Milk startups offer variety to consumers

When a Wall Street programmer decided to relocate to Coimbatore from New York, one of the biggest problems he faced was the lack of A2 milk in his hometown Coimbatore.

His newborn son’s lactose intolerance was proving tortuous, till he decided to feed him milk from native breeds, used for jallikattu, like Puliyakulam, Kangeyam, which is rich in A2 milk. A2 milk is considered by the health conscious as a superior as it contains a beta-casein protein, unlike the more commonly available A1 milk sold by milk cooperatives like Amul, Aavin and Nandini.

V Shivakumar went on to form the Coimbatore-based Kongu Goshala to preserve Kangeyam and Tiruchengodu breeds. He also runs a mobile app Kongu Maddu, where people can place orders for A2 milk. A majority of the app’s users are from Theni, Palamedu, Pollachi, Alanganallur, Karur, Tiruchengode Erode, Tirupur, Oddanchatram and Attur.

Consumers, who have become more aware of the harms of steroid usage and oxytocins, are now opting for A2 milk, non-pasteurized fresh milk, organic milk from cows and buffaloes and free-range milk.

Startups like Shuddh Farms, The Milk Company are finding that price is no barrier and that people are willing to pay a hefty Rs 72 a packet versus the industry norm of Rs 12 for half a litre. “Large-scale mechanised farms use a lot oxytocins in cows to make them increase their milk output. In human women it used to induce labour pains, in cows the drug can prove harmful. Instead of milking cow only for the six months it is pregnant, they want to milk it year-round,” said Karthikeya Senapathy, founder, Kangayam Cattle Research Foundation. “So I buy only native cattle milk for my two girls, and I don’t mind paying Rs 80-Rs 100 for a half a litre. Our native cattle breeds are basically drought-animals and have lower yield compared to Jersey, Angus,” he added.

The Madras Milk Company, which prices cow milk at Rs 70 and buffalo milk at Rs 80, promises fresh delivery from the farm within 12 hours. Customers get their milk in cute vintage bottles and get them refilled everyday. “With an shelf-life of 7 days, organic milk is finding more traction in areas like Velachery, T.Nagar. Porur, and Sholinganallur,” said a manager at the Madras Milk Company.

Shudh Farms, which is located on the outskirts of Chennai, has a lush green patch for vegetation, where paddy, vegetables, fruit orchards, coconut groves nestle for space. Consumers of milk from the farm are invited for field trips to feed the cows, graze them and have a fun family outing. “We’ve had people drive nearly three hours to spend their holiday with us. People are happier with what we sell, and know the quality of what we offer after a day at the farm,” said Raja Marthandam, owner, Shuddh Farms.

While some are catering to specific segments, some are taking milk to the masses. “The product under the Milky Moo brand is in the mass premium segment. Our milk has a longer shelf life and we find equal contribution to our customer base from families as well; the milk from the company can be directly consumed without boiling,” said Srikumar Misra, founder, MD and CEO, Milky Moo. Besides innovations in milk, the company has on its platform, milk shakes made of consuming since 2015. Based out of Odisha, the company is recording a growth of 100% CAGR. “We hope to make it 10 times bigger, catering to the market mainly in Eastern India,” said Misra.

There are also those against large-scale, mechanised farming, and opting for free range cows. “We have a small unit of cows and we’ve have a dairy farming unit. Our cattle are allowed to roam free and we’ve found our milk well-received in the

local market,” said Dinesh Raju of Darmona Farms, a unit of Darmona Teas.

Milk basket, a Gurgaon based startup delivers milk to households every morning. Customers can choose from a range of brands and niche varieties of milk before 12 am, which would be delivered the next morning on a prepaid basis.

Satyendra Singh, head, marketing, Milk Basket says that while the consumers predominantly go for the branded products, an increasing number are gravitating towards niche varieties such as organic milk, A2 milk. “Families predominantly contribute to the customer base. Brands such as country fresh, Cow Boys and popular brands such as Mother Dairy and Amul are among the popularly sold,” added Singh.

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