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American Palates to Get Taste of Rasogollas

Source: The Economic Times, New Delhi, India, Dec 9, 2002


The dairy industry is poised to carve out a Major market for Indian milk-based sweets overseas. And if all goes well, 'rasogolla' and 'gulabjamun' (or rasmalai, rabri and mishti doi) may well trip easier off the White Caucasian tongue in North America and the West faster than you can spit out "Bouillabaise!"

According to the recently released "Technology of Indian Milk Products" industry referencer published by Dairy India, the market for traditional Indian milk-based sweets alone is estimated at $500m.
The market for traditional dairy products in India exceeds an estimated Rs 50,000 crore and is the largest and fastest growing segment of the Indian dairy industry.

A major push in this direction of turning out bigger volumes of Strictly quality controlled traditional sweets for commercial sales both domestically and abroad has come from national brands such as Haldiram, Bikanerwala, KC Das and Ganguram. The most successful recent example of commercial produce breaking the traditional sales barrier for a traditional milk product, in fact, is that of dahi.
The consumption of just plain dahi exceeds 5m tonnes, almost 50 times the amount of all types of yoghurts consumed in the US.

Much of this identified potential in the West is focused on 20m odd ethnic South Asians living there.
"The Indian diaspora presents an exciting avenue for globalisation of mithais," the handbook maintains. Citing an increasing number of enquiries received by the dairy industry in India from abroad, particularly regarding equipment to manufacture paneer, khoa, shrikhand, gulab jamun etc, it maintains "Entrepreneurs in Europe, North America and Australia are looking into the prospects of manufacturing traditional Indian mithais." In June 2002, a Canadian initiative, IDP Foods Inc, went on stream to produce Indian milk products in North America. This, considered to be the largest attempt outside India to make ethnic Indian dairy products on an industrial scale, is being perceived by the domestic industry as an indicator to an increasing demand in the future.

Initiatives such as the IDP Foods Inc aim at targeting the pockets of Asian-origin communities in the West most of whom are in the upper income group. Some estimates put the annual income of the 20-m odd Indian diaspora alone at $300bn, almost three times the GDP of India.
The book underlines "Indian mithais have a good commercial market in The developed countries where the share of food in the overall household expenditure is small". The impending mithai revolution projected in the West is banking on three basic sociological trends: The high spending ability of the western target consumer and the need to access traditional sweets easily at traditional ceremonies, functions and festivals; the high inclination to try out exotic foods from other parts of the world, ergo, a cosmopolitan palate (as evidenced by the popularity of Italian, Chinese, Mexican and other ethnic cuisines as well the as the "balti" rage in UK) and third, even a resurgent trend, however marginal at this juncture, towards a wholesome, full-bodied food in its original consistency.

That trend notwithstanding, the production of ethnic products has to adhere strictly to international quality standards, including catering to the larger market of acutely fat conscious health trippers.
Increased spending on R&D for better quality monitoring, use of state-of-the-art preservation and aseptic as well as attractive packaging processes have to further come together to tap the full potential for future growth, the handbook emphasises. Inspection of dairy products for export is already being done, since 2000, by the Export Inspection Council (EIC) set up by the central government.


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  New Economic Opportunities
One new revolution that India has embarked on is the industrial scale production of hitherto handmade traditional milk products. Recent innovations in technology are having a wide-ranging impact on the growth of dairying. These technical advances are creating new economic opportunities par excellence for a range of agribusiness enterprises to expand avenues for enhanced income in India.
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