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  • Writer's pictureDr. P.K. Shrivastava


Updated: Apr 29, 2022

A. Introduction:

Veda and Upanisad mentioned the origin of dahi and fermented milk products during 6000–4000 BC, one of the oldest fermented milk products of the Hindus (Yegna Narayan Aiyar 1953). Preparation and consumption of dahi have been recorded since 2000 BCE in India (Prakash 1961) (Source: History and Culture of Indian Ethnic Fermented Foods and Beverages; Jyoti Prakash Tamang, Pages 1-40).

Fermented dairy products are foods widely consumed worldwide. These products have shown a substantial consumption increase in recent years and market trends suggesting that this will even increase. The growing consumer interest in fermented dairy products is due to the nutritional and health benefits offered by these products because of the effect on the bacterial microbiota of the intestine contributes to a healthy life and ultimately increase life expectancy (Bourrie et al., 2016, Chen et al., 2019) (Source:

Milk and milk products have high nutritive value, due to this, milk it is easily spoiled by pathogenic microorganisms. Hence fermentation with the help of LAB (Lactic Acid Bacteria) is used for prevention of nutrient quality of the milk & milk products. LAB converts lactose (milk sugar) into lactic acid. Fermented milk products are mostly prepared by adding LAB in the form of starter culture to milk (cow, buffalo or yak or mixed) and are allowed to ferment.

One such very popular fermented traditional Indian fermented product is called dahi or curd. Dahi is a lactic acid fermented product of cow or buffalo milk or combination of both. Dahi is rich in LAB and demonstrates probiotic effect, which helps in intestinal health (Sekar and Mariappan 2007). Lassi is a traditional milk beverage of summer season, which is prepared from dahi, blended with water and tastemakers. Lassi is a probiotic product due to the presence of active LAB. Buttermilk is the liquid that is left over when butter is churned out of cream, consumed with or without added salt and spices (Sarkar et al., 2015). It has less fat content and fewer calories compared to regular milk or dahi. Rabdi is a famous dairy preparation in the north-west part of India. It is a LAB fermented milk product with pearl millet. (Source: Int.J.Curr.Microbiol.App.Sci (2018) 7(4): 1873-1883 1878)

Besides the fermented traditional dairy foods, Indian cuisine has varieties of fermented products, which are with or without milk like; (1) Grain based fermented foods (dosa, idly, uttapa, chhangpa, dhokla, ambali, jilebi, gulgule, etc) (2) Grain based fermented beverages (Lungi, soor, Jara, Apong, Bhati, jhaanr, ghanta, daru, etc.) (3) Plant based fermented foods, (4) meat & see food based fermented foods.

Fermentation processes generally enhance the nutritional interest of many foods and increase the bioavailability of nutrients. The fermentation action of specific LAB strains may lead to removal of toxic or anti-nutritional factors, such as lactose and galactose, from fermented milks to prevent lactose intolerance and accumulation of galactose (Shiby & Mishra, 2013). The transformation of lactose into lactic acid is the most important fact, in addition to other bioactive components.

India is the world's largest consumer of dairy products, besides being the world’s largest milk producer. The biggest agricultural produce, contributing to over 26% to agricultural GDP. The operating margins in value-added products are almost three times compared to the liquid milk business, thanks to changing consumption pattern of “eat-out-home” & “rapid urbanisation”. The milk production alone has reached over 200 million ton by 2021 (Source: with an annual growth rate of 5.70% (during 2019-20, over 2018-19, as per the Govt data). The value of output from total livestock sector is of Rs 11.60 lakhs crore and Rs 7.73 lakh crores only from milk alone (source: NDDB statistics). A study on the demand for milk and milk products, conducted by the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), estimated that by 2030 at an all-India level it will reach to 266.5 million metric tonnes (Source: utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst)

B. Indian fermented dairy foods:

As Indicated in introduction that the fermented products are being used in India from Vedic period. The fermented dairy products have been the part of food of peripheral India (like; North-east, Sikkim, Himanchal, Tibbet, etc.) and they continue to be a part even today. Currently, due to their health benefits, the fermented dairy products have taken a ride over all other dairy products, as a result, lots many novel fermented dairy products are available in the market (Table 1).

