Nestle Pakistan Sells Pasteurized Milk in $23 Billion Market

Nestle Pakistan Ltd., a unit of the world’s biggest food company, has started selling pasteurized fresh milk in a pilot project as it seeks to develop a new segment in the South Asian country’s $23 billion dairy market.

The company has been delivering plastic pouches of milk to 100 homes in Lahore for the past three months on motorbikes and three-wheeler taxis.

“It’s like when we started with our water gallons 20 years ago, which started with delivery to offices and households, it starts small and then spreads,” Nestle Pakistan Chief Executive Officer Magdi Batato, 56, said in an interview at the company’s headquarters in Lahore. “There is a potential, but it’s still niche in my view.”

Nestle wants to diversify in the world’s fifth-largest milk market, where 95 percent of dairy products sold are unprocessed with people buying the liquid raw and then boiling it. Companies already sell milk in ultra-high temperature form that has a longer shelf amid long hours of energy outages in the blackout-prone nation.

Pakistan’s dairy industry has a value of about 2.3 trillion rupees ($23 billion) a year, according to Zoya Ahmed Zaidi, an analyst at AKD Securities in Karachi. She projects the sector will increase in value by about 10 percent over the next five years.

‘Right Direction’

Engro Foods Ltd., a Pakistani dairy and juice company, discontinued branded shop sales of fresh, pasteurized milk after about a year in the southern city of Karachi in December. The company was hampered by the city’s frequent power outages, said Nauman Khan, research head at Foundation Securities.

Nestle is “going in the right direction as demand is rising for branded products with the upper-middle class becoming more hygiene-conscious.” Amreen Soorani, an analyst at Karachi-based JS Global Capital, said by phone. Home delivery “is more convenient and makes it more accessible.”

Pakistan’s sale of processed drinking milk products are projected to have more than double in the past five years to 134.6 billion rupees in 2014, and are forecast to reach 203 billion rupees by 2019, according to Euromonitor International.

Batato said he expects the Pakistani processed milk market to grow to 7 percent or 8 percent in five years. “It won’t be a step change like Turkey.''

Turkey gave farmers incentives to sell milk to documented processing companies as part of its efforts to join the European Union, which boosted the share of the pasteurized-milk sector to 70 percent from 10 percent, according to Batato.

Pakistan’s middle class more than doubled to 84 million in 2002-2011, bringing almost half the nation into that segment for the first time, according to a study by Dr. Jawaid Abdul Ghani, a professor at the Karachi School for Business and Leadership, published last year.

Full Capacity

Nestle started its Pakistani operations in 1988 in a joint venture with Milk Pak Ltd. before taking over management of that company four years later, according to company’s website. About 80 percent of revenue is generated from milk and nutrition products including baby formula and cerelac, while the rest comes from water and beverages, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The company’s powdered milk plants in Pakistan are running at ‘‘full capacity,” Batato said. “We are taking every single drop. There is an opportunity to import tactically a bit, but this is not our business model.”

Nestle SA owns 59 percent of the Pakistan company, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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