Artinci: make sugar-free and low-carb desserts

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Amidst multiple trends and narratives going all around us, we often think about our own role in them. Whether actively or passively, does not matter. What matters is the awareness and the desire to do something. There are many problems in our world today and surely, we all are passionate about solving some of them. We just need to decide which problem we want to solve.

It could be about healthcare (so many diseases still to be cured or managed well), the food supply chain (threats to quality of ingredients, wastage issues, distribution inefficiencies etc.), alternative materials (moving beyond plastic, creating biodegradable materials etc.) and so on. As history can attest, entrepreneurs, regulators and individuals who like to solve problems economically set the trends and narratives for the rest of humanity.

Food represents the quintessential impact driven business. Nutrition is important for healthcare, while different foods delight us from time to time, and are an important part of culture and community. Creating well tasting recipes is an art, and it comes with hours, weeks and months of practice. Our taste buds represent who we are, and we all have our own favourite list of starters, main courses, desserts and beverages. Each of them is a big market in its own right. Desserts specifically represent how alike we all are. We all want it.

Today, at Bangalore Insider we spoke to Aarti Laxman Rastogi, the founder of Artinci, one of Bangalore’s most loved dessert brands. She talked to us and explained the effort that goes behind perfecting desserts for a covid-influenced population, looking to take a break with her beautiful desserts. Below are the excerpts from our interaction.      

Where do source your raw ingredients from? Do you’ve international or domestic suppliers or both? This question is just to understand the basic supply chain structure for the venture. Do you look for something specific with regards to choosing your suppliers?

At Artinci, we are very committed to using local ingredients as much as possible. We have been vocal for local, even before it became a catch-phrase. As food producers, we are on the path to building a sustainable organisation and we have always believed in keeping our food miles as low as we can. For instance, while the trend in desserts is to boast of a Belgian Chocolate or a Madagascar or a Columbian Coffee, we use chocolate, vanilla and Coffee, that are grown right here in India – in fact pretty close by from where we produce in Bangalore – they grow in Kerala, Andhra Pradesh or Karnataka. 50% of our best-selling desserts have chocolate as the base, which says a lot for the superior and international flavour profile of the bean-to-bar chocolate we use.

Even the stevia we use in all our sugar-free desserts, is grown by Indian small-holding farmers and processed in a clean-label way. We choose to work with suppliers, who in turn work with Farmers directly. This way, the traceability of our ingredients is high. Of course, we also look for scientific validation of the quality of the ingredients – so we insist on lab test reports of the ingredients that we choose to work with.

Also, we do a lot of R&D and Trials with our ingredients – to ensure that the ingredients we use are absolutely safe to use – especially important for those with dietary restrictions like diabetes. So there is a lot of scientific paper reading that happens when we choose to incorporate a new ingredient in our products.

In a nutshell, our supply chain is local, high-quality and safe – because great desserts are only made with great ingredients!

How complicated are the actual recipes? Please give us a high level overview of what it takes to make the perfect dessert? For instance, say the preparation process for one of your best-selling desserts, taking into account the taste and the USP being health conscious desserts

When we launched our sugar-free range in January 2020, we conducted about 8 months of R&D and Product trials, to get the taste and texture just right. We use stevia to sweeten our sugar-free desserts, and while stevia is a completely natural, great sweetener to use, it has a bitter after-taste that makes it challenging to work with. All that R&D and trials went into developing the right taste profile so that we get stevia to behave very well in our desserts – sweetening, with NO Added sugar and without the after-taste.

The perfect dessert is one that starts with stellar, fresh ingredients. Another way to ensure a unique and flavourful dessert is to create flavouring ingredients in-house. For instance, one of our best-sellers, the Roasted Almond Sugar-free Ice cream, is flavoured with roasted almond butter that we make in-house, by starting with whole almonds that we roast and make fresh almond butter with – which then goes into the ice cream base. For our ever-growing popular Sugar Free Cheesecake, we make all the layers of the dessert jar in-house. Starting with the mascarpone cheese, which we make in-house, a gluten-free low-carb almond cookie base and the sugar-free Berry compote that we top it up with. We take the long road to the preparation of each of our desserts, to ensure integrity of each of our ingredients.

How do you see the market for desserts evolving in Bangalore especially post the pandemic? While fair to say, people became more health conscious, surely indulgence is bound to drive dessert sales like old times

Post pandemic, especially with the bright spotlight that has been shone on diabetes and the risks involved while being Covid-positive and diabetic, people have indeed become more conscious of what they eat. I see a trend of indulging for sure, but more mindfully. Even desserts are about making better choices and choosing the better alternative. Our consumers ask thoughtful questions around ingredients, they ask us for nutrition values of their dessert and order only once they are entirely convinced that the dessert they are about to enjoy, is also good for them. “Indulging Mindfully” is the trend going forward.

How happy are you with your food delivery partners? How important are they with respect to our business model?

Food delivery aggregators help with brand discovery and access to new customers, as well as convenience for both the brand and the consumer, with predictable delivery times. They help a digital-first brand such as ours, with the visibility that we need. Another valuable input is when we launch in new markets – the data insights that we get from them help us select our new store locations. We also get data insights from the platforms on how our repeat customer rate looks, that gives us an overview of how well our products work for our end consumer.

What does your most ideal day look like to you? From the time you woke up, to the time you settle in for the night.  

My ideal day begins with walking our dog, who we adopted last year, he is an indie rescue. This is followed by a workout at my gym – I try and mix it up with running, weight training and cycling. I work out about 5-6 days a week, to stay one step ahead of my diabetic gene. After that, it is a full day of work, connecting with the team, Artinci’s customers and vendors. The best days are when a consumer comes back to say that Artinci’s desserts has helped them live a normal life, while living with diabetes or while they follow a keto diet. Yes, there are a bunch of those! Evening is family time and catching up with my daughter on how her day went. Some reading, of whatever book I am reading, wraps up the day.

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