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Gowardhan riding high with dairy products Monday, July 02, 2012

By Sambuddha Sengupta Gowardhan is considered to be one of Indias largest private dairies. The company boasts of owning the largest cow farm in India. It is also the owner of Asias largest cheese plant. The products of the company are well-known for their quality and flavour. In order to meet the demands of the world market, Gowardhan puts special focus on taste, nutrition, health, craftsmanship and sheer indulgence. In an interview with Bizxchange, Devendra Shah, chairman of Parag Milk Foods Pvt Ltd, widely known as Gowardhan and Go Cheese, speaks about the companys journey to prominence, the challenges and future expansion plans.

Edited excerpts from the interview:

Take us through the growth story of your company. Parag Milk Foods Pvt Ltd is the parent company and Gowardhan, Go, and Pride of Cows are the brands under this name. Gowardhan stands for traditional products like ghee, dahi, milk powder and the like. Go basically stands for the most global market and urban market. It covers products like yogurt and cheese. Pride of Cows is the premium milk brand and follows under the unique category called Farm to home. Over the years, our turnover has increased from Rs 80 crore annually to Rs 1000 crore in 2011-12. Presently, we have Indias largest cheese plant in Manchar and capacity of the plant is 40 million tonne per day. For milking, Gowardhan has its own cow farm called Bhagyalaxmi.

How difficult was it to curve your niche in the dairy market? Though the dairy market over the decades has been ruled by players like Amul and Britannia, they never focussed on educating the consumer on the various categories of cheese. The available options were only processed and sliced. Our thinking is different. We wish to educate the consumer on having the right cheese in the right product. In the last 2 years we have reinvented the category and offered our consumers products which they have seen for the first time in India. Today's consumers are experimental and want to try new products and services and this is where we come in. We launched India's first shredded cheese, India's first natural flavoured yogurt and Indias first cheese in tube format. Hence, consumers perceive us to be a leader as far as innovation is concerned and this is where the edge is. Share with us your prospects and plans for the international market? We have already started our distribution in the overseas markets. We are exporting our products like cheese and ghee to the US, Middle East, Africa, South East Asia. Exports are going to be a big slice of overall turnovers in the years to come. Today Indians are everywhere. However, no matter where they are, they still love Indian food and food products and this is where we come in. In some countries we have also seen locals preferring our cheese over what is available on shelf, which encourages us to introduce many other product offerings in the near future. How do you think food processing can help solve Indias food shortage issues? In India, almost 35-40% food gets wasted every year because of non-processing. So food processing is of great help to solve the food shortage issue. What are the biggest challenges that processed food retailing segment needs to overcome? There is lack of consumer education about the nutrition level in processed foods. Besides, there is low price elasticity for processed food products and a need for distribution network and cold chain. Also, there is necessity of backward-forward integration from farm to consumer, development of marketing channels and linkages between industry, government and infrastructure. Moreover, taxation in India has to be in line with other nations and food laws need to be streamlined.

What are the future plans of Gowardhan? There is tremendous potential for our products in both domestic and international markets and in the next one year we will look at creating the infrastructure for our products on a pan-India level and reach out to newer markets and consumers. There are many products in pipeline like twothree variants in cheese category and milk. All this will collectively help to improve our market share. What would be your key suggestions to budding entrepreneurs? New entrepreneurs must always be in start-up mode. They should ideally be around dynamic and forward looking people who share similar vision. An entrepreneur must have the ability to read the under-current of the organisation and its environment. He/she must understand cash flows and always keep a close eye on them. Also, it is important to be aggressive in business, but with a human touch.