Nestlé refers to poor dairy consumers as "sub-groups" and has a whole set of "popularly positioned products" designed for them. Now the Swedish corporation Tetra Pak has started calling it going "Deeper in the Pyramid".
TetraPak dominates the global market for pasteurised milk packaging and has long encouraged the consumption of packaged and processed milk by sponsoring school milk programmes. The company says that its packaged milk is safer than the "loose milk" (i.e. fresh milk) provided by small farmers and local markets, which currently supplies over 80% of the dairy consumed in the South.
“Low-income consumers represent one of the biggest growth opportunities for the dairy industry. The key to tomorrow’s success is reaching these consumers today,” says Tetra Pak president and CEO Dennis Jönsson.
But TetraPak ackowledges that tapping into this market is not without challenges. How to make products that are "affordable, available and attractive to consumers on limited incomes ... without adding unsustainable costs"? Its solution, cut back on quality: "By using alternatives to whole milk – such as whey or lactic acid – it is also possible to produce nutritious and healthy dairy products at lower cost." Another way around providing real milk to poor consumers, routinely used by global dairy corporations, is to reconstitute imported, powdered no-fat milk with cheap vegetable oils.
TetraPak's other tactic is to lobby governments to implement regulations making it impossible for local markets to continue providing consumers with fresh, raw milk that people pasteurise at home. Through these markets hundreds of millions of people around the world earn dignified livelihoods, and hundreds of millions of poor families receive a highly nutirtious and safe source of food. The safety is guaranteed by home pasteurisation, which is common to most dairy markets in the South.
Part of TetraPak's plans for going deeper in the pyramid, also involve a move to bigger farms. The company has a large corporate division, called DeLaval, that "develops, manufactures and markets equipment and complete systems for milk production and animal husbandry" in more than 100 countries. In Pakistan, DeLaval is implementing a "Dairy Hub" programme in collaboration with the government and several dairy processors to develop larger-scale, modern, commercial dairy farms. Its "Dairy Hub" promotional video maintains: "The traditional approach of the farmer and his lack of knowledge about modern dairy farming is the single most important barrier impeding milk from achieving its true potential.
For more information on how TetraPak and other global dairy corporations are trying to take away dairy markets from small farmers and local vendors and to force feed poor consumers low quality dairy products, see the December 2011 report by GRAIN: The great milk robbery: How corporations are stealing livelihoods and a vital source of nutrition from the poor