This mom’s quest for pure milk led her to launch a profitable dairy startup

In 2015, based in Pune At Rupali Kakade four-year-old daughter often fell seriously ill with a stomach infection. After repeated visits to the pediatrician, the doctor suggested removing milk from her diet to see if it made a difference. To Rupali’s surprise, the child had stopped getting sick, but the concerned mother worried about the type of milk her daughter was consuming.

“The constant worry led me to research different types of milk available in the market and their source. Once my daughter was fine and the doctor gave us the green light to start drinking milk again, I simply couldn’t trust any brand available on the market,” Rupali says. His history.

Milk adulteration in India is more widespread than one would like to believe. Almost 79% of branded or bulk milk available in the market is adulterated, according to an alarming report by the Consumer Guidance Society of India (CGSI). Raids by food safety authorities have shown that milk is most often adulterated with urea, starch, detergent, caustic soda, formalin, glucose and water. Although the Supreme Court and the central government have called for harsh penalties for the culprits, milk adulteration continues to be the norm rather than an exception.

Unreliable about the quality of milk available on the market, Rupali decided to find a solution herself. With a little help from the agrarian background of his in-laws and his own father, who was a dairy farmer, Rupali found a solution.

“My in-laws are into agriculture and they have a lot of farmland in Junnar, about 100 km from Pune. There we bought 13 cows from our farm and started researching not only milk, but also other milk by-products,” she adds.

Before they knew it, the cows on their farm were producing enough milk to distribute to their friends and family. “We realized there was a huge demand for pure milk and we knew it could become a viable business model,” Rupali remarks. In 2018, she founded Gaucogram Agrovikas Producer Co Ltdwhich was later renamed Really Desi.

Really Desi Store in Balewadi, Pune

Startup

Rupali roped himself first Mohit Rathod, a startup consultant, to help with strategy and other aspects of the new venture. However, Mohit was so convinced of Truly Desi’s potential that he joined the company as a co-founder in 2018.

The two co-founders donated a total of Rs 25 million of their personal savings to start the business, and the business continues to be seeded.

Truly Desi started delivering fresh milk in packs in January 2019. “Initially, we only produced around 30 to 40 liters of milk per day, but by the end of the year it was around 250 to 300 litres,” says Rupali, whose farm is now home to almost 100 cows. The startup relies on 300 to 350 additional cows from a network of connected farms.

The production unit of Truly Desi is in Balewadi, near Pune, and Rupali has outsourced milk pasteurization to another nearby unit. “At Balewadi, we pack our milk and process other by-products like paneer and Bilona ghee, which are made using a traditional method,” adds the founder and managing director of Truly Desi. The company has 12 employees in the production unit, and about ten on the farm.

Rupali says the brand is now famous for its kulhad dahi, curd in a mud pot. Along with this, Truly Desi sells its milk and paneer across Pune through premium outlets like Dorabjee’s, Nature’s Basket, Fine Foods, etc. His ghee Bilona is also available on e-commerce sites like Amazon, Flipkart, etc. store in Balewadi, Pune.

What started as a simple dairy farm, Truly Desi is now working to achieve sustainability and zero waste goals. Rupali says the startup has bonded with more than 15,000 certified organic farmers all over Maharashtra to stock up on groceries including grains, vegetables and fruits.

“We provide organic farmers with cow dung and cow urine as organic fertilizer, in addition to encouraging them to stick to their organic farming practices even when it doesn’t seem easy,” says Rupali. The company buys vegetables from the farms where it provides organic fertilizer. At the farm, the team also installed a biogas unit for cooking and heating water. The slurry from the unit is reused as organic fertilizer.

For Rupali, traceability is an important factor. “We allow our customers to see the whole process in our manufacturing facility; transparency is very important to us,” she notes, referring to her previous experience of buying milk from the market without knowing the exact source. Currently, the company is working on upgrading the technology to include a scanning code on every product, including its fruits and vegetables, so customers can trace its origin.

Co-founders, Truly Desi

Truly Desi Co-Founders – Rupali Kakade and Mohit Rathod

Revenue and next steps

In the first year, Rupali claims the startup won Rs 5.89 lakh in income. Its revenue for the 2022 financial year was 2.85 million rupees, which the founder attributes to the huge growth the company experienced during the pandemic, when people were more concerned about consuming healthy foods. The brand aims to close at Rs 5 billion this exercise.

According to a report by Research and Markets, the Indian dairy market reached a value of $144.55 billion in 2020. The report states that the growth was driven by the heavy use of dairy products in Indian cuisines, and hence the market is expected to grow further at a CAGR of 6% between 2021 and 2026.

Truly Desi is introducing more products. “We offer A2 ice cream, with the option of low calorie A2 sugar free ice cream as well. Sugar-free shrikhand in different flavors is also in sight. A bunch of superfoods are also being researched.

“We also focus on millets and work with around 250 Akole tribal women in Maharashtra as they produce all types of millets in the region. They grow about 10 to 15 varieties of rice,” Rupali explains.

Over the next six months, Rupali and Mohit aim to strengthen the company’s backend processes by integrating more with technology. “We want to give production franchises to farmers in different places. From my point of view, as we grow we cannot just source products from one place like Pune, it will defeat the purpose of keeping our products fresh,” says Rupali.

About Lolita Plowman

Check Also

Can food crops grow in the dark? Scientists are working on how.

Science fiction stories have imagined future people living in underground cities on Mars, in hollowed-out …