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ITC plans to broaden dairy portfolio, tap Bengal’s ‘low’ milk availability

Diversified conglomerate ITC Ltd  is looking to widen its product portfolio in the dairy segment and tap the low milk consumption in West Bengal, a company official said on Thursday.

Per capita availability of milk in West Bengal is ‘low’, one-third of the national average of 427 grams per day, he said.

We want to widen the range of dairy products from milk, ghee, curd, lassi, paneer. We keep studying consumers’ requirement and accordingly launching new products, ITC Chief Operating Officer for dairy and beverages Sanjay Singal told PTI on the sidelines of a programme at the Bengal Global Business Summit.

We now have a presence in West Bengal and Bihar (for dairy business) and will continue to concentrate on these two states for the next few years.

“There are no nation-wide fresh dairy players as one has to have a supply chain set up for everyday delivery,” Singal said.

The two states currently contribute equally to its dairy business  with around 50 per cent share each, he said, adding that the company has a 10-15 per cent share of the fresh dairy market in Kolkata.

“Milk consumption is one-third of the national average in Bengal. There is an opportunity for all players,” he said.

The diversified conglomerate currently procures milk from around 10,000 farmers in West Bengal’s Hooghly, Howrah and Maldah, Singal said.

Asked about the price trend of milk products in the sector, he said, Every category has had an inflationary headwind. We try to reduce pressure on consumers due to price increases and concentrate on efficiency to reduce costs in the value chain. There was an increase in milk prices across the country. We always try to minimise that impact. Everybody increased the price by an average of Rs 2 per litre and we also did the same thing.

Dairy is the single largest agricultural commodity contributing 5 per cent of the national economy and employing more than 8 crore farmers directly.

India is ranked 1st in milk production contributing 23 per cent of global milk production, according to the latest Economic Survey.

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