Runners in parks and waterfront, an impressive selection of plant-based milk in coffee shops, the urge to think about what you eat and when - in other words, the fashion for a healthy lifestyle continues to evolve. One of the founders of the sale of healthy food, if not all over Russia, then exactly in Moscow, was Daria Lisichenko, the founder of the health food chain Gorod-Sad. Having opened the first mini-market on Patriarchy four years ago, she provided access to products previously available only on the foreign market. And it also gave an opportunity to develop local producers.
Daria Lisichenko © personal archive
- How has the consumer changed since the opening of the first store?
- It is difficult to compare how the consumer has changed in general. Then, in 2014, when we opened the first "City-Garden", on Patriarch's, there was the quintessence of our target audience. These were people who had been waiting for such a store for a long time. We gave them food, which they brought from America and England in suitcases. But then, opening stores in other areas, I noticed that more and more people whom I would not have considered our audience earlier due to their age (very young or, conversely, older), are interested in proper nutrition, trying to study this issue in depth. For example, at the end of winter, my daughter and I went to the skating rink, and at some point I went to buy her tea. While I was standing in line, a young man with a girl, 35–37 years old, came up, it would seem, an ordinary Moscow couple, who could not even be suspected of being addicted to healthy lifestyle. And they comment on the menu: “And this drink with sugar, and this,and the one with honey? Is everything here with sugar? Horrible". Today, awareness of the topic of proper nutrition and a healthy lifestyle has grown significantly, and more people began to consciously make choices in this direction.
- And what about the attitude to Russian farm products?
- Этой категории стали больше доверять. Спасибо «ЛавкеЛавке» и другим прекрасным проектам, которые в свое время взялись за активное продвижение производства местных фермеров. Доверять стали и не крупным стартапам - производителям напитков, джемов, батончиков, шоколада и даже попкорна… На сегодняшний день на нашем рынке есть все, что раньше мы возили или хотели привезти из-за границы, практически все делают местные производители. Один из последних примеров - российская торговая марка Bites сейчас выпустила миндальное молоко. Поначалу, конечно, было не так много качественно исполненных продуктов - в достойной упаковке, хорошего вкуса. Сейчас это сильно изменилось, и я горжусь, что «Город-Сад» во многом выступил некой платформой для подобных проектов. Мы их поддерживаем, объясняем новичкам, как надо работать, что важно покупателю, на что следует обратить внимание.
- Do you personally meet new brands?
- I do it with great pleasure, moreover, I am always in an active search for some new products. I test what they send, or, if I like someone, I give the task to find a manufacturer.
- What do you buy most from the offered assortment? Is there a trend?
- Today, the trend is the rejection of animal products. Perhaps the most growing category is dairy substitution, all vegan: milk, cheese, yogurt. Many are looking for an alternative to traditional harmful sweets. And this is a huge range of products, for example from BioAroma, which contain natural oil instead of sugar and give the full feeling that you are eating something sweet. Stevia products are also in demand. We have our own culinary that keeps up with the trends. I think that in the segment of ready-made inexpensive healthy lifestyle food we have made the best and purest offer on the market according to the recipe. There is a lot of interest in functional drinks and fermented foods: all kinds of kombucha, Biotonic Life.
- Today, it seems, every second is a farmer. How do you choose who to work with?
- We try to work with those who have managed to establish themselves in the market, because we already have a fairly decent volume of purchases. We don't travel around Russia, we don't look for grandmothers in the villages. Already with the first store on Patriarch'shikh we realized that it was better to work with larger farmers who have a fine-tuned question of quality and packaging. Moreover, now we already have a large production of our own, not just one cook, but a kitchen factory. We are in the process of moving to a new, large facility.
- Are you already working according to your standards?
- Naturally, there are standards that come from the recipe. For example, raw-food desserts require a separate workshop, which has its own process for preparing products. Plus there are standards for the selection of raw materials. Vegetables are selected strictly, because our culinary menu contains a large number of vegetable dishes. In our recipes there is no mayonnaise, sauces, dishes are not stewed, not overcooked, so the quality of the products immediately catches the eye. As we move to a new building, we will receive HACCP certification regarding new production standards.
- And what are you guided by when choosing a new place for the "City-Garden" space?
- We are looking for the right location, where, ideally, both housing and offices would be concentrated. So far, we mainly operate in the center, which is natural for a certain first round of the company's existence.
The approach to the selection of premises is not as standardized as it may be in other networks. Each store has its own individual design and approach. This complicates the process, but I am more pleased with this concept than something very, very standard.
The plans are to further develop in different districts of Moscow. We also consider quality shopping centers. Recently we opened “City-Garden” in the shopping center “Afimall City”. Here, due to the large number of office workers, the focus is more on cooking. We are also considering residential complexes. Now we will open at Michurinskoye.
Today, our market has everything that we used to transport or wanted to bring from abroad.
- It would be ideal to open such a place in the departure area at the airport.
- That would be great. In airports, as a rule, food offers - fast food, some kind of fast food. Moreover, I believe that our local producers would be in great demand at the airport, because this is a kind of souvenir story: you’re not lucky enough to have a matryoshka, after all. And we have a lot of beautiful, almost souvenir, products characteristic of our strip: chocolate, and something from cedar, and butter.
- Eating right today seems quite expensive.
- Depends on what we are comparing with. For example, a health conscious person is more likely to buy avocado oil than a bottle of expensive alcohol, and benefit from it. A healthy lifestyle involves pretty serious control over what you generally buy. Ultimately, the automatic rejection of unnecessary products for which a person spent a lot of money occurs. But, all other things being equal, if we compare with some chains or hypermarkets, of course, it comes out more expensive. For example, in our cooking the average check is 450 rubles, and this is not a lot. It is quite comparable with other non-healthy lifestyle projects. You have to understand that we are not a restaurant and we control prices. In most cases, I consider it a myth that healthy eating remains expensive.
- "Garden City" often conducts free lectures on healthy eating. So are you trying to educate your consumer?
- We open access to information, because we have a wide selection of products and we are not limited to only Gluten free, or Vegan, or certified organic. I think it is important to enable the buyer to make an informed choice. And for this you need to provide as much information as possible. Today, every second TV show, one way or another, is about health, the media promote a healthy lifestyle, there are a lot of different diets, nutrition systems, training. A person needs guidelines - to understand what works for him. Therefore, we decided to organize a lecture hall.
- Is the trend of healthy lifestyle food limited to the Moscow Ring Road?
- I wouldn't say. We receive a huge number of applications for franchises: from Siberia, Krasnodar Territory - everywhere there are people who want to be healthy.>