Table 1: List of main Indian traditional fermented dairy foods

C. Western fermented dairy foods:

Cultured buttermilk, sour cream, yogurt and cheese are among the most common fermented dairy products in the western world. Other, lesser-known products include; Kefir, Koumiss, Acidophilus milk, and New Yogurts containing Bifidobacteria. The cultured butter milk is just like Indian butter milk; however, it is made from curd with specific starter culture to give a specific taste. It is a low-fat product. The Sour Cream is also a fermented product using LAB and Streptococcus lactice, S creamoris, etc. Yogurt is commonly available in Indian market, which is similar to the western yogurt. The preparation methods are pretty much similar to Indian process of manufacturing yogurt. Of course, the Kefir, Koumiss are the authentic western fermented dairy foods. The Acidophilus milk and new yogurt with Bifidus bacteria (especially made by Dannon) is actually a specialized product of some companies, however, it could be compared with some similar variants of fermented dairy foods available in India. (Table 2)

D. Components of fermented dairy products:

The most important biogenic metabolites include (1) proteins (Casein, whey protein, , peptides, bio-active peptides and Bateriosins) (2) Carbohydrates (oligosaccharides, polysaccharides, exopolysaccharides), (3) vitamins (4) Kefiran (5) yeasts (6)probiotics and prebiotics and organic acids, including fatty acids (Ebringer, Ferencik, & Krajcovic, 2008) (Fig. 1).

Figure 1: Components of fermented dairy products (For details refer: (Source article:

E. Health benefits of fermented dairy foods? Table 3 below indicates it all (for details please refer the source)

The increasingly demand for healthy foods in food industry has led to the development of novel & standardise products having prebiotic substances or probiotic bacteria. The foods containing prebiotics and probiotics have sparked the interest of the dairy industry due to their positive health benefits like; curd, yogurt, kumys, skyr, yakult, kefir, etc. (Bourrie et al., 2016, Chen et al., 2019) (Source: (Table-3)

F. Acceptability of fermented products in market:

The development of novel dairy based fermented food depends on its unique qualities (taste, appearance, consistency, palatability) etc. The main fermented products in the market are probiotic milk, probiotic-yogurt, probiotic-ice-cream, probiotic-cheese, kefir, etc. and their variants.

Consumer friendly: The consumer preferences come first as far as the acceptance of a fermented product is concern. Though the microbiota differs a lot for the fermented milk food (standard or novel), which decides its quality, however, it’s the liking and suitability of the consumer, which decides the acceptance of the product into the market.

There are three sections in the cycle of the fermented food (a) Products selection (b) Acceptance (c) Production/ manufacturing. The Selection depends highly on the multi-microbiota, probiotic Vs quantitative availability, etc., while the acceptance depends on the end result metabolites suiting to the and consumer’s liking (shelf life, aroma, texture, acidity, taste, consistency, appearance, transport hazards, etc.). The production has to accommodate the above points, while opting for the manufacture of a standard or novel fermented milk food. Means selection of “starter strain” becomes more vital for success of a fermented product. Correct balance of flavor, aroma, texture, acidification, bitterness, speed of fermentation, and the optimum quantity of organic acid, vitamins and minerals is essential. (source: Ref: Monday, December 17, 2018 FnB

Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are the most common probiotic bacterial cells that were used in the production of fermented and non-fermented dairy products. Probiotics are distinct as live microorganisms which, when administered in sufficient amounts present a health benefit for the host (according to Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations; World Health Organization - FAO/WHO, 2002).

Challenges: The most crucial is to over-come to the challenges those are to be addressed while manufacturing standard or developing novel fermented dairy food products and maintain their qualities (as indicated above).

Market trends: The increasing habits of “eat-away-home” has changed the consumption trends for ready-to-serve, easy to store, fermented dairy products, which would ride piggyback on the fast-food revolution sweeping the urban India.

The article is adopted from the main article of Dinesh C Pandey, Mahesh Satpute, published on Monday, December 17, 2018 FnB


Fermented dairy foods, health benefits and market trend 28.04.22
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