In India, even if 5% of the people shift from loose to packaged milk, it can create one more Amul every year

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To wear the hat of Amul Managing Director is not easy, and who would know it better than Jayen Mehta, the man who succeeded RS Sodhi as the chieftain. Amul, symbolic of India’s white revolution, has witnessed to its own set of controversies. “We take controversies in our stride,” said Mehta.

Despite the competition, Amul has retained its brand value. Is it just because of having the first mover advantage or a proper strategy? businessline’s Richa Mishra and Rutam Vora caught up with the Managing Director of Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd (GCMMF), makers of brand Amul, on the sidelines of the recently-held Food Conclave 2023 at Hyderabad on issues relating to new approaches in the dairy market development, one region one product concept, margin pressures and some controversies around Amul.

Amul is controversy’s best child. You seem to be attracting controversies like anything. So, how do you deal with that being in this position?

There are some things you can’t control. There are some things you can’t oppose as well. People who talk about Amul in one way or another other are consumers of Amul products, if not current, then potential. So, we take controversies in our stride. We deal with them with facts. End of the day, truth prevails. Besides, the target is to convey the factual position on any issue. The issue we are talking about is our entry into a neighbouring State. Our intention is always clear working with producers and consumers consistently across the length and breadth of the country. And that’s what helps the brand sustain, keep its relevance and sometimes benefit also from some controversies.

Amul brand has always been seen as a game changer. Today we see people talking about the sachet economy also. What is your take on the concept of a sachet economy with more players in the market?

Talking specifically about milk, there is a big shift of consumers moving in from loose and unorganised sectors to packaged and branded products. This has been a trend in the urban areas for a long time. But post-Covid we realised this shift has got accelerated across India. When people move from unorganised to organised, from loose to packaged, they look for trusted brands. That’s where brands such as Amul come in. We have the legacy of providing value-added products with the best quality at affordable prices. The opportunity is very large. In India, even if 5 per cent of people decide to shift from loose milk to packaged milk, it can create one more Amul every year — a $9 billion company with nearly 300 lakh litres of milk daily.  We are sensing this shift happening in a very big way. Therefore, we are using this opportunity to expand our presence by increasing milk processing capabilities, going to a large number of villages, encouraging more farmers to get into organised co-operative dairy.  We are very clear that this is one trend we want to catch on and grow the business for the benefit of both the producers as well as the consumers.

Today the industry is talking about region-specific categories. Can you elaborate on the concept of one region, one product?

This is a unique but very important concept because if the consumers are willing to pay a premium for a certain type of products, then it makes sense for the producers to tap this demand by creating a portfolio around it. In our case, our producers are the owners of this brand. So, it is all the more important for us to be able to segregate, say buffalo milk and market it. Also products such as paneer and Buffalo mozzarella is globally accepted with premium over regular cheese. These are opportunities by adding value and meet the unmet demand of the customers who choose this. So this pent-up demand can be translated at a higher value to the consumers. Same applies to the different breed of cattle. There are people who seek variety, who seek certain premium in what they consume and after we meet the technical challenges of product of processing a pure cow milk or Gir cow milk or pure buffalo milk, all these are opportunities. In Kutch region, we are working with camel breeders and developing that market.

Amidst increased thrust on growing milk production, where do we see growth coming from?

The opportunity for organised sector and all the players is huge. Growth is bound to come in a big way, as it is supported by consumer shift, which I mentioned earlier. It is not to grow from one side of the spectrum. It is the entire supply chain that will contribute in growth.  Starting from feeding of the cattle in the villages to setting up modern processing plants and distribution network of milk and milk products. We have a unique supply chain to handle milk and milk products in all the four different distribution highways, as we call them. Fresh products with just 48-hour shelf life are sent from the plant to market, we have 98 dairy plants across India. Second is the ambient products that move at room temperature and chilled products like butter, cheese and chocolates which moveat 0-4°c, while ice cream and frozen range at -20°c . We do business in a very cost-effective manner and ensure value for many as we deal with millions of producers and are value for money for our millions of consumers.

Have you identified challenges coming your way particularly in the backdrop of issues like inflation, availability of fodder among others?

