Autumn Special 2014

MAPE: Ayurveda for the specialist trade

Author: Karin Heinze

Many people have got completely the wrong idea about Ayurveda. Central Europeans often take just one aspect of this ancient Indian tradition, that in India itself is an official part of the health system. The firm Maharishi Ayurveda Products Europe, that is located in the Netherlands, has tasked itself with providing information about all facets of this holistic health philosophy. Its high-value products are marketed to European customers via the specialist trade in the various countries. (Picture: Gudrun Buchzik and Shantanu Banerji are in charge of Maharishi Ayurveda Products Europe B.V. in Herkenbosch/Netherlands)

 

Together with leading Ayurvedic experts, the Vedic scholar Maharishi Mahesh Yogi has consolidated Ayurveda, the doctrine of long life. For a long time, Ayurvedic literature was fragmented and dispersed, and this is why the complete Ayurveda is called Maharishi Ayurveda. At the beginning of the 1980s, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi brought to Europe this Maharishi Ayurveda, that is officially recognised in India by the All India Ayurveda Congress. An Ayurveda sales facility was established in Herkenbosch in the south of Holland, and today this is the home of Maharishi Ayurveda Products Europe, or MAPE for short. From these headquarters, markets in Holland, the Benelux countries, Switzerland, Austria, Britain, Scandinavia and, of course, Germany are supplied. The administration, distribution facility and dispatch are all under one roof, whilst the many deliveries from India are stored in a separate warehouse nearby. (Picture: Orders being put together in the distribution centre)

Using traditional recipes, Maharishi Ayurveda Products India manufactures roughly 900 products for the international market. The Ayurvedic herbs are cultivated mainly by small farmers in the Himalayas or they are wild harvested. They set great store by harvesting correctly and at the right time. Only herbs that are checked and approved by experts are processed in the modern production facilities to the south of New Delhi. The certification of MAP India in the federal state of Delhi, in the north of the country, includes HACCP, ISO and Good Manufacturing Practices WHO-GMP. Every imported batch is then examined again in Germany and checked for, for example, heavy metal contamination, microbes and pesticides. This bio-control is usually carried out by the international Swiss certification organization IMO. The natural cosmetics product range carries the BDIH logo. “We’re proud of the fact that we began early with the introduction of all the international quality assurance standards,” says managing director Shantanu Banerji, and he adds: “This means we’re one of the few Ayurveda firms in India operating at this quality level.” He has been at the head of the company for eleven years. (Picture: Shanatu Banerji is proud of the company’s modern production facilities in India and its quality standards)

“We feel responsible for the high quality, and for passing on the holistic concept and the relevant information,” says Gudrun Buchzik. She is the deputy managing director and has been involved with the subject for over two decades. The Ayurveda products are manufactured in India according to original recipes taken from revived old texts and with the guidance of Ayurvedic experts (vaidyas). About 2,000 trained workers are employed today in India in the production of Maharishi Ayurveda products. (Picture: The Ayurveda herbs are cultivated in the Himalayas or wild harvested)

Buchzik emphasizes the point that organic is becoming increasingly important, because in the last ten years the Ayurveda market has moved strongly in this direction and demand has risen correspondingly. MAP offers a selection of certified organic food (honey, rice, ghee, sesame oil), and spices and mixed spices, 80 % of the tea it sells and eight individual herbs sold as food supplements are certified organic too. In Germany, these products are supplied by, for example, Biogarten, Claus Pural, Oasis and Rinklin. The product range is also listed by various health food suppliers. The growing awareness of health has led to wholesalers supplying pharmacies adding Maharishi products to their stock. (Picture: Scientists at MAP India)

The complete cosmetics range is BDIH-certified. The 35 products – soaps, skincare, oral care, body and hair care – reflect the three Ayurvedic mind and body types (Vata, Pitta and Kapha). MAP was a founding member of the BDIH working group on natural and organic cosmetics, and it is also involved in the association’s Ayurveda working group. Despite all the difficulties in converting the extensive product range of Ayurvedic food supplements to organic ingredients only, this is their long-term aim. Alongside its already certified individual herb range, Maharishi Ayurveda Products is in the process, little by little, of converting complex recipes - containing up to 42 ingredients that are mostly already from wild harvesting or controlled agricultural production – to kbA products. (Picture: The whole cosmetics range carries the BDIH label for certified natural and organic cosmetics)

Experiencing Maharishi Ayurveda on a daily basis is important in the running of the firm. It is expressed in the opportunity the 35 employees have to begin the day with communal meditation and to take advantage of an annual Ayurvedic health check. Also everybody has the opportunity to eat an organic, vegetarian meal together that has been prepared according to Ayurvedic principles. Regarding the firm’s philosophy, Gudrun Buchzik says: “We have a mission. We know how good our Ayurveda products are, and that’s why we want to make them available to everybody. From cultivation to careful processing, the power of plants is inherent in our products.” (Picture: The 35 employees in MAPE headquarters in Herkenbosch experience Maharishi Ayurveda in their working lives)

Banerji explains that the challenge is to maintain authenticity, values and the quality of contents and at the same time to translate the complicated subject into language that is readily understood by people today.This is the reason why a part of the MAP mission is to provide the people who sell Ayurveda producte with the right informatioin. To achieve this goal, the company runs training and further training courses and gives them the chance to experience the practice of Ayurveda while staying at the Maharishi Ayurveda Health Centre in Bad Ems. The firm also has its own service centre, where ten staff are on hand to deal with telephone enquiries from the public. A wide range of literature, music and information material, like massage instuctions, seasonal tips, an Ayurveda cook book, etc., is also available from MAPE. (Picture: Maharishi Ayurveda Health Clinic in Bad Ems)

MAPE works closely together with a number of institutions, such as the German Association of Ayurveda. In December 2010, Maharishi Products founded the Ayurveda Producers’ and Traders’ Association, APTA, whose aim includes sustaining and expanding the availability of Ayurveda products in Europe. This aim derives from the claim that the Ayurveda way of life, foods and food supplements have a preventative effect. The association’s work also includes publicity and lobbying, a key issue being the Novel Food Regulation. (Picture: Every year, thousands of packages are sent out to end customers, retailers and wholesalers)

“Interest in Ayurveda is still growing,” Shantanu Banerji declares. The media are taking up the topic more and more frequently, especially in connection with the increasing problems in the state health system and people’s search for alternatives. Gudrun Buchzik says they have noticed this trend for about five years now. Thus they are upbeat about prospects for MAPE in Herkenbosch. In the words of Banerji: “This year, we’re aiming for double-digit growth.”





11.04.2011

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