French dairy giant Lactalis launches immunity boosting milk in India to meet Covid-led demand

November 13, 2020

Smita Balram | ET Bureau

BENGALURU — French dairy giant Lactalis has launched flagship milk brand Lactel UHT toned milk under its Indian arm to compete with rivals Amul and Nestle A plus in the tetra pack milk segment in the country.

Rahul Kumar, managing director of Lactalis India, said, “Consumers want safe ready-to-drink milk amid the pandemic. India is the fastest growing dairy market registering 5-6% growth and the category is growing at 15%. This was the right time to launch the product.”

Positioned as antibiotic free milk with immunity-boosting vitamins A and D, Lactel UHT milk will be produced at the company’s Telangana plant for south and east distribution and Maharashtra factory for distribution in the north. The product will be retailed on marketplaces, modern and general trade.

“The total market size of the milk segment in India is 8 lakh litres per day. We want to acquire 5% share in this segment in the next two years. We will produce about 40,000 litres per volume per day and acquire new geographies,” said Kumar.

Lactalis India launched operations in the country in 2014 when it acquired dairy brand Tirumala Milk Products followed by Indore-based Anik Industries in 2016 and Maharashtra-based brand Prabhat Dairy in 2018.

According to the company, the total dairy business of India is estimated at USD 80 billion with only half of it making it to the organised market. Products such as ghee, butter and lassi are a USD 10 billion market in India. The company said the next fiscal is going to be active for the brand with launches and acquisitions.

“We want to customise products to suit India’s consumption requirements. We will launch more fresh milk variants such as easy-to-digest milk and milk for Indian women. Fermented products such as curd, butter and lassi will be added over the next few months,” said Kumar, adding, “We will acquire more dairy brands in the northern part of the country as the market progressively reopens amid the pandemic.”

Lactalis India is looking to invest about Rs 120 crore per year to enhance technical knowhow and back-end labour of the dairy industry. While it estimates a turnover of Rs 3500 crore this fiscal in India, the company is targeting Rs 4,500 crore turnover in 2021-22.

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