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I cherish those days of childhood when my aunt from USA would visit every year with a gift pack or two of California almonds. Or when my uncle from Dubai would bring raisins and dates in beautiful cans every time he visited our home.
At home, the indigenous Diwali hampers of dry fruits would mostly comprise cashews and raisins, but rarely almonds. But, I remember, how my mother managed to surprise everyone with her handmade dry fruit boxes. California almonds and Arabian dates were a rare luxury few could avail. However, my mother knew this quaint little shop in the neighbourhood, tucked away in an obscure alley, which had a treasure trove of nuts, seeds and such delicacies from around the world. And of course, the star of the show was the small pocket of choicest Kashmir walnuts.
The supplier at this special shop was VKC Nuts, known by their more popular brand name – Nutraj. Managed by four generations of a family, the brand had been around for over 94 years. Throughout nine glorious decades, they have nourished India in a delightfully ‘nutty’ way.
A Saga of Nine Decades
Founded by a father-son duo in 1926 as the Hansraj-Balwantrai trading company, the Nutraj brand soon gained prominence as a prime supplier of luxury nuts. The core motto of Nutraj has always been – from our family to your family.
The extensive collection of walnuts at Nutraj, most of which was sourced from the orchards of Kashmir, earned them the epithet “The Walnut People”. The label defined them for years and also helped them earn some of the best food and harvest awards from the Government of India.
VKC Nuts has even been awarded ‘outstanding contribution to the walnut sector’ by the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) under the Ministry of Commerce & Industry. CRISIL has also rated them as SE1A – the best rating in the Small Scale Industries (SSI) sector.
Even in the pre-independent days, they managed to procure premium nuts, dry fruits and exotic berries from nooks and corners of the world.
Keeping in line with demands of the present times, Nutraj has launched an e-commerce portal, aside from having a strong retail presence across the country. They have also succeeded in being a top seller at popular e-commerce conglomerates like Amazon and Flipkart.
Their network has gradually expanded to over 35 countries, where they proudly export the ‘Desi’ nuts, fruits and berries. In fact, Nutraj is now considered one of the largest global exporters of dry fruits and nuts from India.
Keeping Up With the Times
There can hardly ever be any doubt about the quality of Nutraj products. When our grandmothers and mothers bought from them, they could trust the retailers with their eyes closed. Now, when millennials like us sit down in front of our laptops browsing through the virtual shelves of Nutraj bestsellers, we also need not think twice about the quality or taste.
The most distinguishing attribute of the brand is perhaps how they have managed to evolve with the demand of the decades. There was a time when nuts and dry fruits featured in the heirloom family recipes, grandfathers’ daily glasses of morning milk or birthday special Payasam and puddings by our mothers. Chocolate encrusted hazelnuts or cranberries were yet to make inroads into our platters. Nutraj catered to the Indian palette then with nuts in their wholesome, unadulterated finery.
And today, with nutritional value taking a backseat before our bouts of binge-eating or stress snacking at work, Nutraj has packed up essential goodness in healthy assortments like the Detox Mix or Superfood Mix.
Heaven in a Nutshell
We ordered the Nutraj Superfood Mix and it soon became a recurring element in our daily diet. Be it with oatmeal porridge and honey in lazy mornings or as a healthy alternative to junk afternoon snacks, we could not do without the flavourful mix of berries and seeds.
Rich in antioxidants, the trail mix comprised a melange of pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, dried American cranberries and blueberries. The seeds are seasoned with a little salt, which perfectly balances the tart sweetness of the berries. It was quite the welcome relief from the usual chips, cookies or overtly sweetened chocolate that we tend to treat ourselves to. The health benefit was definitely evident. And guess what, the superfood mix even pairs magically well with a glass of wine or two.
Aside from trying the innovative Superfood Mix, we decided to order almonds, to see if Nutraj has kept up their traditional goodness. We ordered the Nutraj Signature California Almonds. One of our vegan teammates, who substitutes dairy whitener in her tea or coffee with homemade almond cream, was “in love” with the Nutraj Signature California Almonds. “The almonds I buy from supermarkets are so tiny and shrivelled. This is the first time I tried Nutraj almonds and I am officially in love. Even when eaten raw, without soaking or processing, the almond has a brilliant nuttiness and aroma to it,” she shared with us.
The Superfood Mix came in an airtight zip-lock packet where the product can be stored for long without any risk of exposure. The packet indeed is a welcome relief for bachelors like us, who do not own a lot of tupperware.
The logistics aspect that deserves special mention here is the fast delivery. Our orders were delivered within two days in properly sealed packs.
Catering to the Present Generation
“We are among the few companies in India to have the latest technology in nitrogen flushing and vacuum tray packaging. We roast and flavour our nuts in-house and also have a state-of-the-art R&D lab for product development,” the brand owners reveal about the science and technology incorporated in their products.
Even when aligning themselves with the needs of the modern-day consumer, Nutraj has done a brilliant job. Their product range is no more limited to whole nuts or festive assortments. In their own words, nuts are available “sliced, diced, powdered or chopped for cooking, flavoured, salted or roasted” while dry fruits and berries can be availed in a wide variety of textures, seasonings and mixes. There is a huge market for the brand to explore while keeping in mind the interests of the present generation.
For the ones who feel dry fruit hampers make the best festive gifts, Nutraj even has created an exclusive digital gift shop with attractive combo presents. You can buy a medley of nuts and fruits in fancy containers, together with potted plants, lamps, embellished Potli bags etc.
“No region that is recognised for a nut or dried fruit is off our map,” says the Nutraj team. And true to their word, they continue to fascinate and nourish customers in the country and abroad. The tables have turned now. Indians are now proudly gifting their relatives abroad with a pack or two from Nutraj.