Avi Gill laughs when he thinks about the fact that the Farming Karma Fruit Co. was partly inspired by his orchardist parents’ talk of retirement. After all, his father Karma and mother Kuku have been growing apples for over thirty years. Certain habits die hard.
But when the Gill family decided to branch out into their own agri-business, working on the farm was no longer habitual for Avi, his wife Binny, and his brother Sumeet. They had gone away to school and started non-agricultural careers. Then the retirement talk sparked an idea and they found themselves drawn back to the family farm.
“We wanted to create an agri-business named after Dad that would produce a healthy product using our fruit, attract tourists, and inspire the next generation of agriculturalists,” says Avi.
The product that the Gill family created is a unique one: a fruit soda made without sugar or fruit concentrates. A Farming Karma beverage is a blend of real fruit juice that’s then carbonated. As such, it fills the gap between sugary sodas and less flavourful carbonated drinks.
“What we do is replicate a serving of fruit in each can,” explains Avi. “If you’re drinking a cherry soda, you get the same nutrients from eating a handful of cherries.”
The idea was great, but what would it take to build an agri-business like the one the Gills envisioned?
“We thought, ‘Oh, how hard will it be to basically make juice and have a stand?’” Avi laughs. “Turns out it’s really hard.”
All hands were on deck to make the dream a reality. Avi, a pharmacist with a Bachelor of Science from the University of British Columbia, found his chemistry skills came in handy with formulating the soda.
Before he knew it, the Farming Karma Fruit Co. was the venture that demanded all of his attention. And the outcome was a thriving manufacturing company complete with an agri-tourism element. Visitors to the Gill farm can stay in an RV park, enjoy a dog park, and learn about how the soda is made.
Setting up the company was demanding, but Avi says that “learning everything has always been fun. We have to start a business from the ground up. We learned about manufacturing, utilities, equipment, packaging, retail distributors, marketing, so many things. We’re all still learning!”
As a packaging partner, Great Little Box Company/Ideon Packaging (GLBC) quickly became “a huge part of Farming Karma’s success,” according to Avi. “Branding needs to be really strong in this industry, and GLBC’s quality work helped us stand out. Plus, they are really, really easy to deal with.”
The latest GLBC-Farming Karma marketing piece, a digitally printed point of purchase display, reflects the partnership well. Farming Karma has a unique product to share—one that benefits from a certain amount of customer education. And it’s GLBC’s job to communicate that information efficiently and with eye-catching results. Hence, the display shares information—like, for example, “one apple + water + carbonation”—while “creating a really small footprint that gets us into retail settings,” says Avi.
In the future, the Gill family is looking forward to sharing a whole new product line. They’ve been approved for building and running a distillery, which means that every beverage the company makes will soon be available as a vodka soda.
“This is one of those instances where we’re taking customer advice! We’ve always had a lot of feedback from people saying, like, ‘Wow, this soda tastes awesome with a shot of gin.’”
With a strong, creative, and committed family behind the wheel, we know Farming Karma can pull off just about anything. We’re excited for every venture we get to support.