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Poster Paper: Traditional Milk Products
from India







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Poster paper: Traditional milk products from India

P.R. GUPTA, Editor & Publisher, Dairy India Yearbook & Technology of Indian Milk Products (In Print), India

Milk occupies an exalted position in India. Its roots go back to some 6,000 years when milch animals were domesticated. Simple processes were developed to preserve milk’s nutritive goodness as a means to protect and promote health. In their search for ways to prevent milk spoilage and find uses for surplus milk, a number of products were developed. They were curds (yoghurt-like fermented product), makkhan (butter), khoa (desiccated milk product), chhana and paneer (soft cottage cheese-like cultured product) and ghee (clarified butter).  A wide range of sweets was produced for consumption on festive occasions.  They included rasogolla, sandesh, burfi, peda, shrikhand, gulabjamun, lassi, misti doi and kheer (rice pudding), combining delicious  taste and flavour with fitness and health. These ethnic products constitute the world of traditional dairy products.  The milk handling practices, as developed in the olden times, from producer to consumer were based on simple approach and science and were handed down from generation to generation to serve home, smallholders and trade. They are low-cost, appropriate and sustainable.




(a) Milk and its products are consumed fresh and therefore the centres of milk production and consumption are close by. So, the need for expensive refrigerated storage and distribution is not necessary. This insistence on freshness in food has become something of an obsession in the Indian mind and is now an ingrained consumer mind set that is not easily grasped by an outsider. 
(b) The shelf life of raw milk is enhanced by taking recourse to boiling, a simple way of sterilisation. Thus, its souring or spoilage is extended for a few hours—enough to consume the quantity on hand. Traditionally, the urban consumer buys milk twice a day. Any surplus milk in homes is fermented into curd, an essential item of the Indian meal. At the farm level or in trade, the unsold surplus milk is made into khoa, channa, paneer and ghee. 

Traditional products account for over 90 per cent of all dairy products consumed in the country. The organised dairy sector in India, however, focuses on the Western dairy products like milk powder, butter, cheese and ice cream for its product mix. One exception is ghee. Further, it only handles about 10-12 per cent of the total milk produced in the country. To strengthen its viability and increase its share, it must widen its product base. This can best be achieved by going in for traditional milk products for which the technology is available. Their production has the potential of becoming a major profit centre for the organised dairy sector. 

The process modernisation for making traditional dairy products has taken impressive strides. However, there  is no need to reinvent the wheel because some of the food processing methods available in the West can be usefully adapted to mass production of  traditional products. Some process modifications may, however, become necessary. 

In recent years, some outstanding innovations have been made at the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) and the National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI) for the assembly-line production of burfi, dahi, kheer, shrikhand, gulabjamun, rasogolla, mishti doi and the like, by adapting the modern tools and technology. 

An admirable example of Western technology  adaptation is the manufacture of shrikhand on a large scale, using basket centrifuges, quarg separators and planetary mixers, used by bakeries. Today, the volume of shrikhand manufactured by the organised sector exceeds that of processed cheese sold in India. 

The manufacture of khoa, using roller driers and scraped surface heat exchangers, is another instance of the use of the modern technology. UF/RO technologies can also be used for chhana making and concentration of milk for many indigenous dairy products. The use of meat ball forming machines and potato fryers for manufacturing gulabjamuns on a large scale is a good example of integrating the traditional with the modern. 

Packaging of these products can also follow a similar approach. In Italy, Mozzarella cheese balls are being packed in whey in consumer packs. This can be tried to market rasogollas and gulabjamuns. Chocolate and candy packaging lines can be used to pack burfi and peda. Tetrapaks can be used to pack lassi, basundi, kheer and sevian. Japanese Tofu resembles paneer that can be packaged similarly. 

Modernization of this sector will also result in energy savings. While manufacturing sweets in traditional ways, much heat energy goes waste which can possibly be recovered in a modern plant. Evaporation of milk in a karahi (resembling the Chinese wok) consumes five times more energy than vacuum evaporators. 

Large-scale manufacture of these products will also open the way for trying out newer ingredients. The processed food industry in the United States has emerged as the largest user of corn syrup solids and high fructose corn syrup. These sweeteners add to the moisture retention properties of many foods, apart from adjusting the sweetness to a desired level. The technology of recombining milk constituents can also help in making many traditional products such as khoa and chhana. These exciting possibilities can be explored to the advantage of the processors and consumers. 

Manufacture of khoa and chhana as powder is another way of using Western technology to make indigenous products. How far these modifications will be accepted will ultimately be decided by the consumer. The advent of convenience foods and their increased acceptability will further support the modernisation of this sector. 

India’s most modern plant for traditional dairy products is that of the Baroda District Cooperative Milk Producers Union Ltd (Sugam Dairy) at Vadodara in Gujarat. It markets its products through a large network of hundreds of retail outlets in the city. The Sugam Dairy uses the traditional grocery/general stores that have a refrigerator to market its products. The product range includes shrikhand, gulabjamuns, pedas and curds, apart from flavoured milks. The dairy has the highest turnover of a single unit, marketing traditional dairy products. 

The Mother Dairy in Calcutta markets mishti doi in a similar fashion.  Dairies in Punjab and Haryana market lassi, paneer and kalakand (also, lately, milk cake). Cooperative dairies in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka also sell makkhan, khoa, peda and  kulfi. Gokul, Mahanand and Warana dairies in Maharashtra are also marketing shrikhand through their sales outlets. 

The major strength of the traditional dairy product sector is the mass appeal it enjoys. Not only does its market far exceed that for Western dairy products, but its operating margins are also much higher. The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has worked out standard specifications for the quality of khoa, shrikhand, burfi, rasogollas and gulabjamuns, and those for other products are being worked out. The increasing demand for traditional products presents a great opportunity for the organised dairy sector in India to strengthen its base and take a larger share of the expanding milk production which is expected to cross 100 million-tonne level by 2005. 

Reading List: 

  1. IDF Workshop on Small Scale Dairy Processing & Indigenous Milk Products, Proceedings, December 4-6, 1997. 
  2. The Technology of Traditional Milk Products in Developing Countries, FAO Animal Production & Health, Paper No 85, 1990. 
  3. Smallholder Dairying in the Tropics, International Livestock Research Institute, 1999. 
  4. Advances in Traditional Dairy Products, Centre of Advanced Studies in Dairy Technology, National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal, Page 167, 1997.
  5. A Historical Dictionary of Indian Food by Dr K T Achaya,  1998. 
  6. Outlines of Dairy Technology by Sukumar De, 1980. 
  7. Milk & Milk Products by Harbans Singh, March 1968 
  8. “Traditional Milk Specialities: A Compendium”, Dairy India 1997, pp 369-392. 
  9. Dairy India 1997, 5th Ed. A mini-encyclopaedia on the Indian dairy industry (pages: 910 + xviii) covering production, processing, distribution, marketing, research and development. A multi-disciplinary volume, it serves as a suppliers of products & services; a Who’s Who. Over 7,000 organizations and specialists are listed. 
  10. “Technology of Indian Milk Products” by Dr R P Aneja,  Mr A K Banerjee, Dr R C Chandan, Dr B N Mathur, Dr L K Vaswani (In Print).


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