Yes. Inflation to consumers is actually income to producer. It is a very tightrope balancing that we need to do. The farming community is under pressure and milk producers are basically small and marginal farmers. So, as a cooperative which is owned by farmers, we need to always look into their interest. But simultaneously, on the other side, for consumers who are also depending on milk for their nutrition requirements, it’s a family product. So, It has to stay within that affordability bracket. We always ensure that the price of milk is always in line with the inflation and ensure that the consumers are not bearing that excessive pressure from the producer side. And to support the producers, we continuously work on improving the productivity, try to bring down the cost of production so the producers stay happy and consumers stay happy. And together we are able to grow the market.

This is not an easy thing, but this is not a recent thing too.

In this backdrop, are the margins sustainable right now for the dairy sector broadly and Amul in particular?

I can’t talk about the rest of the players because private sector works with different EBITDA margins.  But if you have the mandate to pass on the largest share of the consumers’ rupee to producers, you have to operate very efficiently with very low cost, very low overheads and manage the business extremely professionally. For instance, for marketing we spend less than 1 per cent of our turnover, whereas private companies in any other sector would spend 5-12 per cent on this. This is a genuine benefit for both producer and consumers.

This interview was conducted by Hindu Business Line. Published on 1st May 2023

India’s many marketable regional taste profiles good enough for growth

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India’s regional taste profiles are seen as providing great potential for dairy players to unlock the next level of growth in value-added segments. One of the leaders in the segment, Mother Dairy bets big on the taste of the regions as it launches a range of ice creams with local flavours besides its popular Mishti Doi in the value-added segment. Manish Bandlish, Managing Director, Mother Dairy spoke to businessline on the sidelines of the Food Conclave 2023 at Hyderabad on strategy and challenges for growth.

Excerpts of the interview:

How promising is the value-added segment in dairy and how do you see that growing?

The value-added segment in dairy is growing at a very fast pace. Most of the value-added categories are growing upwards of 20 per cent. People are becoming conscious about the quality. They are converting at a very fast pace. Due to urbanisation and education, a lot of young people want to try and adapt to value-added products. I think our sector is giving them a great quality. So, the success is very strong.

How big is the value-added segment for Mother Dairy? And what is your strategy for growth?

We are very strong on value-added products and our share is strong and upwards of 30 per cent in the total milk system. Our value-added segment grows at five times the growth seen in milk. We are constantly innovating and introducing new products. We are also increasing our distribution network and reach so that our customers can access us.

You talked about developing the taste of the region. How are you pursuing that?

India is a huge country. Taste profiles change every few kilometres. So, adapting the industry to the localised taste is extremely important. We have an example of Misti Doi and the other curd format product of Yoghurt, which is sort of an alien product as it is a European concept into India. Adaptability of that product is not so great versus Mishti Doi. Across value-chain, across communities, across geographies, we have to find those successful categories and successful taste patterns and make sure that we deliver quality products in these categories.

Do you have any immediate product in mind to develop and tap the regional flavour?

We keep tapping regional flavours. We have launched 15 different varieties of ice cream – all are local flavours. We don’t go for international flavours – not that we are averse to it. But there are many marketable Indian taste profiles that are good enough for us to grow.

Are there issues or challenges that you see coming across your way for growth?

This industry is very cost-dominant. Over 80 per cent of my revenue goes back to the farmers. So the gross margins are very limited. Hence, we have to be very cost conscious on both aspects – sourcing and processing. Any change in input cost affects farmer income. Last year, we saw an LSD outbreak, unfavourable weather, and feed prices going up, which affected farmers. And we have to compensate them. I have to absorb as much as possible before I pass on to consumers. This affects our profitability in the overall value chain. This is an ongoing challenge, nothing new to the industry. It is cyclical. Every two-three years, we face such challenges and we try to overcome that. There is absolutely no impact on sustainability.

This interview was conducted by Hindu Business Line. Published on 1st May 2023

Rs 1,400 cr Dairy Plan to be rolled out soon

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What have been the steps taken by the board to boost dairy development in recent years and how successful have these been?

Currently, we are working in several states, including Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Assam and Maharashtra, to revive dairy cooperatives. In Jharkhand, we are running the state dairy federation and processing and procurement of milk in the state has crossed 0.2 million litres daily from only 5,000 to 6,000 litres a few years back.

We are forming a joint venture with the Assam government with a target of daily procurement and processing of a million litre of milk in the next five years. We took over management of Varanasi Milk Union last year where milk procurement was only around 12,000 litres per day.

