With the honey scandal shining a bright light on ‘purity’, is milk the next segment to feel the heat?
Adulteration took centre stage recently after an investigation from Centre of Science and Investigation (CSE), a Delhi-based public interest research and advocacy organisation, revealed that India’s top honey brands such as Dabur, Patanjali and Emami had a failed a key purity test. The investigation found sugar syrups being used as part of the adulteration process.
Netizens expressed their worries. The honey they were consuming, keeping its health benefits in mind, was, in fact, more sugar. It posed a risk to their health and wellness, an alarming thought in the COVID era.
While the brands that failed the test have refuted the claims, they face a challenge, i.e., reassuring concerned customers about the purity of their honey offerings.
This whole issue got us (afaqs!) thinking on how the honey scandal, or ‘Honeygate’ as some social media enthusiasts put it, has made ‘purity’ the new USP for the food and beverage (F&B) segment.
We feel the milk segment is where the honey scandal will spill over because, in India, there is always the perception that milk, branded or not, is adulterated in some form or the other.
The question on the purity of milk is not new but as old as the practice of milk from large aluminium cans that came home on the cycle said Vani Gupta Dandia, founder of executive consultancy firm, CherryPeachPlum Growth Partners.
One bought milk on trust and brand name and that’s why “we don't believe an Amul or a Mother Dairy will ever cheat."
In what seems like a coincidence, we came across an ad from Country Delight, a Gurugram-based milk delivery app, promoting not only its milk offerings, but also its testing kit (you get one with your first order). It lets you check the purity of its milk.
We may not think the same (cheating) for lesser-known brands said Dandia and this is why “new brands stress so much on purity, going to the extent of providing proof kits or making superlative claims like delivered to your doorstep within 8 hours of milking to prevent bacteria growth.”
Meanwhile, in an Economic Times report on September 5, 2018, Mohan Singh Ahluwalia, a member of the Animal Welfare Board of India, said that around 68.7 per cent of milk and milk products sold in the country are not as per the standards laid down by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), India’s food regulator.
It is then no wonder that Country Delight has touted the self-test kit as one of its key USPs. The above Instagram post from March 2020 gives a better look at the kit. Also, the FAQ section on Country Delight’s website gives a detailed explanation of how to use the kit.
The brand, apart from milk, sells ghee, white eggs, curd and paneer. Its delivery areas include NCR, Mumbai, Pune, Jaipur and Bengaluru.
Another dairy brand that focuses on quality milk is Gurugram-based NutriMoo. Its website says, “Our foremost mission is to provide good wholesome milk with regulatory milk practises to ensure the safest and purest products reach your table.” It sells cow milk, buffalo milk, slim milk, and other products such as curd, ghee, honey, paneer and cheese.
NutriMoo states that it delivers milk within 48 hours of milking. It conducts 78 benchmark tests and has a ‘superfast’ cold chain because “we are crazy about purity and freshness”. Also, when the milk is delivered from the farm to your home, it is consistently below 4 degrees Celsius.
“Purity or real efficacy has come into greater scrutiny in Coronavirus times as the decibel levels on immunity and health benefits have radically gone up,” said Dandia.
With the Coronavirus pandemic shining a sharp light on purity and quality of food products, we see the F&B segment now has to take a step forward to reassure the customers that its offerings are pure, healthy and safe.
If anything, “Coronavirus will force brands to prove efficacy and provide trust markers like never before,” said Dandia and went on to say that consumers are going back to the established big brands they’ve trusted for years which is why they will survive the controversies but new brands will have to work harder to gain trust.