The Chitale Bandhu brand is known for its shrikhand, yoghurt, and its own variant of the Gujarati snack ‘bakarwadi’.

A multi-crore business today, it all started when a dairy farmer in Maharashtra turned his purchase of a few dozen buffaloes into a booming business.

Coming from a long line of landlords and money lenders, Bhaskar Ganesh Chitale lost everything in the 1918 pandemic.

To start afresh, he left for Bhilawadi in the Sangli district in 1939. The village was home to a large stock of domesticated animals and was virtually swimming in excess milk produced.

Chitale was selling up to 50 litres of milk a day. Later on, he started the dairy product business because of the lack of storage facilities for the excess milk produced.

Back in 1980-95, the Maharashtrian brand also started making bakarwadi — a Gujarati snack, to reach out to other communities.

The snack, popularised by Chitale, is an amalgamation of the spiciness of the Nagpuri pudachi vadi and the shape of the Gujarati bakarwadi.

“Now, we process 8 lakh litres of milk every day. We sell 4 lakh litres and convert the remaining into shrikhand, cheese, etc,” says Chitale’s great-grandson Indraneel.

The brand which started with 10 employees has now turned into an international brand with nearly 2,000 employees.