The milk industry is one of the most important sectors that contributes immensely to the Indian economy. Especially in the rural landscape, it is an economic boon that achieves food security, generates employment for women and provides farmers with a regular source of income and employment opportunities. Annually, 8.4 million farmers depend on the dairy sector for their livelihoods, out of which 71 per cent are women. Despite the overall importance of the milk industry in India, there are still serious problems with the actual product itself.
According to a study conducted by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) 37.7% of the sample processed milk, including major brands, did not comply with quality parameters. In case of raw milk, non-compliance was even at higher rate at 47%. The samples contained high levels of contaminants such as fats, antibiotics, pesticides. For households across India, this poses a severe crisis as it leads them to wonder who they can trust to make good on the promise of delivering fresh, organic and unprocessed milk. Fortunately, one start-up has risen to the occasion in meeting this consumer demand. This start-up is none other than Country Delight.
Country Delight is a direct-to-consumer milk start-up that delivers natural, fresh, unadulterated milk from the farm directly to the doorstep of consumers. It was founded by IIM Indore graduates Chakradhar Gadhe and Nitin Kaushal in 2015, who wanted to redefine the Indian liquid milk market by bringing back the basics of milk and applying the latest food innovations and scientific practices. They were intent on building a customer focused large brand that would convert the advertised, hollow promise of natural, organic milk into a reality. They have raised $25 million in a Series C round led by Elevation Capital. In addition, existing backers such as Matrix Partners India and Orios Venture Partners also contributed fresh funding earlier this year. In total, they have raised a funding of $44.2 million over 9 rounds. According to VVCEdge, the research division of Mosaic Digital, their net sales tripled to more than 65 crores.
Currently the start-up offers a wide variety of milk and milk-based products such as buffalo milk, low fat cow milk, ghar jaisa dahi, taaza paneer, desi danedar ghee and also preservative-free bread and desi tan eggs. Fresh milk is procured from a mix of different cow breeds such as Desi Sahiwal and cross-breed Holstein & Jersey. It has also leveraged the power of mobile application to provide customers with a smooth, hassle-free shopping experience. The app provides users with both pre-paid and post-paid subscription plans and also the flexibility to schedule orders, even if it is only for one day. However, there is a standard billing cycle of every two weeks. Deliveries are made every morning from 5:30AM to 7:30 PM directly to customers free of charge.
The Science of Milk
However what makes Country Delight truly unique is that it prioritises fresh, organic milk using a bedrock of scientific tests. They use 70 stringent tests to check for impurities and toxins and then deliver the milk within 24-48 hours of milking. Furthermore, they even go the extra mile by offering customers a milk test kit. The kit, consists of several colour-changing strips which can identify whether the milk is mixed with urea, starch, detergent and its microbial quality.
The most difficult challenge which Country Delight faced during the initial years was the issue of managing deliveries. In order to cope up with the constantly evolving government policies, officials at Country Delight had to alter delivery timings and communicate talks with relevant stakeholders. Eventually, they were successful in arranging the necessary permissions and documents for their delivery partners, transport vehicles and suppliers.
Covid-19 Crisis Management
Although the Covid-19 pandemic left most businesses in a state of chaos and helplessness, Country Delight remained resilient and powered through the economic crisis. Due to their full control over the supply chain, they were able to deliver their products at a 96% success rate even during the worst of times. During this time, they regularly communicated with all their stakeholders, checked on the health of their delivery partners and customers and also sent updates to customers regarding their deliveries.
Gadhe and Kaushal have set extraordinary goals for the future of their start-up. They plan to deliver the entire range of countryside food essentials to the doorstep of every customer with the same focus of keeping the products fresh, organic and minimum processing. A few of these products that would be included under the brand of Country Delight are fruits, vegetables and cold-pressed oils. In addition, the company is also in talks to buy its competitor Milkbasket which recently raised a small funding from Inflection Point Ventures. They are indeed going beyond the boundaries of the industry to make their ambitions a reality.