6 Challenges That Milk Processing Units Face Here's how you can encounter various challenges while establishing and running a milk processing plant
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India is the largest producer as well as consumer of milk in the world, though there are many countries which are larger in landscape and population India continues to dominate the world's milk markets. It is estimated that by 2022, India will have annual demand (or production?) of 210-220 million tonnes per year. Though it is one of the things that India should be proud of, there remain continuous reports like the National Milk Quality Survey conducted by FSSAI in 2018 stating that about 49per cent of milk samples tested were non-compliant as per FSSAI standards which is an alarming situation. Indians consider milk to be one of the vital source of protein since a large part of the population in India is vegetarian. Though we are a country with one of the highest production of milk there are challenges that the organised players face in the whole milk collection process. Some of the challenges and how to encounter them are as follows:
Low Yield due to Poor Nutrition for Cattle: One of the big challenges for Indian dairy farmers is the low productivity of our cattle and one big reason for this problem is the improper feed management at our farms. Every cattle, based on its body weight, needs the correct balance of dry fodder, green fodder and other vital nutrients through concentrate feed or other sources and also it is important to provide this consistently throughout the year. Due to the low availability of adequate green fodder to lack of awareness about feeding practices leads to improper diets for the cattle which results in the cattle not reaching its full potential in milk yield. It is important to create awareness in the farmers about the right feeding practices and also provide them with good quality cattle feed.
Preventive Care and Proper Treatment Against Diseases: Due to poor farm management practices the incidences of diseases is much higher and this leads to loss of milk production which is an economic loss for the farmer and then eventually for the milk processor. Therefore it is extremely important that a huge focus is put on preventive care such as timely vaccination. But also if the cattle fall ill it needs to be treated with the right medication after getting expert medical advice. It is important that the milk processing companies organise regular health check-up camps for the benefit of their farmers and their cows and buffaloes.
Test for Antibiotics: There is a trend suggesting increased use of antibiotics in the cattle which eventually leads to the presence of antibiotics in the milk we will consume and that is going to be harmful to us. Therefore as milk processors, we need to ensure that we collect and use only antibiotic-free milk for making milk products and do not expose our consumers to the potentially harmful effects of antibiotics. It is very important to test the milk for antibiotics in the in-house lab of the factory on a daily basis before it is sent for further processing. Also, it is important to educate the dairy farmers do not use antibiotics for any and every disease that the animal faces. With the focus on preventive care and reduction in the use of antibiotics, we can ensure better quality and safe milk procurement.
Clean Milk Production: It is the duty of milk processing units to educate the farmers and hold regular meetings with farmers to train them about clean and hygienic milk practices. Some simple steps regarding the cleanliness of the animal surrounding, hygiene of the milking person, collecting milk in clean containers etc. will massively help in keeping a very low bacterial count which means high-quality milk. Clean milk production means healthier milk for consumers.
Adulteration in Milk: Our country is facing a huge challenge of adulteration in both raw milk collection and final milk products as also established in the FSSAI study conducted in 2018. For small economic gains, some people engage in adulteration of milk which could be extremely harmful to the end consumers. Loose milk being sold directly to consumers in cities and towns is at high risk of adulteration of harmful substances. In the organised sector, it is imperative for milk processing units to ensure that 100 per cent of milk is procured directly from known sources only and there should be a proper mechanism to instantly check for adulteration at each milk collection centre. After this milk reaches the processing unit, more adulteration checks need to be done to ensure that there is no contamination in milk while in transit. At Rufil dairy this matter is taken very seriously and each farmer's milk is tested on special equipment for all types of adulterants. It is important to test and reject the adulterated milk right at the source and every milk processor should strive to achieve this in their system.
Chill and Store: Milk storage starts from milk collection point and if the milk is held at ambient temperature for long duration then the milk quality deteriorates. Therefore it is very important that quick chilling of milk is done at the source itself to preserve the freshness of the milk and adoption of this system helps a lot in improving milk quality. The milk collection system followed by most companies doesn't have cooling systems at village level centres but now few organised companies are partially trying the Bulk Milk Colling (BMC) system where the milk is cooled to 4 deg C in tanks at collection centres in a short time. However few companies like Rufil have adopted modern technology with 100per cent BMC model in which once the milk is tested for quality then it directly goes to their Bulk Milk Cooler. In a couple of hours, the milk is chilled and the freshness and quality of milk remain intact.
Milk market in India is divided into an organized and unorganized market where around 65 per cent - 70 per cent markets are unorganized and rest about 25 per cent - 30 per cent market is organized. However, due to more urbanization, increased awareness and consumer consciousness towards the quality of products, consumers now are highly concerned about what they are actually eating and drinking. This is the reason for the growth of the organised sector in the dairy industry and it is expected that more and more consumers will shift to the safe packaged products. Hopefully, there will be a day when India will remain at the top of charts for milk production and consumption and at the same time, quality will be a synonym for Indian milk.