World Milk Day: These 4 dairy startups are bringing about another 'white revolution'
Milk is a staple in our diets. The white liquid is a source of much-needed protein and fat, and makes our desserts taste delicious.
When we talk about milk, especially in India, many known brands come to mind. However, nothing beats Amul — the result of the White Revolution or Operation Flood — started by the late Dr Verghese Kurien.
Dr Kurien had a vision — he wanted to offer small-scale dairy farmers quality-control units and centralised marketing. Thus, the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) was created in 1973 to market milk and all milk products produced by six district cooperative unions in Gujarat.
Fast forward to the 2000s, as much as 68 percent of milk and other dairy products do not fulfil the standards laid down by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).
In recent years, India has seen a surge in dairy-based startups, which are revolutionising the sector by leveraging technology. With a change in lifestyle and higher disposable incomes, the demand for organic, farm-fresh milk is on the rise.
On the occasion of World Milk Day, YS Weekender brings you a few such dairy startups that are constantly reinventing to provide good produce every day.
IIM graduate Manish Piyush, who worked in 14 countries in senior positions, came back to his home state Jharkhand to solve a basic problem — access to chemical-free milk.
“People are craving to solve urban problems, but not many are solving some basic problems in India,” says Manish.
Manish joined hands with his childhood friend Aditya Kumar to start the milk subscription app Foods in 2019. The Ranchi-based startup provides organic cow milk and chemical-free dairy products.
Since its launch, Puresh is now selling over 1,000 litres of milk every day, has over 1,500 customers, and is seeing profits. Since milk is an essential item, Puresh saw a 100 percent jump in its revenue during the coronavirus lockdown, says Manish.
A quest for healthy and pure cow’s milk led Kanika Yadav to be a dairy farmer and start , a dairy startup clocking revenue in crores today. She started the Delhi-based startup along with co-founder Sanjeev Yadav in 2015.
The Delhi-based entrepreneur says she grew up drinking pure cow’s milk from cattle at home till she was 28 years old. However, Kanika’s family had to give away the cattle at home in Rajokri, Delhi in 2014 when she was working as a progressive educator.
Cattle at Whyte Farms's 30-acre farm in Tijara, Rajashtan
Recalling her search for a regular supply of quality milk, she says, “The quality of milk in the capital is bad, despite India being the largest producer of milk in the world. The packaged milk is not fresh and comes through long supply chains. With the local doodhwala, we were concerned about hygiene and what the cattle were fed. I researched and even tried imported milk in tetra packs that cost Rs 300 per litre.”
Whyte Farms claims to be the healthier alternative, with all the processes from chilling, pasteurising, and packaging taking place at its 30-acre farm in Tijara, located 90 km from Delhi.
Packaged in glass bottles, the milk is delivered to more than 3,000 households within 8 to 12 hours of the cows being milked, without the help of any external agency.
Hooghly-based SRC Farms is attempting to set an example in the dairy space by taking special care of its cattle’s health, comfort, and nutrition.
Founded by Harsh Bihani, Indranil Sen, Uma Shankar Rathi, and Ashok Chandak in 2012, the dairy farm is known for its fully mechanised, safe milk extraction, storage processes, and its environmentally sound and animal-friendly engagements.
“There is a slew of cases within the Indian dairy industry where cattle are mistreated, and additives added to their produce. These unhealthy practices tend to take a toll on both the animals and the consumers. We wanted to build a farm free from these unhealthy activities and also bring about a positive difference in the entire value chain involved,” says Harsh Bihani, Co-founder, SRC Farms.
One of its technological intervention, DelPro, records data, including the yield given by each animal, date of pregnancy, and time of vaccination of the cattle, and other details regarding everyday milking and feeding.
The health of the cattle is given priority at SRC Farms.
The cows at SRC Farms are milked about thrice a day using machines driven by vacuum and pulsation without any human intervention. Once this is complete, the milk is automatically transferred to a bulk cold storage facility of four degrees Celsius.
In fact, to promote and use a clean and renewable source of energy, SRC Farms assembled a biogas plant in 2018. All the cow dung generated in the farm is fed into the plant as an input. The resultant biogas energy is used to electrify the farm.
Prompt Equipments Pvt Ltd
Operation Flood transformed India from a milk deficient nation to the world’s largest milk producing nation, surpassing the US in 1997-98.
As the sector was still in its nascent stage in the early 90s, Ahmedabad-based PN Mehta realised there was scope for growth with technology adaptation.
Mehta was already into portable electric power tools manufacturing, a business he started in 1978, and so foraying into dairy tech was not as cumbersome, and in 1992, Prompt Equipments Pvt Ltd was born.
Prompt Equipments Pvt Ltd has clients pan-India, including Amul, Heritage, Mother Dairy, Ananda, etc.
His son and second-generation entrepreneur Shridhar Mehta recalls that in 1995, the company launched the Automatic Milk Collection System, followed by Fat’omatic — a fully automatic milk fat measuring machine in 1999.
Prompt's equipment on display
In 2009, Prompt partnered with a Russian company that provided technology based on ultrasonics to launch a milk analyser that measured features like — fat, density, Solid-Not-Fat (SNF), and the amount of water added in the milk. The dairy sector greatly appreciated this new technology as Shridhar says it helped farmers identify clean milk.