Currently, we are processing 0.1 million litre milk daily and aim to double the capacity soon. After turning around the Varanasi union, we will try to take up other unions in Uttar Pradesh, which is the biggest producer of milk in the country. The board is strengthening dairy cooperatives in Marathwada and Vidarbha in Maharashtra.

What are the relative roles you see for cooperative or farmer producer organisations (FPOs)?

We traditionally support the setting up cooperatives.

FPOs and Farmers’ Producer Companies (FPCs) too are similar to cooperatives, the only difference being that cooperatives are registered under respective state act while FPOs and FPCs are registered under the Companies Act. We provide services to both the organisations. With the co-operation ministry, we are planning to establish dairy co-operatives in panchayats which can provide market linkage to farmers.

Will NDDB expand its role in supporting private organised dairy majors?

It’s a statutory requirement that we focus on promoting co-operatives. However, we provide various veterinary services to farmers whether or not they are associated with co-operatives. Under the Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development, we have agreed to provide services to farmers as well as private units. But on the question of whether we can provide loans to big private players, that’s not our motto.

What are the measures NDDB is initiating to boost oilseeds production?

In collaboration with Karnataka Oilseeds Growers’ Federation, we are expanding the area under sunflower cultivation. We are commercialising the high yield variety KBSS 41 of sunflower seeds developed by Indian Institute of Oilseeds Research, Hyderabad.

Recently, we have signed an MoU with University of Agricultural Sciences, Bengaluru for large scale sunflower seed production. Once seeing the response in Karnataka in sunflower seed production (currently India imports sunflower oil from Ukraine) we will work in Gujarat for boosting groundnut production and mustard output in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

We will be selling sunflower edible oil under the Dhara brand name.

What is the status of the second phase of the National Dairy Plan supported by the World Bank?

The first phase of the NDP plan as a central sector scheme was implemented with an investment of Rs 2,242 crore during 2011-12 to 2018-19 across 18 states. This enhanced the productivity of milch animals and provided market access to milk producers.

The next phase of NDP is likely to get approval by next year. We have conducted discussions with the World Bank team and we have submitted detailed projects to the government. As of now, the project cost is around Rs 1,400 crore out of which Rs 1,200 crore would be the grant component. As total outlay is less compared to NDP-I, we will not be able to cover the states.

The World Bank is keen to work in a focussed manner rather than spreading it across the country. We are thinking of covering about six states — Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Sikkim.

The project would support increasing fodder production and it would support ethnoveterinary medicine to take care of antimicrobial resistance issues amongst the animals.

Amul entry into organic foods to aid farmers & consumers; help govt save on fertiliser subsidies

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What is happening in the dairy market? We have seen massive inflation, we have seen a big spike in collection costs, has everything been neutralised now?

If you are talking about inflation in food or dairy, there is a difference. In the whole food basket, the dairy segment has seen the minimum price increase in inflation. In any other food; pulses, fruits, vegetables, edible oil, meat and poultry, inflation is around 10 to 30-40-50%. In India, dairy is in the hands of the cooperatives and they are very responsive to consumers’ reactions.

Minimum inflation in dairy in the last one and a half years is 14-15%. We feel demand for dairy, especially packed food products, is still growing much faster than others and I do not think there is any chance of a reduction in any of the dairy product prices because we have not gone up to that level.

Input costs definitely were increasing in the last two, three years but now for the last one month, the cost of feed ingredients have more or less stabilised or may have gone down a little because of other commodity prices going down. I see stability in the dairy prices and the market. There may be a small increase but the situation is tight in dairy supply because demand is much more than what the organised sector is able to meet. The pre Covid level was much higher than the pre Covid level. It is good for the long term of the dairy industry and for farmers as well as consumers like you.

Consumers like me were a little worried 10 days ago when there was a shortage of butter!

We had a short supply of butter and fat around Diwali maximum because demand increased tremendously due to festivals and marriages. Out of home and home consumption showed that increase in milk supply is slightly less than the previous year and naturally fat shortage was there. We could not meet the market demand and that is why people missed Amul butter.

The farmers did not ask for an increase in prices despite demand being high. We have not increased the price of fat or butter by a single paisa.

While the rest of the soft commodities have seen a fall in prices, dairy prices are continuing to be on an uptick?

