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Mother Dairy claims to be `India's No.1 Milk Brand'

Vinod Mathew

Mumbai , Dec. 30

THE war between the Amul and Mother Dairy has found fresh pastures with the seemingly never-ending spat reaching Mumbai a fortnight ago.

A turf war seems a distinct possibility as it is the second city after Delhi that the two brands will be compared apple for apple. Beyond admitting that the Mother Dairy brand was launched in Mumbai on December 15, NDDB officials said it was too early to say anything.

The length and breadth of Mumbai city has posters and hoarding proclaiming to `mmmumbai!' that Mother Dairy, `India's No.1 Milk Brand' is `Now in your city'. "It's fresh. It's pure. It's co-operative milk', scream the ads.

Needless to say, the Amul bosses are far from amused by these claims. Amul leads Mother Dairy by a fair distance nationally and in Mumbai, it is a meagre 25,000 litres of Mother Dairy against three lakh litres of Amul per day, they point out.

And what is more, with recent attempts to set up an alternative to the existing co-operative milk grid by way of private production companies, the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) has no business to label its brand co-operative milk, they say.

Says Mr B.M. Vyas, Managing Director, Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF), "Honestly, we do not know how someone can declare they are India's No1 milk brand without any basis. Today, Amul is handling almost 80 lakh litres of milk daily without very little stock getting piled up. If Mother Dairy is handling more than this, then Mother Dairy can claim to be number one. Otherwise, it is a misleading claim".

According to Mr Vyas, nowhere in the world has a Government owned company become the leader in the dairy business and India will not prove to be an exception. The NDDB no longer owns a national milk grid and with the failure of the much publicised joint venture with the State co-operative milk federation in Kerala, the NDDB was focusing now on pushing the Mother Dairy as a new generation co-operative brand, when it was actually not a co-operative, he said.

Even in Delhi, where Mother Dairy sells around 15 lakh litres per day (it does not sell Mother Dairy milk anywhere else except now in Mumbai), Amul is coming out with a six-lakh-litre per day dairy plant in Gurgaon in Haryana to take up its tally to seven lakh litres over the next 12 months.

Says Mr R.S. Sodhi, Chief General Manager, GCMMF, "The focus is definitely shifting in favour of liquid milk as there was a 20 per cent growth in procurement this year. It grew from 63 lakh litres to 74 lakh litres in the current year. The coming year will see us sell almost 35 lakh litres as liquid milk as against 29 lakh litres now. The strategy is clear - there will be less dependence on commodities".

Another dairy plant in Mumbai is scheduled for completion in 2005, as Amul is aiming to add to its present capacity of two lakh litres per day with another two lakh litres in 2005 and another two lakh litres in 2006. Similarly, Delhi will add three lakh each over the next two years while in Kolkata it will be two lakh litres more.

Surely, the reason why the Amul bosses are miffed about NDDB claiming the number one milk brand status with the Mother Dairy label is not hard to see.

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