Freshmen’s Valley, a newly set up dairy company is claiming to provide premium quality milk and milk products to the consumers in Uttarkhand and western Uttar Pradesh. ANANT CHOUDHARY, director of the company talks to MOHD MUSTAQUIM on his milk procurement, supply chain, quality standards, farmers connect among various aspects...
What is the biggest single competitive issue for dairy industry today?
Although, India is one of the largest markets for the dairy sector globally, there are certain gaps in terms of hygienic and quality products available. However, there’s a huge headroom in the market for the same. This inspired me to venture into this business and try to leverage on our experience, knowledge and expertise and bring hygienic and quality products to the customer.
Freshmen’s Valley was incorporated with an objective to create an amalgamation of traditional values and high–end technology. We are utilising cutting edge technology and quality checks at each level to ensure a seamless functioning of the entire process and provide quality product to our customers.
Milk is a low operating profit margin business. What is your strategy to improve the margins?
In order to maintain the margins, we are procuring milk from nearby villages with high fat percentage and providing 24 hours electricity supply to reduce running cost. We are focusing on fresh products, following SOP and distribution channels along with various other measures.
How do you face the competition from existing brands and how do you tackle them?
We have entered into the market with a strong intention of delivering a quality product to the consumers. We did a thorough research and saw a huge gap between the demand and supply of pure, hygienic and quality milk. We are confident of our strong delivery systems, quality checks and state-of-the-art technology, used in the entire process. These factors are key to establish the brand and product as distinctive and fresh. Our products carry a number of USPs, such as they are pure and fresh premium dairy products with international quality standards. Quality checks to ensure purity at collection level, quality control through ultra-modern lab facility, ultra-modern technology used to ensure superior product quality with technology integration at the grass root level and cutting down intermediary and introducing aggregators for the benefits of the farmers are our main USPs.
Please throw some light on the company and the product profile?
Freshmen’s Valley was incorporated in 2015 with an aim to provide high quality and hygienic dairy products of international standards. The core objective of the company is to bring ‘fresh milk from farm to the consumers’ table using high end processing and packaging technology to preserve the nutrients of the dairy products’. Besides, delivering quality product to the consumers, the company further believes in creating sustainable business model to benefit its most important stakeholder, the farmers.
Through our CSR initiatives, we are focusing on resolute skill development of the dairy farming community it operates in. The company also believes in giving back to its local communities, whereby it has dedicated programmes to help the community create new avenues for income generation. The initiatives include IT training, periodic medical and health camps by veterinary doctors and nutritionists, regular workshop to impart education on cattle welfare and personal hygiene.
Right now the products which are available in the market are pouch milk, which are available in 6 variants - Full Cream Milk, Standardised Milk, Toned Milk, Double Toned Milk and 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. In the following months, we are planning to add Ghee, Flavoured Milk,Fruit Yoghurt and Greek Yoghurt to our portfolio.
How do your products different from others?
We believe in providing quality and international standard products to our consumers. The quality standards that we have brought into the Indian dairy industry are new. The milk is not only hygienic and high in quality but also produced using state-of-the-art, international standards, in dairy production. Our focus on research and development and use of cutting-edge technology also enable us to showcase an international product in the domestic market. The region (Terai), from where we are procuring milk has the best quality milk FAT and SNF. This is one of the few regions in India where average FAT and SNF of milk is 6.6 per cent and 9 per cent respectively due to climatic conditions.
In what geographical areas you are focusing on?
In the first phase, our primary focus is on Uttarakhand and cities of western Uttar Pradesh like Moradabad, Rampur, Bareilly, Muzaffarnagar, Saharanpur, Amroha, Sambhal, Meerut, Ghaziabad and Noida. In the next phase, we will be expanding into other parts of western UP and northern India including Delhi, NCR to further deepen our reach in the existing cities.
Tell us something about your milk procurement model from farmers as well as payment system?
Freshmen’s Valley makes direct payments to sahayaks. The sahayaks are milk aggregators who have an agreement with the company and work on commission basis. These Sahayaks then pay to the farmers.
How do you put a check on adulteration?
Our advance technology used in the processing plant allows us to handle milk without any physical intervention or contact. We are using robust procedure of quality checks and international testing standards, comprising of 21 parameters of quality checks at the reception level. For transportation, our machines are equipped to check the milk for fat and SNF on seven parameters which again 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.
For any product, the production side is very important, how do you ensure better productivity of milk by the farmers?
Freshmen’s Valley aims to provide quality milk to the consumers and for that we follow certain mandatory steps to ensure a high standard of quality, such as we have created village level institutional structures following FPO principles and safeguarding the interests of farmers by organising direct payment to them, running training classes to educate farmers on the latest development in the field of breeding, feeding and management practices. We organise multiple free camps at the village level, frequently organise high quality fodder seeds and compound cattle feed and reduce time-gap between milking and processing which can detect animal disease at reception and quality control through modern lab facility.
Milk is a highly perishable commodity, how do you tackle this issue from procurement to distribution?
Once the milk from several dairy farmers is collected in Freshmen’s Valley milk bank, located across the targeted villages, it gets chilled before transportation. A thorough and robust ERP system manages the farmers’ entire data. There is a regular route plan with the timings to pick up milk cans twice in a day. The Sahayaks collect milk from the farmers within the village. After all the tests are done, each farmer’s data quantity, FAT & SNF percentage with farmer’s unique number is entered in Mobiliz, directly connected to the company’s server. This is applicable for all the farmers who provide milk to the company’s milk bank. Distribution is done through a temperature controlled trucks to ensure that the quality and hygiene is preserved. City distribution is done through conventional means, Super Distributor-Retailer Model.
What are your future plans for next 5 years?
Freshmen’s Valley promises to provide its consumers, the freshest of milk produce. We ensure that the milk is procured and reaches the market at the earliest from its source of origin. The brand adopts the highest levels of quality checks at every stage to ensure the best produce. Our vision is substantiated by ensuring that not only does the farmer get the right price each and every time, but also they are able to access a variety of extension services aimed at bringing in quality and clean milk production. Through this programme, we aim to bring in overall development of the dairy farmer community. Our goal is to make Freshmen's Valley as one of leading dairy brand in India.