The dairy-tech company plans to utilise the first round of fundraise to expand its network of milk collection centres and strengthen its digital, analytics capabilities in the supply chain.
MilkLane, a dairy startup, controls end-to-end supply chain that ensures high-quality milk for industrial off-takers and consumers. It has raised $4 million in a funding round led by Pioneering Ventures a Swiss-based incubator and investment firm; US-based dairy company, Schreiber Foods; and ultra-high net worth families.
India is the largest milk producer in the world with millions working across the industry’s supply chain. Even then the sector largely remains unorganised in terms of collection and due to underdeveloped distribution, leading to problems such as poor-quality milk, which can be contaminated with antibiotics and toxins.
MilkLane aims to address these challenges by fundamentally transforming the critical stages of the entire supply chain. Its integrated procurement system preserves the freshness and quality of milk through the effective use of technology. In addition to that, the company provides high-quality toxin-free cattle feed to mitigate health risks caused due to the prolonged feeding of mold-infested fodder that can contaminate the milk with aflatoxins.
MilkLane intends to create a pan-India network of small industrial production units, village level bulk coolers and introduce IT-enabled solutions to provide a fresh, safe and steady supply of high-quality milk (free of contamination) to industrial processors, FMCG companies, milk product manufacturers, and consumers.
The dairy-tech startup hopes to disrupt the existing milk supply chain models through strong elements of rural entrepreneurship, digitalisation and a holistic approach that includes providing veterinary services, fodder services, financial services and business support to Indian dairy farmers.
In 2015, MilkLane (ML) got incubated in Pioneering Ventures, a leading incubator and accelerator of ventures within the Indian agriculture and food supply chain space. After a year of preparation, MilkLane started its milk collection operations in January 2017 at Kuppam, Andhra Pradesh, and within a span of six months started delivering 85,000 liters per day.
Swiss-based Pioneering Ventures is an incubator and accelerator of projects within the Indian agriculture and food supply chain space. Apart from MilkLane, Pioneering Ventures is working with frozen concentrate orange juice producer Citrus International; fruit and vegetable supply chain company, FarmLink; and Gujarat-based banana distributor Desai Fruits and Vegetables, among others.
Akshaya Kamath, Director, Pioneering Ventures, said, “We intend to develop ventures that generate sustainable financial returns while contributing to the development of rural India, thereby ultimately improving the lives of hundreds of thousands of farmers in the country. From the well-being of the dairy farmer to providing high-quality milk to the customers, MilkLane brings the best of both the worlds. We are excited to partner with them on this journey.”
Last month, FarmLink raised seed stage funding of Rs 20 crore ($3 million) led by Pioneering Ventures and Syngenta, a Swiss agribusiness firm.
How MilkLane aims to deliver high-quality milk
The milk collection platform claims to be India’s first industrial-scale collection and distribution platform for high-quality milk.
It has deployed a comprehensive quality and productivity enhancement programme including producer training and extension services, and seeks the best quality at source.
Gaurav Haran, COO of MilkLane, said, “We aim to improve India’s dairy supply chain by applying international quality standards in technology and innovation to the ‘first mile’ of milk.”
Helping dairy farmers
The company procures milk from selected dairy farmers and delivers it to industrial scale off-takers such as industrial processors, FMCG companies, and milk product manufacturers.
The dairy farmers bring the milk to strategically located bulk cooling tankers, maintained at a temperature of four degrees Celsius, which preserves the freshness of the milk by inhibiting bacterial growth.
The collected milk is then subjected to a series of tests, which include determining the fats and solids-not-fat (SNF) components and detecting the presence of antibiotics and aflatoxin contamination, to keep track of its safety and purity.
“We go the extra mile for the dairy farmers with a holistic training programme that educates and empowers them to realise their full potential. Our value-added services like enabling animal loans and insurance and providing veterinary supervision and breeding services are designed to ease their burdens and help them become independent entrepreneurs,” said Gaurav.
Today, MilkLane is associated with over 8,000 dairy farmers to improve their yield and income. The company’s bulk cooler operators play a vital role in creating employment opportunities in rural India. Over the next decade, MilkLane looks forward to improving the lives of more than 100,000 dairy farmers by setting up over 1,000 bulk coolers.