IIM alumnus leaves cushy corporate job to start Matratva Dairy in Ajmer
Ankita Kumawat left a corporate job in the US to start dairy farming in Rajasthan's Ajmer district. It produces A2 milk, ghee, butter, sweets, and buttermilk.
For IIM-Kolkata alumnus Ankita Kumawat, business is all about it being in the family. Her father, Phool Chand Kumawat, has been associated with dairy farming for more than two decades. Ankita used to help her father whenever she had the time. Her interest grew and this led to the launch of Matratva Dairy in 2014.
Ajmer-based Matratva Dairy was registered in 2016 to produce A2 milk and its products - ghee, butter, sweets, and buttermilk.
Matratva sources its milk from procured indigenous cow breeds. It follows traditional methods and uses the least number of machines.
A month ago, Ankita set up her business, Goratan Products Pvt. Ltd., through which she now sells Matratva Dairy's products.
From co-founders to life partners
Ankita met Lokesh Gupta, the co-founder and production head, through a common friend. However, they lost touch with each other when Ankita moved to the US. After returning to India, Ankita worked with Derewala Industries Ltd. in Jaipur. She would work part-time with her father at his farm, where he would breed exotic breeds of cows.
Ankita wanted to have a business of her own and that required her to leave her full-time job in Jaipur and shift to Alwar, to focus on dairy farming. It was then she contacted Lokesh, a biotechnology graduate, who shared her interest in farming.
"We became business partners and later got married," says 31-year-old Ankita, who manages the sales and marketing aspect of the business.
Matratva is now a team of 11 - comprising five members of Ankita's family and six employees.
More than just milk
The Gir breed of cows, procured from Gujarat, are crossbred at Matratva's farms with pure breed bulls to produce the future generation of A2 milk. "Our prime objective is to develop and promote indigenous breeds like Gir, Sahiwal, Tharaparkar, and Rathi," says Ankita.
"At Matratva, we only produce A2 milk and its related value added products," she adds.
"A2 protein found in the milk of indigenous cows is preferred over A1 milk, which causes lactose allergies and digestive problems," claims the founder.
At Matratva Dairy, ghee and dairy products are made using traditional methods, and the cows are milked in the traditional way. "We want to maintain the purity and value of products and thus, we use a churning machine only," says Ankita.
A woman in a man's world
Ankita says she had to face a lot of challenges while setting up Matratva Dairy. Having no knowledge of farming, Ankita initially focused only on marketing. She visited various farms and had to seek her father's help to understand the industry, especially animal husbandry.
While visiting other farms to understand the business, Ankita realised "almost all farmers had exotic breeds at their farms because of their high milk yield."
Her father explained that indigenous cow milk production, despite being low, is very healthy and nutritive for the human body. "This conversation with my father made me think of setting up Matratva - an indigenous breed dairy farm," says Ankita.
Being a woman in the business was also tough.
“I was not taken seriously by the dealers," she says.
The other challenge was to make people aware of A2 milk and its health benefits. When they initially started with a retail and home delivery counter, Ankita personally visited each customer and educated them about A2 milk.
The dairy market
Value-added dairy products contribute to 35 percent of the total dairy market in India. The largest VAP category is ghee –which has a market share of 15 percent. Market shift from commercial cow products to A2 cow products have been observed from past couple of years.
Also, according to the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairy and Fisheries, organised milk handling is expected to grow from 20 percent to 50 percent by 2022-23. Players like Pride of Cow, Amrutha Dairy Farms, Akshayakalpa Farms have been in this business for some time.
While setting up the dairy farm, Ankita and Lokesh invested Rs 10 lakh from their savings. They have procured 25 cows as of now, each costing Rs 80,000 to Rs 1 lakh. They plan to procure 15 more, by taking loans from thebank.
A litre of A2 milk costs Rs 55, while a litre of ghee is priced at Rs 1,400. "We earn up to Rs 1 lakh per month," says Ankita. The founder claims that it has gained five new customers every week.
Matratva Dairy is marketed through online digital platforms. The company also creates awareness camps and displays their products at the Haat Bazaar in Ajmer, every Sunday.
Matratva Ghee is available at retail outlets in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Mumbai, Kerala, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Kolkata. The company plans to expand to other cities soon. After branding under Goratan Products Pvt. Ltd., Matratva Dairy is set to sell its products through e-commerce platforms like Amazon and BigBasket, within the next 15 days.
Ankita also has a second farm in Rajasthan's Nasirabad town, where natural honey and cereals are produced.