Lassi becomes money spinner for Punjab milk cooperative

June 23rd, 2009 - 1:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh By Alkesh Sharma
Chandigarh, June 23 (IANS) Lassi, the low-calorie yoghurt drink that is made in virtually every household in northern India, is the new money-spinner for Milkfed Punjab, the state’s cooperative milk producers’ federation, with sales increasing almost 50 percent in 2008-09.

According to the cooperative, which earns the bulk of its revenue from sale of pasteurised milk, the sale of lassi in tetrapacks, polypacks and bottles has registered record growth to touch Rs.7.42 crore (Rs.74.2 million).

“Lassi has undoubtedly emerged as one of our most saleable and profitable commodities,” Milkfed Punjab managing director V.K. Singh told IANS in an interview.

And apparently youth, soft targets of soft drink and cola manufacturers, are taking to drinking lassi.

“We have observed fast changing preferences of young consumers who have shown great inclination towards lassi. To meet the growing demand, we had to enhance the capacity of our lassi plant,” he added.

Traders confirmed that the demand for lassi was on the rise.

“Lassi is the only item that remains in demand throughout the day,” said Manmohan Singh, general secretary of the Verka Milk Booth Association (VMBA), Chandigarh.

“We are often out of stock. Sales have almost doubled in the last one year,” he told IANS.

Milkfed’s lassi is available in three flavours - plain, sweet, and salty - with the plain version remaining the most favoured.

“The fact that it is free from any fats or cream has made plain lassi popular among people suffering from diabetes and high blood pressure,” he said.

Kheer, a sweet dish made of milk, is another lucrative product for the cooperative society. According to Milkfed, the product recorded sale of Rs.1.16 crore in 2008-09, a 97 percent growth over that notched the previous year.

Sale of pasteurised milk similarly increased by 25 percent to touch Rs.496.84 crore.

Additionally, the cooperative exported ghee or clarified butter worth Rs.15 crore to countries such as Australia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Malaysia and the Philippines last year.

Milkfed was set up in 1973 to provide technical inputs to milk producers in Punjab and enhance production. Its annual turnover was around Rs.930 crore last fiscal.

“We are aiming to maintain the present growth rate and apart from that, we have a couple of new offerings that we would divulge in the coming months,” Milkfed’s managing director said.

“Now we have a presence in every town in Punjab and will certainly enlarge our distribution network,” he added.

(Alkesh Sharma can be contacted at alkesh.s@ians.in)

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