Unforgotten Brands: Milky Mist

Milky Mist logo

Through determination, innovation, and a commitment to quality, Satish transformed Milky Mist to a thriving brand

T. Sathish Kumar’s father, who, with his brother, had launched a power loom unit in 1983 but sold it after three years due to poor performance, passed the entrepreneurial spirit on to his son.

The brothers got into the milk industry later on. Every day, they sold about 3,000 litres of milk after buying it from suppliers, chilling it, and shipping it to Bangalore in cans.

Unfortunately, the enterprise failed to meet expectations, and his uncle left the business in 1990. His father decided to shut down the business in 1992. At that point, Sathish decided to take a chance.

Entry of Sathish

When Sathish announced his intention to drop out of school and join the business, he faced no resistance from his family. They permitted him to follow his passion while he was a student at Erode’s Hindu Kalvi Nilayam.

As he dabbled in entrepreneurship, he faced overwhelming odds. He had dropped out of eighth grade at the tender age of sixteen. Sathish Kumar, nevertheless, was ready for anything that came his way. He was born into an agricultural family in a Tamil Nadu hamlet close to Erode, and they possessed around twenty acres of arable land. He was fearless in his pursuit of his dreams and objectives.

In his quest to grow the business, he discovered paneer, a milk-based product that one of their Bangalore clients successfully sold to hotels.

Paneer Foray

The idea of making paneer occurred to him. However, he was clueless about how to make it and had no contacts to assist him. It was the age before the internet. In those days, it was hard to get information.

They discovered that people often prepare paneer by boiling milk with vinegar. They gave it a shot and tweaked the recipe till they obtained paneer of a respectable grade.

One morning, when his father was in the market, Sathish decided to produce paneer by curdling 400 gallons of milk. The father cried out after seeing his son had “spoilt” so much milk and thereby reduced his earnings that day.

However, the youngster knew what he was doing. He made much more money from selling milk from the paneer than his father.

Sathish sent a 10-kilogram bag of paneer to Bangalore in 1993 for the first time. At first, he sold paneer in bulk to hotels through distributors. They were selling 50–100 kilogrammes of paneer per day by 1995.

In 1995, they stopped selling milk and instead used it to make paneer.

Sathish decided to get into retail two years later as volumes increased.


In 1997, the purchase manager at Foodworld, Bengaluru, expressed interest and asked Sathish about the brand name. There was one hurdle: a brand name. Back then, brand awareness wasn’t as prevalent, and Kumar, unfamiliar with the concept, had no name established. The manager rejected Sathish’s request, explaining that they could not sell the items without one.

Undeterred, he returned to Erode with a mission. Limited to the resources of the time (pre-Google!), he ventured to a browsing centre and embarked on a solo brainstorming session using Yahoo. His priorities were clear: a name that was easy to say, easy to remember, and universally appealing, transcending regional or religious ties. After his search, “Milky Mist” emerged as the winner.

Milky Mistake

Milk only has a two-day shelf life, and logistical issues added insult to injury for MMD, which already had low-profit margins. Bangalore, Coimbatore, and Chennai were among the places to which Kumar expanded his product sales. It was a mistake, in Sathish’s opinion, for the firm to get into selling liquid packaged milk. They began advertising free milk to persuade people to buy it. The demand for paneer quickly outpaced the supply of milk.

In 2005, the business began making and selling bulk khova and ghee, replacing the sale of liquid milk. The plan was always to get them thinking about products again.


Satish identified three key challenges:

Commoditization: Milk’s low margins made it vulnerable to price competition, saturating the market.

Short shelf life: milk’s perishability limited distribution and profitability.

Unreliable supply chain: varied sources and quality control issues hindered consistency.


Satish diversified into value-added products like paneer and ghee to foster growth, boosting profits and extending shelf life. He prioritised farmer allegiance by offering financial aid, veterinary support, and technology education. Establishing a robust cold chain involved investing in refrigeration and owning logistics for quality control and efficiency. Milky Mist owns the entire cold chain, from the retail shop coolers to the reefer trucks that transport its products across the country. Milky Mist, with more than 300 Bharat Benz reefers, can well qualify as a logistics company!

And yeah, to round off the father-son narrative, Satish’s dad turned into his master paneer cutter in no time at all after the 400-litre curdling session! 😀

But unfortunately, he did not live long enough to see all the success.

Through determination, innovation, and a commitment to quality, Satish transformed Milky Mist from a struggling milk venture into a thriving brand, leaving an indelible mark on India’s dairy industry.

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