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When India Had 'Milk Holidays': The Fascinating Journey Of Parag Milk Foods In the current scenario, a tetra pack is just a click away, and one organization that played a major role in this transformation over time is Parag Milk Foods.

By Kabir Singh Bhandari

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Photo by Mehrshad Rajabi on Unsplash

Today's Instagram generation would not know how it was a daily practice to see the milk man pouring milk from his big, steel container for us every morning. In the current scenario, a tetra pack is just a click away, and one organization that played a major role in this transformation over time is Parag Milk Foods.

But how did this change come about?

Akshali Shah, Executive Director, Parag Milk Foods, was part of a panel discussion at Viraasat, the marquee event of SPJIMR's Centre for Family Business and Entrepreneurship (CFBE), and spoke about how her company changed the scene for milk distribution in India. Parag Milk Foods Ltd, founded in 1992 by her father Devendra Shah, is one of India's top private sector dairy companies, with a portfolio in over 15 consumer centric product categories. Their infrastructure includes dairy farms set on global standards, a modern fully automated cheese plant and an UHT milk processing plant.

"In 1991 when privatization took place and there was the opportunity for milk to be collected by private companies, we saw an opportunity. Till then, the government used to not take milk on certain days, so they would literally declare it as a milk holiday and not take milk from the farmer. So that's when my dad saw the opportunity and we finally started collecting milk from the farmer, as even their business had been affected," Shah said in her opening statement.

When they started off in the 90s, the company were collecting 20,000 litres of milk. Now, they're processing around 25,00,000 litres. The question then came of how could they enter the market for value added products, which they kicked off by converting the milk into powders.

Then came the export ban.

This is when Parag ventured into consumer businesses such as Gowardhan Ghee, gulab jamun mix and butter. At a time when India was consuming 4 metric tonnes of cheese they made expansion plans to more than 20 metric tonnes, an ambitious feat as it was way more than the consumption levels at that time. The reason for this step was because her father believed that after chocolates, the next big thing in India was going to be cheese. They are also the sole manufacturers of whey protein. "It's been an amazing journey from just collecting milk to converting it into powders and getting into the consumer products market," Shah concluded during her talk. Talking about their brands, they include Gowardhan, Go, Topp Up & Pride of Cows, and Parag is located in the milk belts at Manchar, Maharashtra and Palamner, Andhra Pradesh.

Viraasat saw some interesting panel discussions which shed light on the evolution of businesses in India over the years. The occasion was the 25th anniversary of SPJIMR's foray into family entrepreneurship with Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Road, Transport and Highways, Government of India, as their chief guest.

Shah (FMB 15) was speaking during the Plenary Session of FMB Trailblazers, during the event which included several other panels along with a felicitation ceremony for 50 business mentors with their guests of honour including Anant Singhania, CEO, JK Enterprises, and Deepak Parekh, Chairman HDFC.

The author can be reached at bkabir@entrepreneurindia.com and Instagram.com/kabirsinghbhandari

Kabir Singh Bhandari

Former Senior Assistant Editor

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