“Today in India, milk remains the most adulterated of all food items”
“Hetha organics, a start-up founded by an IT professional in Delhi-NCR region to supply unadulterated and unprocessed organic desi-cow milk to its proud customers, has recently earned its MSME certification from the government of UP. There was no looking back since inception for this health-conscious venture. In a candid discussion with Aseem Singh Rawat – Founder & CEO – Hetha Organics LLP, we take you through his journey to understand various aspects of this tricky business segment. Excerpts:
Q.1 Your experience and background suggests a totally different niche than you are currently endeavoring? From where did you get the inspiration to start Hetha Organics?
I am a Software Engineer by profession and have around 14 years of work experience. The work took me around the globe and I got to rub shoulders with very smart and intelligent individuals. The journey from a job seeker to that of a job provider is indeed a long one. Around four years back, I was watching a TV debate show on cows and appalled to see the poor state of our indigenous/ desi breed of cows. A panel was propagating cow slaughter and the other was suggesting the usefulness of desi Indian cows. While the former had many commercial dairies to quote, the later had only suggestions as no successful organization on Indian cows was running without donations.
That moment I decided that it would be worth investing my remaining years to build an organization which
- would highlight the goodness of Indian cows.
- provide organic raw desi cow milk and Panchgavya products to customers.
- would not seek donations and be self sustaining.
-would not send old cows and bulls to slaughter houses but would provide them with a livelihood.
And thus was born "Hetha!"
Q.2 Milk is a perishable item and traditional suppliers in the market follow standard processing to increase its shelf life? How organic processing, packaging and transportation of milk are different from?
When we pasteurize and homogenize milk, we convert it into a liquid which cannot be termed as milk. Pasteurization kills both good and bad bacteria which cannot be filtered and those drinking pasteurized milk have to consume these dead bacteria too and this can lead to Lactose intolerance as the body fails to accept these freebies. Pasteurization also denatures the milk protein. Raw milk is best as it retains all the goodness of milk. Raw milk will stay good for five hours on a normal day. Chillers should be used to keep the milk temperature below 4 degree Celsius to enhance its shelf life and one need to ensure proper cold chain and storage. On supply end too, we don’t use plastic pouches like regular dairies; instead, we deliver milk in sealed glass bottles. Apart from saving the production cost and environmental pollution, this also prevents mixing of plastic particulate matter into the milk, adding more value to milk’s organic character.
Q.3 Don’t you think price could be a limiting factor to expand your customer base or making the canvas bigger i.e from MSME to a big size company?
Producing pure organic desi cow milk is expensive including price of fodder, storage, packing, delivery, backend office adds to the overall cost. A glass of pure desi cow milk is complete food and will help an individual to stay healthy and disease free. It’s worth an investment and our customers understand this fact very well. Those who are using our products do not go back to regular milk brands, even if it is from normal dairies, because they lacks in organic feed for the cattle, desi cows and mostly buffalo milk is available there. What I have found is that educating people is tougher. Once they know why desi cow milk should be consumed, price does not remain a factor anymore.
Q.4 ‘Organic Feed & Desi Breed’ is your mantra to check the adulteration right from the beginning. How challenging this task is, as it requires quite stringent monitoring on each check point?
Today in India, milk remains the most adulterated of all food items. As per a recent report released by Delhi’s food safety department, out of 2,880 freshly prepared and packaged food samples 477 failed quality tests conducted from January 2018 and Aril 2019. According to a national study conducted by FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India), 161 samples failed the safety tests, of which out of which 15 were found unsafe; 21 were misbranded and 125 were of substandard quality. These results holds true after FSSAI reduced the SF (Solid Fat) and SNF (Solid Not Fat) specification in milk in 2017. Think the situation as per old standards. Hetha manages its own cow herd which is 700 strong as I type and this allows us greater control over quality. Procuring milk is a challenge as it’s very difficult to monitor quality of milk in this scenario.
Q.5 In recent past there are many start-ups mushrooming in milk-supply business apart from the legendry players like Amul, Mother Dairy etc. How the competition is unfolding as you grow and where do you strive to go from here?
The big players do not own a single cow and that might surprise many. Dairies only procure milk, process it and then market it to consumers. Most of this is A1 type milk. Hetha manages its own herd which includes cows, bulls and heifers. We thus are able to offer much better quality when compared to commercial dairies. People are intelligent and are willing to spend on quality over quantity.
Q.6 Kindly share some facts about organic and regular milk supply in India/NCR.
This is a difficult one. When we started four years ago, we hardly had anyone in the organic desi cow milk space apart from Hetha. Now we have hundreds of vendors and I think it’s good in a way as it keeps everyone grounded and whoever is able to provide consistent high quality products with good service would stay ahead. The regular milk packet industry has many challenges ahead. They are the biggest buyers and sellers of A1 type milk and as we know now A1 type milk is a major cause of Autism and type1 Diabetes. They will need to decide quality over quantity but then from where will they get so many Indigenous cows now?