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INTERVIEW

Govt’s financial support required to manage India’s vast milk resource
Monday, 10 April, 2017, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Established in the year 2015, Freshmen’s Valley Ltd is a contemporary milk and dairy product company with an amalgam of traditional values and cutting-edge technology to provide quality and hygienic dairy products of international standards. The company is a core believer in creating a sustainable business model, which not only delivers a quality product to the consumers, but also benefits farmers. The company is also engaged in skill development and advisory services to improve farmers’ earnings and the overall development of the region.

Anant Choudhary, director, Freshmen’s Valley Ltd, talked about the company's plan to launch new products like ghee, fruit yoghurt and flavoured milk, and the latest technology used in the production, in an e-mail interaction with Harcha Bhaskar. The company plans to expand its reach to direct consumers in Western Uttar Pradesh, Uttrakhand and the National Capital Region (NCR) region. Excerpts:

Tell us about the infrastructure facilities of dairy plants and chilling centres. How much milk is procured and processed per day? How much has the production and procuring capacity grown over the last five years?
Freshmen’s Valley was incorporated in 2015, with an objective to create a hybrid system of traditional values and high-end technology to provide quality and hygienic dairy products of international standards. Freshmen’s Valley dairy products were launched in the market on July 12, 2016. The company’s plant is located in Bahjoi in Uttar Pradesh’s Sambhal district, which is one of the richest milk-producing regions in the state. The idea was to remain close to the farmers but not too far from the consumers, ensuring the freshness of the milk products. The advanced technology we use at the processing plant allows us to handle milk without any physical human intervention or contact. This also helps complete the process at an accelerated speed and in a shorter time frame. We use robust procedure of quality checks and international testing standards (comprising of 21 parameters of quality checks) at the reception level. Our machines are equipped to check the milk for fat and solids non-fat (SNF) on seven parameters, which is unique in the Indian dairy industry. To ensure the purity of milk, the trucks have GPS, cameras and door sensors installed to track the movement till it reaches the processing plant.

Our plant capacity is 1,50,000 litre a day, expandable to three lakh litre. Currently in a short span of time in Western Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, we are able to sell almost 50,000 litre a day.

How much is the total production of Freshmen’s Ghee? How much share does your product have in the Indian market?
We are a start-up, just six months into the market. Right now, the products which are available in the market are pouch milk, which are available in six variants - full-cream milk, standardised milk, toned milk, double-toned milk, skimmed milk and chaiwala (tea special milk). The brand is also offering an assortment of other dairy products like fresh curd, chaach, masala chaach and malai paneer. We plan to launch ghee in the second phase.

How is this milk further divided to be used in the processing of various dairy products? What are the various quality checks done at the various steps of manufacturing of products?
Seventy-five per cent of the milk procured is utilised for fresh milk and fermented milk products, and the rest is for acid-coagulated and fat-rich dairy products.

We use robust procedure of quality checks and international testing standards (comprising of 21 parameters of quality checks) at the reception level. Our machines are equipped to check the milk for fat and SNF on seven parameters, which is unique in the Indian dairy industry.

Currently, which of your products have a strong market in India and for the consumption/distribution of which of your products, and what is the market share?
Paneer and fresh milk are our key products.

What are the various technologies used in manufacturing the products? Are they from India or imported? If imported, from which country?
The sole aim of this enterprise is to provide high-quality, fresh and hygienic dairy products in keeping with international standards. Freshmen’s Valley is poised to revolutionise the dairy production processes in India by breathing a new lease of life into the conventional methods of operations.

The brand adopts the highest levels of quality checks at every stage to ensure the best produce. We use Tetrapak machinery for pasteurisation, sterilisation and ultra-filtration.

What are your plans to launch new products and expand?
Our research and development (R&D) team is constantly focusing on new product development and value-added products. We are utilising modern technology and quality checks at each level to ensure the seamless functioning of the entire process, enabling the best to reach our customers.

In the following months, we are planning to add ghee, flavoured milk, fruit yoghurt and Greek yoghurt to our portfolio.

What are the various innovations taking place in the dairy sector in India (lactose-free/protein-enriched)? How do you see the Indian future market for flavoured yoghurt and desserts?
Various innovations in the dairy sector are vitamin- and mineral-enriched milk, probiotic, herbal milk, protein-rich and fortified with omega fatty acids.

The Indian yoghurt market is valued at an estimate of around Rs 1,500 crore, and expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20-25 per cent in the coming year.

Who are the significant clients? Will there be tie-ups with companies, hotels, caterers and restaurants?
Milk, being a mass product, we are currently focused to reach our direct consumers in Western Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and the National Capital Region (NCR). As we expand our range of products, we will also look forward for expansion in modern retail formats, institutional sales, hotels, caterers and restaurants.

What is the projected turnover for the year 2016-2017? At what rate is the company growing?
We launched in mid-July 2016, and within a short period of time, our projected turnover for the first year is expected to be Rs 40-45 crore, with a CAGR of 15-20 per cent in the coming year.

Who are your competitors? How competitive is the industry, with Patanjali entering the dairy segment soon?
Healthy competition and a dynamic market space is always a positive ground to be a part of. Being in the nascent stage of the journey, we ideally would like to focus on our vision and key deliverables to provide fresh, healthy and quality products.

What are your views on the increasing demand for extended shelf life (ESL)? What are the various factors that can increase the shelf life of dairy products?

Various factors like packaging and hygiene conditions in order to reduce microbial load help in increasing ESL. Every manufacturer wants to maintain nutritional hygiene and delicious taste in products with a longer shelf life.

At what rate is the Indian dairy industry growing? According to you, where does the Indian diary industry lack in global scenario, and how can it be overcome?
India is the top producer of dairy products, and the expected growth of dairy products would be a CAGR of six per cent in the next three years.

Infrastructure, logistic development, procurement, yield and distribution are the areas of focus and concern. By focusing on the above areas and keeping quality and hygiene as the topmost priority, we can be neck-to-neck at the global level.
 
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