No, no, no. I do not think so. It is less than general inflation in retail and prices will definitely have to go up only because farmers also expect their income to increase and that will increase only if their produce price increases. But I can assure you that price increase in dairy will be lower than food inflation.

I also understand that you are now looking at entering into organic wholewheat atta as well. That is a very interesting diversification!

Yes, we have already launched about eight to nine organic products including wholewheat atta and the reason is simple. I was reading in the newspaper that last year, the Government of India had to give Rs 1,50,000 crore subsidies on chemical fertilisers. So basically to feed us chemical food, we are giving subsidies. The Government of India, especially the honourable home minister, has taken on the task that we have to increase the organic products production and linking it to consumers because while consumers want pesticide free natural food, farmers also want to produce it because they will get 10-20% more realisation.

What is missing is the linkage and the trust among the consumers for the available organic products. Amul, being a very trustworthy and widely available brand is also owned by the farmers. We have taken this initiative to help small farmers, FPOs, cooperatives and small artisan cooperatives so that their organic produce can be linked with consumers and marketed all over India.

The initiative has began because see organic products is not a simple you have to do certification of land, the produce, and lot of other formalities involved so we are putting lot of testing laboratories across India as well so serving the market contracting already FPOs and cooperatives were in the organic produce market and working on and gradually it will expand and I hope consumer and farmers will get the benefit.

Going back to butter shortage. We have heard from the B2B customers and they are on record these are large restaurant and hotel chains have switched to non-Amul brands like Nandini Ghee etc. Is this temporary? How are you going to win back these business customers?

There is nothing wrong if consumers have shifted to other cooperatives or other brands of butter because right now Amul is not able to meet the demand. Today we are supplying butter or other products more than the average. It is a consumer choice and there is enough room for everybody – Amul, Nandini, Aavin, Verka, Mother Dairy. There is enough room because only one-third market is an organised market and all have come out of Amul only. I do not consider any of these brands as our competition. We are complementing each other’s efforts and that effort is providing a very stable remunerative price to the dairy producer and providing consumer good products at a very affordable price for market growth so it is better, it is good.

Can I ask you because I love the way you said you do not consider them to be competition. Who says you are Amul’s competitors?

The competition for Amul is not the dairy companies because they are in the pure category. Competition for dairy is from fake chemical products, competition for dairy is the very very wrong propaganda by vested interest to harm on one hand the interest of the farmers and on the other side, providing consumers with fake factory manufactured food products.

This interview was conducted by The Economic Times. Published on 13th December 2022

No plan to merge Amul with 5 other cooperatives: Sodhi

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This is the third hike in the fresh milk prices this calendar year itself. What trajectory can we expect with milk prices going forward because we are hoping that perhaps this is the end of the up cycle and there will be some cuts coming in later. What is your view?

The price hike of Rs 2 a litre is only for the high end full cream milk. People mostly consume Taaza Toned or Cow where we have not increased the price. You are asking about price trajectory, let me give you some data.

In the last one year, MRP increase has been only 9% in all varieties except full cream where it is 12% to 13% vis-à-vis price paid to the farmers have increased by 15%. If you compare the input cost increase, dry fodder cost has increased by more than 60-70%, green fodder by 40-50% and cattle feed price has increased by 20-22%. We have reached farmers earn more so that they can feed more to their animals. Now we could increase only 15% of the cost procurement price to the farmer, they need more.

What is happening to demand sentiment on ground given that inflation has been pinching everyone’s pocket? Do you think a price hike at this time would further impair demand?

I have been in this industry for the last 40 years and the volume growth which we are getting in the first six months is unprecedented. It is a double digit volume growth across all categories. In the first six months, our turnover has increased around 32% and the price increase is because we started late. The impact is only 8% to 9% and so the balance 20-22% increase has come because we started late. The impact is only 8 – 9% and so the balance 20-22% increase has come because of volume and it is not with Amul.

I have checked with everybody, everybody is selling more. The reason is simple, consumers have realised during Covid that they want more nutritious food, pure natural food but from affordable brands. That is why the brands which are available and are trustworthy are selling more.

Farmers are definitely under pressure because of the increase in cost of feed and input prices and in the last two years during Covid, the feed cost has increased. At that time also we could not increase the price of milk. You may be comparing the increased price of milk in the last one year but in the last three years, prices have increased 6-7% or even less than that. So farmers are under pressure. I feel with the coming time, farmers are going to benefit from this increased affordability of consumers to pay for milk or any other food prices.

