva Organics’ bulk manufacturing to supplement smaller volumes. “When designing or selecting new products our criteria is environmental foot print and the benefit to Canadian economy among other attributes such as nutrition, consumer affordability, quality and fair trade practices,” he continues.
“One mandate we have in choosing our products is we like to support local companies and, as much as we can, Canadian companies closer to home,” says Bagga. “All but two of the companies we work with are in North America, mostly Canadian and some are local Burnaby companies.
“Because we are a smaller company we have an eye for detail and a passion for service. We are in the stores every week, whereas in bigger distributorships they don’t pay much attention to detail. That has been to our advantage because we can offer a one-stop-shop for our stores so they can buy their products for almost every department from our distribution.”
Some of the product lines available from Jiva Organics include New World organic cereals such as granola, Bliss Balls the gluten free confections and organic nut butters, but the gamut runs from products such as environmentally friendly paper products, to ecofriendly hand soaps, household cleaners, laundry products, ready-to-eat snacks and teas, milks and jams.
“Our sales force services natural foods retail stores, grocery stores, restaurants, bakeries, delicatessens, institutions and manufacturers in Canada and can assist with product information, promotions, advertisements, demos and point of sale materials,” says Bagga.
Jiva Organics products are found in stores such as Whole Foods, Choices, London Drugs and most independent stores. The company has a lock on the smaller Canadian manufacturing companies, cornering this neglected piece of the market. “Absolutely this has been part of our strategy. Some of the business benefits are that we get consumer acceptance, exclusive lines and not a lot of competition, because the bigger distributors are dealing with big name brands,” says Bagga.
This strategy is working, growing the company five times over the past five years.
With 2012 underfoot, Bagga and his team are working towards expanding the Jiva Organics lines, and are prepared to launch an organic chocolates line, continuing on the road to consumer awareness. “The main vision is to continue getting organic products at an affordable price so it is available to all consumers.”