A farmer is an integral part of a dairy industry, irrespective of any country he belongs to. The dairy industry forms a major source of livelihood for about quarter of the population across the world. And that leads us to make a note of the fact, how huge the dairy industry would be that it is able to feed 7.5 billion people around the world. India being the largest milk producer in the world alone contributes to nearly 13% of the total production. India’s annual milk production in the financial year 2015-16 was estimated to be 155.5 MT as compared to 146.3 MT in the year 2014-15 recording a growth of 6.3% approximately. With the constant increase in consumer demand, and to serve the populace, it is necessary for the Indian Dairy Industry to match the pace with adequate supply of milk. To support this, new and advanced dairy technologies are exploited in dairy projects instated at various levels of dairy farm management.
The Dairy Supply Chain or Cow-To-Consumer process as it is generally called is a model for milk procurement and production of assorted products made out of milk like cheese, butter, yogurt, ghee, ice-cream, etc.
Let’s analyze the dairy production procedure and find out the stages where daily procurment goes through until it finally reaches us.
The dairy farming process begins by milking the cattle. A farmer manages a small dairy farm where milking is carried out. Milking is a crucial activity forming the maiden point of business chain contributing to the overall production. The farmer extracts from milch animals, traditionally cows and buffaloes either manually using his hands or mechanically through a dairy farm equipment called milking machine. He milks the cattle two times a day, the first shift takes place in the morning and the latter one in evening. The milk produced during the day is collected into large cans and taken by the farmer to a nearby Village Dairy Cooperative Society (VDCS) for testing and analysis.
VDCS comprises of collection centers that operate at the village level. A center constitutes a panel of villagers that head and operate it and members comprise of farmers who deposit to VDCS. A member who operates the collection center takes a sample of milk brought by the farmer and tests it by means of a dairy milk collection software generally a milk analyzer. The tests are carried out in order to evaluate the quality based on essential parameters like fat content, the amount of Solid Not Fat (SNF) present, the density, and check for any adulteration (determined by the proportion of water residues present in milk). SNF consists of proteins (casein and lactalbumin), carbohydrates (lactose) and minerals (calcium and phosphorus) that altogether maintain the required texture of milk. All the resulting values are noted down corresponding to the respective parameters. A final amount of payment is calculated on the premise of the values obtained which is subsequently paid to the farmer. The members collectively look after the society, thereby maintaining transparency and trust. All the milk that is accumulated by VDCS is stored in a tanker, commonly known as Bulk Milk Cooler (BMC).
BMC is a large storage tank that holds milk at a cold temperature until picked by union tanker vans. These tanks are available in varying capacities of minimum 2 tons. BMC is deployed at all VDCS in order to preserve the quality, eliminating curdling and adulteration, and spillage of milk. A monitoring system is attached to the BMC that logs and tracks quantity, along with a compressor that maintains the temperature of milk inside the tank. Also, an agitator is implanted within the tank which keeps rotating to avoid icing of milk. Power supply through a generator or direct line is also monitored by this system. In addition to this, a BMC helps in cutting down the transportation costs as chilling of milk at primary dairy can be avoided, resulting in better returns to the farmers.
Thus, the collection at VDCS is supplied to the union for further milk processing and also to export markets. The transportation of milk is done by refrigerated or insulated tanker vans. The BMC tanks are emptied into these tankers and transported to the unions. These tankers primarily maintain a suitable temperature to avoid souring while amidst being carried to a union. Once the haulers arrive at the union, they submit the milk in the factory and take on other routes to collect more.
At the dairy plant, the collected milk is processed to produce various products. But before processing, it is tested again to check if the quality qualifies the required standard. If it does, the same is sent for further processing otherwise discarded at the initial stage itself. Here, some part of milk is pasteurized and packed in appropriate packaging, generally called milk pouches. These pouches are distributed to all the places within 24 hours. It is termed as liquid milk and supposed to be consumed within the same time frame. While in some pouches, required preservatives are added to increase the shelf life of milk and retain its quality at the same time. This milk is delivered to those places which are located far away from the dairy industry and it takes comparatively longer time reach there.
The remaining part of milk undergoes various necessary procedures to derive other dairy products like cheese, cream, butter, powdered and condensed milk, yogurt, ice-creams, chocolates, and much more. Each product that is derived from milk follows a unique process. Later, the pasteurized and other milk products are packed in sterilized and durable packaging. Sufficient precautionary measures are taken while packing the products to retain the quality and make them long-lasting. Lastly, these products are marketed and distributed to various retailers and wholesalers who later sell them to consumers.