UHT milk demand moves up

The Covid pandemic has boosted demand for ultra high temperature (UHT) treated milk as people try to reduce the number of visits to milk parlours by stocking milk with longer shelf life. While dairies that have been present in this segment experienced a jump in demand, Maharashtra-based Gokul dairy, with an annual turnover of Rs 2500 crore, has entered this segment to cater to the pandemic-induced demand.

The big dairies that have been already selling UHT milk experienced increased demand during the lockdown. “The tetra pack milk category in the initial days of the lockdown had seen immense demand due to panic buying among consumers, and the demand stabilized in the later days,” said a Mother Dairy, spokesperson.

Looking at this behavioural change of the consumer, Kolhapur-based Gokul has decided to enter this category with launch of UHT treated milk with six months of shelf life.

Buying behaviour of milk in Mumbai

“The buying behavior in Mumbai is shifting towards Tetra Pack milk due to its higher shelf life and ease of use. It gives the customer the opportunity to stock the product for monthly supply. This pattern has seen a huge jump during Covid and lockdown times, while following social distancing norms,” said Ravindra Apte, chairman, Kolhapur Zilla Sahakari Dudh Utpadak Sangh Ltd, which sells its milk under the Gokul brand.

Dairies have already experienced a shift of consumers from loose milk and smaller brands to packaged milk from the bigger brands. The preference for fresh milk is also because of its affordability. RS Sodhi, chairman, Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation, the maker of Amul, noted this.

5% of the milk sold is UHT

“Of the 5.25 crore litre of packaged milk sold daily in the country, around 5% is UTH milk, which has a shelf life of 3 to 6 months. The demand is more in the traditionally milk deficit states. However during the pandemic, demand for UHT milk has increased by about 15%,” Sodhi said.

Gokul aims to gain 20 per cent market share in a couple of years of the current 5 lakh litres of overall Tetra Pack milk market size in Mumbai and plans to take its UHT milk to Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, the north eastern states and Goa, where availability of fresh milk is restricted. It has plans to set up a separate facility at Mumbai that will also have a Tetra packaging facility.

Source: The Economic Times

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