Amid the nationwide lockdown, the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Limited (GCMMF) — which markets its products under the brand Amul — has acquired additional temporary plants outside the state of Gujarat to process the surplus milk procured from milk farmers across the country.
GCMMF Chairman Ramsinh Parmar, who addressed stakeholders and dairy unions on Saturday, said that the consumption of milk products with longer shelf-life has seen a steep rise since March. Officials added that Gujarat has seen the sale of dairy whiteners like never before.
In a statement on Saturday, Parmar said that milk cooperatives attached to Amul sold approximately 255 to 260 litres of milk everyday in April during the lockdown, which is 15% higher than April 2019. For the month of March, Amul sold about 140 lakh litres of milk per day to its consumers, which has now reduced to 125 lakh litres per day.
“This is mainly because hotels, restaurants, catering businesses are shut during the lockdown period and people from cities have migrated to villages,” Parmar said. “In contrast, there has been an increase of 15-50% in the sales of paneer, ghee, butter and tetra-pack milk. Similarly, there has been a recorded slump of 85% in the sale of ice creams and 70% reduction in the sale of flavoured milk.”
The cooperative has procured processing plants outside Gujarat after it was decided to also purchase milk from farmers who were originally not part of the unions affiliated to Amul. Parmar said, “We decided to purchase milk from those farmers who were not attached to the cooperative, but arrived at collection centres during this time (lockdown) to sell their milk. This is because private traders, sweetmeat shops and other allied businesses that procure milk are closed. All 18,600 milk producers unions, as well as 35 lakh milk farmers attached to Amul have been given guidelines about keeping themselves safe. They have been instructed to wash their hands before dropping milk at the collection centres and to maintain social distance at all times.”
Parmar added that Amul has decided to transfer Rs 362.94 crore to milk farmers associations, a figure which is 7.78% higher than the last financial year.
Amul Managing Director RS Sodhi told this newspaper that the new plants have been leased on a temporary basis in Rajasthan and Maharashtra. “We have two each in Rajasthan and Maharashtra. We might give them up soon, as the milk supply lowers in summer. As of now, because the procurement was high, it was needed.”
Sodhi added that the Federation has observed a trend of increased consumption of products like paneer and dairy whiteners, even in the state of Gujarat, where the market for dairy whitener has never been big.
“We have always had good sales of dairy whiteners in metropolitan cities like Mumbai and those in North India. Sales have increased now — even in Gujarat, there is a demand for diary whitener. It is an indication that people have stocked up on some items owing to the lockdown. Similarly, we have seen more demand for baby milk powder. On regular days, people have work breakfasts and lunches, but now that everyone is home, the meals are also at home and the consumption has gone up over 25%,” Sodhi said. Non-availability of meat in many parts could also be a reason why people have turned to products like paneer, he said, adding that the production of ice creams has been suspended since the last one month.
Amul has contributed Rs 51 lakh to the Prime Minister’s relief fund and a total of Rs 50 lakh to the Chief Minister’s relief fund, which includes Rs 12.25 lakh of contribution from Amul employees, Parmar said.
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