Studies in the past have confirmed consumer preferences for proteins, dietary-fibres and whole-grains as the healthier-foods. The need for protein based food has been prevailing from pre pandemic times. Dairy based foods are becoming the first choice of consumers during the ongoing pandemic times. The labels of the dairy products in India are trying to reinforce the lineage of the products with a captive dairy farm. Even big dairy brands are also trying to woo the consumers in this way . They are making claims that their products are 100% pure cow /buffalo or A2 at its core and are farm fresh.
Most of the dairies are trying to position themselves in the following four key areas :
- Purity of product as cow milk/ buffalo milk/ A2 /Fresh farm/ Single Origin (Transmitted)
- Process certification like HACCP/ ISO 22000/ FSSC , etc ( Tolerance)
- Analysis of purity of milk by using 12/16/22/28/36/42 tests for adulterants and contaminants ( Testing)
- Tracking of milk in the supply chain particularly in case of direct to home arrangements.(Traceability)
4T formula of Authenticity
The consumers are feeling happy to see such claims. She is also spending more to buy these products with tall claims. I am not sure of the capabilities of these companies and particularly the new startups to make such claims. There seems to be a rat race of writing something good on the labels without verifying whether that is right or not. I consider the above mentioned four points as the four pillars of authenticity of any dairy products. Interestingly these four critical points turn out to be an acronym as 4T . We shall be using 4T as a formula for verifying Authenticity of dairy products from now onwards.
Authentic never means perfect. It simply means conforming to fact and thus worthy of belief. Today the dairy industry has authenticity, as a bigger challenge than food safety. People are selling their products by making false claims on 4Ts. I think that the consumer demands authenticity. She will buy your product if you are truthful. Pure cow or buffalo, Pure A2 or A1/A2, Fresh or direct from the farm are just other ways of lying if you are not following the 4Ts. Simon Sinek has given a very good illustration on the term authenticity as follows .
Imperfections are not bad
It’s time to embrace the imperfections. Imperfections are not bad. We could offer safe products even after being imperfect or inauthentic on the 4Ts. However the Food safety has more to do with the regulator but authenticity is an overarching theme for doing any food business. It impacts all the stakeholders including farmers, consumers, society, investors, government, regulator, etc. The consumer demands truth and not a perfect offering. Perfection has no meaning in the world of commodities.
Most of these startups need to answer the following questions before making any claim on their labels :
- Do they really get their milk and milk products tested for -cow/buffalo/A1/A2 before writing it on their labels ?
- Are they really owning dairy farms or collecting milk from the farms under 100% of their control ?
- Do they regularly get their milk tested daily for all the adulterants and contaminants written on their labels?
- Are they really capable of tracking milk from farm to table as they claim?
Authenticity Rating Scale-The future of Food labelling
This is the right time for all of us to think beyond nutritional labels. There is a need to test all the foods on an authenticity rating scale. Authenticity rating scale may be calibrated on the basis of parameters of 4T model. We need to look for institutionalisation of this rating system. Any dairy company will be allowed to get their system audited, verified and rated on this scale. We shall have an eco system of such rating agencies out of existing quality certifications and food safety auditing agencies.
We can also make this rating system as a voluntary standard for seeking investment from any investor or even government agencies.The blue print of this rating system is ready with us now and we seek patronage by the industry. I request cooperation by all of you for making this rating system a reality.
Source : Dairy Blog by Kuldeep Sharma, Chief editor Dairynews7x7