Big Idea

Chitale Group’s success comes from a healthy mix of technology and tradition

Having crossed 12 billion in topline, the 80-year-old Pune group is planning to enter the big league 

Chitale Group Directors (Clockwise from top left): Indraneel Chitale, Kedar Chitale, Girish Chitale, Atul Chitale, Pushkar Chitale, Makarand Chitale, Anant Chitale, Vishwas Chitale, Sanjay Chitale, Shrikrishna Chitale and Shripad Chitale

What Moti Mahal is to Delhi or KC Das is to Kolkata, Chitale Bandhu Mithaiwale is to Pune. No trip to these cities is complete without a visit for chole to Moti Mahal, buying jars of roshogullas from KC Das or stocking up on bakarwadi from Chitale. The eight-decade old homegrown company embraced the Gujarati sweet and customised it for Maharashtra (by deep frying it and adding spices). While outsiders may only know Chitale Bandhu for its bakarwadi and other namkeens, for the locals, it is a brand that defines quality through its shrikhand, curd, cheese, sweet mix packets or any other dairy items. In fact, the company started as a humble milk distribution service 81 years ago in Bhilawadi, Maharashtra, took its business to Pune in 1942 and started making khoya and other milk-based Indian products in 1950.

“The day you want to add water to milk, you should stop doing the business,” was the founding tenet laid down by Chitale Group founder Raghunath Rao. To this day, the fourth generation of the family abides by this value, says current partner of the group, Indraneel Chitale. For instance, in the 1970s, when Chitale’s father and uncle suggested setting up a milk bar to sell value-added milk drinks like lassi and chaas, his grandfather cautioned them that the minute they moved away from traditional products, there would be high chance of dilution of brand value. Besides keeping with tradition, the company has also matched step with technology. From being the first ones in the country to sell milk in packaged pouches when everyone else was selling it in glass bottles, the group was also quick in automating its entire manufacturing process by 1994.

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