'Plant-based milk labeled as 'Milk' misguides consumer,' Parag
Food Safety & Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), in its recent regulation regarding the revised standards of milk and milk products, stated that products containing constituents that are not derived from milk are considered to be misbranded as 'Milk' or 'Milk Products'. Hence the term 'Milk' cannot be used for such products in any advertisement, label, or commercial document.
Mumbai-headquartered Parag Milk Foods, a leading dairy FMCG company, had raised concern with FSSAI to review the contents of plant extracts like soy, almond, among others, and recommended that it should be categorized as a plant-based beverage and not ‘Milk’.
Devendra Shah, chairman, Parag Milk Foods, said, "Milk is an important component in the Indian diet. Experts believe that after mother's milk, the best milk for human beings is cow's milk. In recent years, we have seen plant extracts of soy, almond, rice, coconut, among others, being termed as milk, which is misleading and is in contravention to the definition of milk as defined under the FSS Act 2006 and regulations. These plant-based milk extracts contain much lesser nutrition with very low contents of protein, calcium and other nutrients in comparison to cow milk."
He further added, "We believe that it is quite unfair to label other plant-derived products as milk since these are cheap substitutes. This not only misguides the consumers but also lacks necessary nutrition and benefits associated with milk and at the same time it harms the interests of millions of dairy farmers in the country."
India is the largest producer and consumer of milk, with 99% penetration in terms of consumption. More than 100 million farmers are associated with milk production, and in fact, milk is the largest food crop in the country, with its value exceeding the combined production of rice and wheat. Furthermore, milk contributes to more than a quarter of the agriculture GDP and is the only source of daily income for farmers.
Milk is the first food we have as an infant, and we continue to use various milk and milk-based products during our lifetime. It is ingrained in the Indian diet for more than 5,000 years and is considered the purest form of nutrition. It is nature's most unique food and labeled complete food as it contains all the nutrients for the growth and maintenance of the human body. Further, being created for infants, it is pre-digested in nature. The major and minor constituents of milk include milk fat, protein (casein and whey proteins), carbohydrates (lactose, also known as milk sugar), minerals (calcium, phosphorous), vitamins (A, B, D), and enzymes.
As per the Food safety standards (Food Products and Food additives) Regulations 2011, milk is the normal mammary secretion derived from complete milking of a healthy milch animal without adding or extracting from it unless otherwise provided in these regulations.
None of the plant-based milk contains enough proteins and other nutrients unless they are fortified. To boost the nutrient profile of these beverages, some manufacturers fortify them. However, cow milk is a complete food designed by nature and does not require any fortification or addition of food additives.
Parag Milk Foods Limited, established in 1992, is the largest private dairy FMCG Company with a Pan India presence. The company has manufacturing facilities with in-house technology strategically located at Manchar in Maharashtra, Palamaner in Andhra Pradesh, and Sonipat in Haryana. It sells 100% cow's milk products that are healthy and nutritious. Its integrated business model and strong R&D capabilities have helped the company emerge as the leader in innovation.
With a mechanized milking process, Parag Milk Foods' dairy farm, Bhagyalaxmi Dairy Farmhouse, has more than 2,500 Holstein Friesian cows. Under brand "Gowardhan", the company offers traditional products like Ghee, Dahi, Paneer, and others. In contrast, under the brand name "Go" it provides cheese, UHT milk, buttermilk, lassi, and yogurt.
"Pride of Cows", the flagship brand of Parag Milk Foods, was introduced with a Farm to Home concept proposition targeted towards customers seeking premium quality cow milk. The company has also ventured into the B2C segment for Whey Protein with the brand Avvatar – India's 1st 100% vegetarian whey protein, first of its kind manufactured in India. The company's goal is to become the largest dairy FMCG company that emphasizes health and nutrition to consumers through innovation.