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LaVeda vs popular milk brands vs local milkman


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Few reasons for LaVeda cow’s milk


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Should we (humans) drink milk?


Yesterday, a friend argued that we, humans, should not drink Cow’s (or for that matter milk from any animal) milk. Her logic was that if humans needed milk beyond an age (say a year or two) then nature would have given human females ability to produce milk as they do after giving birth.

A point that I had never come across before!¬†It made me think, should we drink milk and in my case LaVeda Cow’s milk?

A sleepless night then it hit me. If we take her argument to the extreme i.e., eat/drink only what is readily provided by the nature. We should be able to take it without any special tools like a knife and consume without any alterations like cooking. If that is the case then just about anything except few fruits and vegetables should not be consumed. After all, that is what is naturally given to us. I am sure this would be just fine and some one must have come up with a diet plan by now.

However, restricting our diet to this level based on the logic of eating/drinking what is naturally available is beyond comprehension to me. And frankly speaking extreme. So, without any moral guilt I can safely say that “Yes, we should drink milk.”


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Milking at LaVeda dairy farms


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LaVeda starts daily milk delivery in West Delhi


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Milk collection and dairy farming in India


India is probably one of the few, if not the only, country which has the tradition of collecting milk from a large number of small dairy farmers from rural parts. The collected milk from various collection points or centers is transported in tankers to the centralized processing centers for converting to various products such as toned, double toned, full cream etc. milk.

So, what is wrong with this picture? The proponents may ask. Their arguments are typically based on rural employment, scalability and cost efficiency. This in many instances are a valid argument. However, a deeper dive into this industry brings another often hidden facet.

Issues to ponder over:

  • Payouts to rural small scale (2-3 cows or buffaloes) dairy farmers are typically Rs. 21 to 24 per lit. This is around 35-45% of the retail price of approximately Rs. 50 to 52 per lit. The low payouts to the dairy farmers does not leave any profit margin for them to provide better feed or medical services or improve cattle breed. It remains just a side income for majority of the farmers.
  • India has a huge milk quality challenge. A large fraction¬†of nation’s milk supply is contaminated or below standard. This is a recurring theme year over year. People in the heat of the moment tend to blame just about anyone and everyone across the whole value chain. Mistakes of the few gets amplified to all.

I tend to believe that real culprit may be the structure of the dairy industry in India. Millions of producers with thousand of collection centers increases the potential touch point for contamination. Even a small inadvertent mistake is amplified given the nature of the product. Couple that with the non-refrigerated milk transportation and the problem further magnifies.

  • Industry practice of focusing on fat percentage is too narrow a bench mark of quality. Many of the other important metric such as somatic cell count is not even a consideration. Mixing of milk from various animals such as cows and buffaloes is not even considered an issue. Given that milk is a primary source of nutrition (especially protein) for many children, the narrow focus on fat percentage does not help.

Present structure of dairy industry in India was created by the visionary Sardar Patel over 100 years ago. We needed to produce milk for the masses. It was the need of the moment. India, today, stands at a very different spot on economics, demographics and social spectrum. The time has come to take a deeper look into the structure of this important industry.