Mr Sathish Kumar is the CMD of MilkyMist, the only dairy in India to manufacture value added products. Today, the brand from Erode, Tamil Nadu has about 25 product categories with 200 different types of pack sizes and is a household name in entire South India. Focusing on a bigger ambition to make MilkyMist a pan Indian brand competing with giants like other brands. Mr Sathish Kumar shares with Fortune Exchange 500, his vision to make MilkyMist Dairy, a US $ One Billion company by 2030.

The life sketch of Mr Sathish Kumar T, is as interesting as the incredible success he achieved at establishing MilkyMist, a brand developed by him in the dairy category, from humble beginnings. The enterprising Mr. Sathish Kumar comes from a farming background and is a farmer himself. In 1992, he joined his father’s traditional milk trading business to extricate it from losses and in the process learnt about the pitfalls in the dairy business such as handling milk spoilage, losses and being at the mercy of traders. He started mulling on making value addition to milk and in 1992, Mr Sathish Kumar set up a small manufacturing unit in Chithode with minimum technical know-how and investment.

It was a time when Mr Sathish Kumar travelled frequently to Bengaluru where he came across a couple of restaurants where paneer was used as an ingredient. This caught his attention, and out of curiosity, Mr Sathish Kumar requested them to teach him the art of making paneer. Mr Sathish Kumar followed it up by close study of the markets and food habits in south India and his keen eye saw an opportunity to provide high quality alternate protein to meat and chicken to the large population of the region who are vegetarians and look for high-quality protein alternatives. "That’s how paneer as a product was conceived, developed according to local taste, and it’s manufacturing started in the factory and was marketed as Fresh Product. Unlike North Indian diet where paneer is an integral part of all dishes, in South, people had to be educated on the usage of paneer in various typical South Indian dishes. It took several years to educate the consumers and today I am happy to share that MilkyMist Paneer is the most preferred brand in the entire south India," says Mr. Sathish Kumar. Initially, Mr Sathish Kumar made paneer only for consumption for the hotel segment as he was struggling due to financial constraints. As he mastered the process of manufacturing paneer and started making superior quality paneer, the business gradually picked up and there was no looking back.

Since the paneer was initially sold without any label and brand name, he came up with the name “MilkyMist” and got the brand registered in 1996.

Taking the enterprise to the next logical level was entering the retail market with small packs, a strategy that worked as demand for small quantities found way into millions of homes. Between 1996 and 2010, while he continued his focus on paneer, Mr Sathish Kumar at the same time introduced other products like curd, yoghurt, butter, ghee, etc., under the brand name of MilkyMist. In a smart move with the introduction of different types of cheese and other products in the market, the slow-paced growth gathered significant momentum from 2010 to 2016. Gradually, the consumers of South India started recognizing and accepting all of MilkyMist’s products, particularly preferring MilkyMist paneer and curd over other brands as their favorite choice. Very soon MilkyMist paneer became a household name.

Mr Sathish Kumar not only went further into expansion of the product category, but also expanded market penetration of the brand. This hectic growth initiatives were happening in a small manufacturing set up of less than an acre of land. As the brand grew in popularity and presence in the market, space was becoming a constraint and to address this constraint in the value chain of MilkyMist, Mr Sathish Kumar’s larger vision and future forecast led to the establishment of state-of-the art, and technologically superior plant with a capacity to handle 15 lakh litres of milk per day on its over 55 acres of land. MilkyMist was the first to introduce in India the latest world-class technologies at its unit namely:

  • 1. 1000 slices/ minute high speed cheese slice packing machine
  • 2. 60 MT/ day fully automatic paneer making plant with robotic packing
  • 3. 40 MT/ day fully automatic mozzarella cheese manufacturing plant
  • 4. 40 MT/ day cream cheese manufacturing plant

Mr Sathish Kumar is known for adopting new technologies in the dairy business. He travelled extensively to many countries to explore and study the latest technologies and adopted the best of them for building a fully automatic custom built paneer manufacturing plant. The products coming out of this hi-tech facility meet the highest standards in hygiene and quality and completely replaced manual packaging and handling process of paneer.

Mr Sathish Kumar’s vision and endeavours to take MilkyMist to the next best level has the strong support of Dr. K. Rathnam, CEO of MilkyMist, who is a graduate in Food and Nutrition with more than three decades of technical and administrative experience spread across various organizations that includes the pioneering and world-renowned institution like AMUL. Dr Rathnam is instrumental in the company’s rapid growth witnessed over the past couple of years and he intends to keep the tempo intact as he has grand plans for both organic as well as inorganic growth thereby catapulting MilkyMist into the top league.

"Our products are now being exported to Singapore and Middle East. Our Vision is to provide best quality products by offering the best competitive price to milk producers and provide quality products at an affordable price and make it available at consumer doorsteps. The infrastructure facility also includes state of art in-house laboratory equipped with the most sophisticated equipment, which are managed by qualified Microbiologists and Chemist. Every batch is subjected to quality check right from the raw material in-take to the finished product. To further ensure that the product reaches our primary clients fresh, we have a fleet of refer trucks of various capacities to take care of cold chain, which forms the most essential part to retain the products inherent properties. The entire logistics is monitored using the latest GPS technology to ensure timely service and product temperature at every stage. We are now providing Visi-coolers to every eligible secondary customer like retail outlets, to enhance brand visibility, besides we are in the process of extending this to as many stores as possible to make sure that the product reaches the end consumer in its best quality," shares Mr Sathish Kumar.

Emphasising on the ambitious future plans to not only become a Pan Indian brand but also pursue export opportunities by launching a series of new products like Frozen Pizza, UHT Lassi, Butter Chiplet and so on, Mr Sathish Kumar informs, "Very soon, we would soon be launching our exclusive parlour concept across many towns and cities. We are confident and ably guided to our endeavour."

Moving towards social progress and empowerment on the wheels of 200 Refer trucks that clog 1.35 million km distance per month, delivering fresh dairy products across south and central India, MilkyMist aims to generate employment in rural areas, uplift rural economy in the entire value chain through milk procurement, logistics, processing and marketing of its products. To promote the use of green energy, the brands uses 4 MW of Solar Power & 2 MW of Wind Power.