Michael Dwork, founder of VerTerra Dinnerware, a biodegradable dinnerware company in New York, said that consumers in the U.S. prefer to purchase bio leaf plate made from fallen leaves of arecanut palm trees because ‘it feels solid and feels like real plate’.
Interacting with mediapersons in Mangaluru on August 30, he said that his company intends to increase procurement of arecanut palm leaf plates in the next three years. These plates will be manufactured at Agrileaf Factory of Agrileaf Exports Private Limited at Barangaya, in Nidle village near Dharmasthala in Dakshina Kannada district of Karnataka. VerTerra Dinnerware is the business partner of Agrileaf.
“The cost of arecanut palm leaf plate is not cheap in the U.S. Cheaper bio plates are available. But consumers prefer arecanut plam leaf plate because of its quality and durability. It looks beautiful and is environment friendly. It is a good value proposition,” he said.
Mr. Dwork said that his company has been procuring plates from Agrileaf for four years. In this period, VerTerra Dinnerware would have procured about 3.5 crore (35 million) plates from Agrileaf.
Avinash Rao, co-founder and chief executive officer of Agrileaf Exports Private Limited, said, “Production capacity will go up from 50,000 plates to one lakh plates a day as Agrileaf has completed automation and upgradation of equipment. Normally, three plates of different sizes can be made from one leaf.”
Athishaya M. Jain, co founder of Agrileaf Exports Private Limited, said, “We pay ₹3 per leaf to farmers.”
New product in the pipeline
Mr. Jain said that Agrileaf will launch a new product — biodegradable plate made from sugarcane bagasse — after a year. No chemical will be used in the process (during de-colouring) of making the plate, which is the speciality of the new product. Even the arecanut palm leaf plate manufactured by the factory is chemical-free.
The factory has exported two lakh trays made from pinewood in the past one year.