Diversified conglomerate ITC will focus on the eastern regional markets of the country for its new dairy business vertical, a company official said on Thursday. The company is now offering its dairy products in the two eastern markets of West Bengal and Bihar
The company has launched a one of its kind milk quality monitoring system which would empower consumers to know about their milk quality. The consumer will have to just enter the batch number of their pouch on corporate website aashirwaadswasti.in . The site will provide test report of the milk on 27 parameters which includes neutralisers and adulterants.
Milk quality has been a serious concern for both regulatory and the consumers. The regulator has also proposed STI (a scheme of testing and inspection) for liquid milk plants. All the dairy plants have to adhere to that plan so as to ensure consistency and transparency in milk testing and record keeping.
ITC ensures high quality of milk directly from their network dairy farmers under Project Gomukh . “We are to focus on eastern markets of the country for our new dairy business. However, plans are there to expand the range and footprint also”, Sanjay Singhal, COO of dairy and beverages business of ITC said.
The company has three facilities in these states, one each in Munger, Patna and Howrah.
ITC entered the dairy segment in 2018, beginning with pouched milk offerings in Bihar. Subsequently, it expanded into Kolkata. The product portfolio was expanded into the value-added segment to include curds, paneer and lassi. New offerings and tetra packs (for milk) are being explored too.
“At least for the next few years, we will tap new markets of Bihar and Bengal and consolidate presence in existing ones. For instance, we are looking at the other suburban markets around Kolkata,” he said post the launch of the ‘Aashirvaad Svasti Select’ milk. The premium offering comes with an option where consumers can track online the nutritional and health parameters of the product.
New distribution channels that include direct to home delivery of milk have been set up apart from the existing ones for its FMCG offerings. Doorstep delivery is done in at least 20-30 per cent of the households; while the company’s e-store has been ramped up to sell its entire range of FMCG offerings (apart from cigarettes).
“Once we are through with Bihar and Bengal, we will explore other markets of the East,” Singal told BusinessLine adding that in the fresh milk category ITC enjoys an 8-10 per cent market share; while in the value-added categories “market share will be higher”.
Speaking to reporters virtually, he said the company’s dairy business is receiving good responses in West Bengal where is market share is growing. ITC launched its dairy products in the state two years ago, a year after Bihar.
Singhal said, “India is the largest milk producer in the world and there is a good scope for penetration of pouch milk in these markets”. Presently, ITC’s dairy range includes milk, paneer, curd, ghee, and milkshakes.
He said that the company has invested in developing cold chains for milk right from the source to factories where the product is processed.
According to him, the company’s food products are also available on the ITC store and other e-commerce platforms.