BioStoria-Natural food on shelves in Moscow
Anastassia Khozissova visited the BioStoria store on Leninsky Prospekt in Moscow and talked to the co-owner Evgeny Shklarov about the store, customers and organic products in Russia.
How did you start all this?
We started about 5 years ago. That time I used to work as a Deputy Director in a similar store. I was always interested in opening something of my own and exactly that time I met Ilya Kaletkinn – my current partner.
Even before BioStoria opening, Ilya already owned the company Arivera (the biggest distributor of organic products in Russia, which is already more than 10 years on the market) and also few farms, like Biosfera and Bioferma.
After our meeting, we’ve come up with the idea of opening of the store, which now is located in Leningradsky prospect. We have chosen that place because it is very interesting in terms of clients and footfall.
How do you get so much knowledge about foreign products?
The biggest part of it was already displayed in Arivera, and in BioStoria we just made our own product mix.
Superfoods in BioStoria
We are very selective in terms of superfoods and we are always trying to choose products with the sign «BIO» and we do that in favor of those suppliers whose products are certified.
Nowadays, superfood’s popularity reduced in Russia. I think a few years ago it was a trend, but these times have passed; plus because of price growth products became more expensive.
Which product is the most popular in BioStoria?
Around 65% of our selling is chilled products – for example, meat or dairy.
In a grocery, the share of sales has been redistributed towards the same chilled products, because we have a large number of imported products, and our consumer now prefer domestic products, which are cheaper.
Very popular are products for vegetarians and vegans, which are displayed in a big amount – we are always trying to maximally meet the needs of each consumer.
Cuisine and our café are in great demand – you can always eat in a homely atmosphere.
Our idea of expansion – family cafe with pastries. We often come across individual orders, for example, baking for children’s parties. Our honored baker of Russia – Galina Ivanovna Dolgopyatova, comes up with author’s recipes at the request of each client and all customers are satisfied.
We also produce our own ice cream on-farm milk or sorbet from fresh berries.
At the moment we have 2 stores in Moscow, but we wish to grow. We are thinking about 10-12 stores. Along the way, we develop an online store, with delivery within 3 hours after the order.
How do you manage to maintain product quality? After all, a farm can be quite unstable?
Yes, sometimes we have some issues.
For example, our farm’s milk passes the minimum acceptable pasteurization at which, the milk remains more «alive”, so that there is a high probability that it quickly turns sour, especially during the summer. When customers come back to receive a refund, we certainly change this milk.
We say openly about all these problems, so everybody relates to us with an understanding – and our customers as well.
What is the difference between farm products in BioStoria and at the market?
I would say that nowadays markets become more popular, but they are more orientated to trendy, cooked food for the young generation, but the selling of products there are very low.
People who follow a healthy diet prefer to go to the store of our format. The market guarantees the quality from the government point of view, but from the perspective of farmers products, there is no confidence.
We are campaigning farmers to do certificates according to the European standards. It is expensive but gives to the product a distinctive sign of quality. As our products are certified as ORGANIC and our certification is made by Germans, we know how strictly it is tested and gives the impossibility of forgery.
All of your products are organic?
No, about 70%. Talking about organic, I mean those who have a European certificate.
Who are your customers?
People who care about what they eat, they know what is quality and they are willing to pay for it.
We have very personal relationships with our clients, most of them we know by face and they are our regular customers, some of them visit us from the opening, because we are always trying to find an approach to each customer.
How did you personally come to this?
When I read a book of Paul Chappuis Bragg – where he appealed to eat food which is grown without the use of plant protection products such as pesticides and antibiotics, the interest in organic certification came to me.
Later, in the end of 2000th, I used to work in a big agricultural holding, that time I understood that I wished to develop this field.
I was trying to get in a company, which at that time was the only that already had a store that I found interesting in terms of format, they were selling BIO products, but I didn’t get an answer. As time has shown, this shop is closed, and I have my own affiliate project and I wish to develop in Russia and abroad.
What should do a foreign manufacturer who wants to sell its products in your store?
The first option, is to bring the product to Russia by yourself, to obtain a certificate of conformity etc. In this case, we with the big share of probability will take this product unless the price is reasonable and quality is good.
The second option is to offer this product to Arivera. They, in turn, will become a distributor in Russia and will represent this product in all supermarkets. But the company Arivera is very careful in choosing products. Plus, at the moment, the company is planning to start their own production in Russia.
BioStoria website: biostoria.ru