French dairy major Danone was the first to give Indians a taste of flavoured yogurts. Its vanilla, strawberry and mango flavoured yogurts caught the attention of the average city-bred Indians, and yogurts soon became a part of their breakfast and even made its way as an in-between meal snack.
Traditional dairy companies such as Amul and Nestle followed the suit by launching their flavoured yogurts. Danone even localised yogurts by launching the Bengali mishthi doi and mango lassi.
However, in 2018, the French dairy major suddenly declared that it was exiting the Indian market. While its innovation pipeline and its quality standards were impeccable, what probably went wrong was its single-minded focus on yogurts, a category which was nascent in India.
Though India has the highest per capita consumption of curd in the world, flavoured yogurts were alien to most Indians, especially those living in smaller towns. To add to that, milk procurement and distribution are also complex processes in India, which Danone wasn't used to and ended up in huge losses.
Novandie Foods, yet another French yogurt maker (a subsidiary of Andros, France), has recently announced its entry into India through a joint venture (JV) with the Hyderabad-headquartered dairy company Heritage Foods, and it makes one wonder yet again, whether a yogurt-only company can be successful in India.
Vivek Mani, CEO of Heritage Novandie Foods, claims that the JV partners perfectly complement each other. "The partnership is symbiotic," says Mani.
Heritage Foods, he says, on an average procures 15-20 lakh litres milk per day, and to offer a great quality yogurt one needs to have control over milk procurement. "Heritage has been doing temperature sensitive distribution for years. We have better control over the high-quality milk we need. The high-quality yogurt that the French company promises comes from high-quality raw materials and hygienic and safe packaging. They use fresh fruits and no preservatives. Novandie is very proud of its technology that allows not just a great product, but also a longer shelf life."
"Our fruit and flavour partners also have long association with Novandie and they work with them in most of the countries they are present in. So, Novandie is well prepared and there is likely to be less surprises," he further adds.
Heritage Novandie Foods has set up its manufacturing facility in Palghar district in Maharashtra and its yogurt brand, Mamie Yova will be available across Mumbai, Pune, Surat, Ahmedabad and Vadodara. It will be launched in Hyderabad and Bengaluru in a few months.
While Mamie Yova is stirred yogurt, the company has also launched a smoothie-like beverage 'Yo Pop', which Mani refers to as a 'drinkable yogurt'. He says that in the coming months the JV would be launching a host of new products in the yogurt space.
While Heritage Novandie is confident of carving a success story by riding on the back of experience of Heritage Foods, dairy experts believe that for a value-added dairy business to be successful in India, it needs to have a portfolio of products ranging from cheese and paneer to butter and yogurts.