Gupteshwar Prasad, 67, fondly remembers how dairy wasn’t his cup of tea as a kid. “My stomach didn’t take too kindly to cow milk. I used to throw up soon after gulping a sip. My mother was perturbed and tried goat milk instead. It worked, and having been initiated early on goat milk is how I have managed to stay fit as a fiddle,” he says with a chuckle. Over the years, a growing distrust for packaged cow milk and an equally buoyant need for a healthy alternative source of dairy have led to a steady rise in the demand for goat milk with entrepreneurs milking the opportunity.
Goat milk is claimed to support good health in more ways than one. “It is anti-inflammatory, promotes metabolism by increasing the body’s ability to metabolise iron and copper, high in fatty acids, rich in calcium, ultra-nourishing as it is loaded with essential vitamins and minerals, and is a known immunity booster due to the presence of selenium. It works wonders for those who have some level of intolerance to lactose,” says Samiksha, paediatric nutritionist, Rainbow Children’s Hospital, New Delhi, adding that it shouldn’t be given to infants.
Social entrepreneur Nikhil Ratnam’s Quidditas Farms retails goat milk in Bengaluru, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Pune, Ahmedabad, Salem, Bhopal, and offers a bi-weekly subscription option directly from its website, and is expected to launch in Delhi too. He says, “According to Ayurveda, goat milk is ‘grahi’—absorbent, and bowel binding; ‘laghu’—light to digest; ‘kshaya’—good for cases of emaciation, coughing and fever. It is also useful for persons suffering from ‘raktapitta’ or the diseases characterised by bleeding from various parts of the body and diarrhoea. Recent research from the National Dairy Research Institute has shown that goat milk potentially increases blood platelet counts and is thus beneficial for dengue patients.”
Nikhil had started Quidditas Farms in June 2015 with the aim to alleviate poverty in Gulbarga on the basis of sustainable commercial farming practices.
Being a dairy enthusiast, Ishita Y Aggarwal saw that there was space to work on an alternative source of dairy that would be lighter, low in sugar (lactose), highly nutritious and at the same time have all the qualities/consistency of regular cattle milk that lacks in plant source kinds of milk. She took the plunge after realising that India was an excellent market for dairy products and also because she believed that “eating right is important but drinking right is more important”.
Ishita launched Nutragoat in June this year. It offers a one-time trial pack, and a monthly subscription that gives the liberty to choose pack size (200 ml, 500 ml or 1,000 ml) and frequency (weekly, biweekly, alternate days, etc).
The consumption of goat milk and goat milk products has increased significantly over the last five to six years. It is said that 70 percent of the world’s population is lactose intolerant and 65 percent of Indians have some level of intolerance to lactose in cow milk. “It creates a market for goat milk which has naturally lower lactose. The shift to A2 milk in Indian urban population enhances goat milk appeal, which is naturally A2 casein-rich,” says Ishita.
Nutragoat will be in major retail stores by month-end. “We are planning to launch our exclusive, traditionally crafted goat milk ghee with a major retail chain in India. Goat cheese varieties (feta, soft, etc.) will also be launched by October and available India,” she chips in.
Nikhil, who is planning to diversify into cheese, yogurts and goat milk-based drinks in the coming months, says, “With growing levels of air pollution, dust, increased allergens in our water, unhygienic food, hormones, antibiotics, traces of pesticides due to fodder fed to the animals even in cow milk, people are looking for a healthy and natural alternative. Goat’s milk presents a natural and traditional solution.”