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The Paradox of Chilled Dairy Distribution In India

In my work with various dairy companies in the chilled dairy distribution in India I have discovered a very unique paradox :

Everyone knows how to treat a frozen dairy product like Ice Cream in the Supply Chain – even a child will know that if it is kept outside the freezer, the ice cream will melt . So a lot of time and attention is paid by brands and trade partners in investing for the frozen supply chain.

But when it comes to a chilled product ( storage/transportation at + 4 deg ) all logic and reasoning is thrown to the wind – the Indian “Jugaad mind set” comes into play. After all how “chilled” is chilled ? For a tropical country like India where average temperature in summer is above 35 deg, even 20 deg is taken as chilled. True, 20 deg is is chilled but it is not “chilled’ enough for ensuring life of the product.

There is a great deal of reluctance in investing to keep dairy products chilled at 4 deg with even smaller grocery stores (Kiranas)  switching off their “Chillers” at night !

But many times the brands themselves are to blame, delivering “chilled diary products” in a “non chilled van”. This has been going on for years and the Indian housewife is by now used to getting a dahi/yoghurt/shrikahnd/paneer that “does not taste quire right” but since there is no other alternative, she just accepts status quo.

However, you try selling her a semi melted ice cream and then she will rebel. So is there is a strong business case for delivering chilled products to small shops so that the consumer experience can be enhanced and brand franchise is built leading to superior sales realisations ?



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