How Tetra Pak’s technology is enabling access to safe food across extreme ends of India

People sitting comfortably in their homes in cities across the country have the luxury of ordering food at the touch of button. From fresh milk to fruit juices, from different cuisines to gourmet cooking ingredients, you name it, you can have it. High disposable incomes and exposure to a plethora of choices makes us city-dwellers oblivious to challenges that those in remote India face.

Many remote areas of the country do not have the privilege of getting fresh high quality liquid food, especially milk, all year around and depend on either preserved or powdered versions to meet their daily needs. Here's where packaging and processing solutions-providers like Tetra Pak come in, making everyday life easier for people who face scarcity of resources.

In the past thirty years of its operations in India, the company spent the first ten years seeding the market, building awareness about the merits of their UHT technology and aseptic packaging and building their own capacity to cater to a market as large and diverse as India. In the years that followed they worked with other F&B brands to make food safe and available everywhere, co-creating and conceptualizing products with customers to suit evolving market needs.


Since then, aseptic technology - which Tetra Pak pioneered globally over fifty years back - has proven to be a solution to reduce food losses the world over and in transport, in addition to keeping food safe which is why it is so relevant for India where our food processing sector continues to face widespread and perennial wastage of food. This aseptic technology has enabled the penetration of safe foods into the remotest parts of the country.


The Indian Army story

Even though India is a milk-surplus country, it is ironic that a large part of the country still has no access to fresh milk. The North-east is one of the hardest to reach areas in the country and has relied on powder milk for years. For years, mothers have missed giving their children the necessary nutrition for lack of access to fresh milk. Most of us cannot imagine a childhood without our mothers chasing us with a glass of milk twice a day. But this one-stop nutrition has been elusive for a large part of the country.

For our jawans posted in the farthest-reaching areas like Kashmir or Sikkim, lack of access to fresh milk is just another challenge on a list of many others. Spending months facing extreme weather conditions, even cut off from civilization, while defending our borders, the Indian Army has also had to traditionally rely on powder milk.

Tetra Pak’s UHT technology and aseptic packaging technology has changed this over the years and given access to fresh milk by eliminating the need for a cold chain during distribution. The Indian Army today consumes over 1 lakh litres of UHT milk every day provided by several different organizations like Amul, Karnataka Milk Federation and is one of the biggest customers for these milk producers. For many years, it was impossible to transport milk to these remote locations because of milk being a perishable product, and the high costs and infrastructure needed to build a complete cold chain for distributing the milk.

Mr. R. S. Sodhi, Managing Director, GCMMF-Amul says, “When we proposed Tetra Pak’s UHT milk cartons to the India Army, they readily accepted it. At the very remote locations where it was impossible to get milk, fresh milk is now available. Soldiers feel at home when they drink UHT milk.”

Today, UHT and Aseptic technology together are making sure that the Indian Army gets the nutrition they need.

Holding on in high seas


The challenge of food access is not limited to just the mountains, but also the seas and their coast. In South India, the large coastline is dotted by thousands of fishermen who are dependent on the sea for earning their daily living. As they are off to the sea for days on end it is difficult for them to carry huge packets of milk or food for survival. This is one of the need gaps that was identified by the Karnataka Milk Federation and inspired them to introduce 100 ml Tetra Fino Aseptic packages that the fishermen can now carry on their boats and get much-needed nutrition and refreshment.

The convenient 100 ml and 200 ml packets are also perfect for families that have low milk requirements and ensure freshness for people who can’t afford to refrigerate milk. One such group of consumers is migrant laborers. These laborers move to temporary labor camps near construction sites for short periods of time with a few essentials that will help them survive for that period. Sometimes a handful of utensils and a few clothes is all they carry with them. No question of refrigeration or storage facilities, and little money to spare. For this group, the Tetra Fino Aseptic is a blessing. The milk package available for INR 10, 20 is a shared asset, with 2 or more people pooling together money to buy a pack and share a few cups of tea. No need for refrigeration also means that they can carry the packs with them to their work site and consume the milk as convenient.

As Rakesh Singh, Managing Director, Karnataka Milk Federation puts it, “The Tetra Fino Aseptic has addressed two issues- where the milk requirement is only for 100 or 200 ml, the consumer need not go for larger packs, and secondly, quality is assured. After all, everyone needs milk, India needs milk and our effort is to take safe milk to every household of this country”.