For years, the dairy industry was focused only on cow and buffalo milk and milk-based products. Rising internet penetration and increasing consumer awareness have, however, upended this long-standing norm. Today, consumers are increasingly inclined towards better, healthier alternatives such as camel milk, goat milk or donkey milk. To cater the need Aadvik Foods began its operations in camel milk space. In an exclusive conversation, Shrey Kumar, Co-founder, Aadvik Foods talks about his startup venture.
Tell us about Aadvik Foods. What inspires you to launch this brand? Also talk about your initial challenges and how did you overcome those?
Aadvik Foods is India’s 1st camel milk brand founded in 2016 by Hitesh Rathi. Post 5-6 months of inception, Shrey Kumar joined the company as a Co-founder. As a disruptor in the Indian camel milk industry, Aadvik foods have a bouquet of camel milk-based products including camel milk powder, chocolates, and skincare range. Having spent years in their respective jobs, Hitesh Rathi and Shrey Kumar decided to explore the organic food market and bridge the gap within the farm to table model.
Today, it is procuring around 10,000 litres a month, having sold over 2 lakh litres over the last three-and-half years. At the plant, they have incorporated new technologies like the ‘freeze-drying’ process to manufacture milk powder without compromising its quality, taste, flavour, mineral, and nutrient contents.
One of the biggest challenges for the brand was and still is to create awareness about the benefits of camel milk. Maintaining the quality because of low shelf life also required a lot of R & D and cold chain logistics.
Hitesh Rathi who hails from Rajasthan did an extensive research and found that camel milk has several medicinal and health benefits which help the autistic, the diabetic and those suffering from lactose intolerance. Also, the population of camels has been on a decline for the past many decades because camel herders did not have any source of income, that’s when he realised that there could be a market out there, although it was largely untapped at the time.
Indian dairy market is largely driven by cow/ buffalo milk in total FMCG pie. What kind of market do you estimate for camel milk? Also tell us about your market strategies?
Although the camel milk market is at a nascent stage, it is expanding fast due to increasing awareness on the benefits of camel milk. Alternate milk like that of goat and camel is expected to increase to 5 percent of the total dairy consumption in India.
The value of the dairy market in India touched Rs 9.16 lakh crore in 2018 and is expected to more than double to Rs 18.6 lakh crore by 2023.
The camel dairy market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 8.01 percent during 2019-2024 reaching levels worth more than US$ 8 billion by 2024.
Aadvik foods focus on creating awareness about the benefits of consuming camel milk and will keep this strategy in the future as well.
What is your current distribution including markets. Going forward, what are the plans to scale-up the distribution? Which new markets you are planning to enter in next six months?
We are present in Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Chennai through direct home deliveries and also in select retail outlets. All our products are available online also through our website and other e-commerce portals such as Flipkart and amazon. We will keep promoting our products through offline channels in the future also.
Going forward, would be adding more products in your product portfolio?
We are looking to diversify our product portfolio to other than camel milk-based products, for instance, we have already launched goat milk and goat milk based products in the market.
Have you raised any funds so far or plan to?
We are bootstrapped. We will keep expanding through our own resources in the near future.
What are the major operational challenges of your business?
Creating awareness has been the biggest challenge always for camel milk and camel milk products. Logistics has been a problem because of the low shelf life of the product. High pricing, a dwindling camel population and awareness among camel herders around the commercialization are among the major challenges we constantly face. The farmers have to be trained in animal hygiene and consistency in milk supply because of the scattered supply in the remote areas of desert states of the country.
At last, kindly highlight your growth plans?
We intend to increase our sales to more than double of what we are doing at present in the next 2 years. Also, we need to reduce the cost of camel milk and camel milk products to make it available to more people.