What about the festive demand versus what you saw pre-Covid? How is it across all segments and geographies?

Festive demand is tremendous. During any festival in India, demand for milk or milk products used to increase but if it used to increase by x, this time it is 2x. The reason is simple. In the last two or three years, we could not celebrate Diwali, Dussehra or other festivities. Now it has come after three years and so people are spending more, buying more, enjoying more.

Similarly, out of home consumption or HORECA consumption is also now much more than pre-Covid times. We are seeing tremendous demand from parties. So demand from consumers, HORECA segment and consumption itself – have increased and that is giving the volume growth.

Could you give us some details in terms of how the rural versus urban demand sentiment is panning out?

Nowadays, in packed food items which are affordable and common man, I do not think you can differentiate the urban and rural. In a lot of rural areas, milk is also consumed packed. The increase in demand is very good but one trend which we have noticed is that volume growth is coming more from tier-2 and tier-3 cities, semi rural or rural areas more because there is the shift from unorganised or unbranded to branded is maximum.

How is the performance of the chocolate segment going? What kind of growth are you seeing?

No doubt, dairy is growing across all the categories but new areas where shift has recently taken place from unbranded to branded is one is the sweets, then paneer and also cream, where we are finding tremendous growth.

I think Indian sweets is going to get tremendous growth not only on a volume basis but also overall proportion to the other businesses.

Coming to non-dairy segment we have entered a number of segments like frozen potato, French fries and a lot of other potato based or dairy based ready to eats. We have just put up a new plant and it already at 100% capacity. For chocolates, we put up a very modern, very big plant three years back thinking we will utilise the capacity in the next five, six years but already that capacity is over. Now we are doubling the capacity because in chocolates we are basically in the very niche segment of high cocoa content chocolates which are called dark chocolates. Consumers especially the teenagers and elders are shifting towards the high cocoa content chocolate.

We understand from reports that Amul will be merged with five other cooperative societies to form a multi state cooperative society. What is the update on this front and how will it impact business?

No, no, I think that some reporter has misreported. There is no such talk of Amul merging with any other cooperatives. There is no such initiative, talk or anything. Rather Amul along with four, five other cooperatives are joining hands to float a new multi-state cooperative to sell organic products or some other export but that is going to be a different cooperative. It is like Amul investing in some other organisation where we find our purposes common with other cooperatives.

This interview was conducted by The Economic Times. Published on 19th October 2022


Interview: Komal Anand, Managing Director, Havmor Ice Cream

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As the ice cream sector navigated a challenging terrain over the past couple of years, Lotte Confectionery’s Havmor Ice Cream focussed on e-commerce and innovation to stay afloat. Komal Anand talks to Christina Moniz about the brand’s efforts to achieve the Rs 1,000 crore revenue target, supply chain and delivery challenges in the home delivery of ice cream, and more.

The pandemic has been tough on the ice cream sector, with two peak summer seasons being hit. What kind of business shifts did Havmor make to sustain in these times?

The year 2020 was perhaps the toughest for the industry. Before Covid-19, we didn’t really focus much on the e-commerce channel, unlike other FMCG companies. Over the past two years, we really stepped up our engagement and presence on e-commerce. We have strengthened our product range during this time. In 2021, we launched the World Cone, a global bestseller from Korea. However, we also had to let go of some of our ice cream outlets during the pandemic, especially those in premium locations like airports.

There have been ups and downs in the past couple of years, but we have been one of the few fortunate ice-cream brands in the country to have survived. We are back on track, but like most businesses, we are about a year behind in the journey towards our ambitions.

Given the increase in at-home consumption, how are you tackling supply chain and last-mile delivery challenges?

We have used our network of more than 230 ice cream parlours, in addition to distributors, for last-mile delivery. We have seen exponential growth through food aggregators, compared to the traditional retail channel. We are also partnering
with several dark kitchens, since the at-home consumption trend is definitely here to stay.

All our distribution partners — Big Basket, JioMart and Amazon — are investing time and money in strengthening the backend to service the consumer. Havmor, too, had launched ice cream cakes some years ago, which we deliver in a special box that retains the product’s temperature for 60-90 minutes during delivery. Yes, the cost in maintaining temperature is high, but we are clear that we want to spend in order to grow the category. The ice cream category in India is estimated to be worth Rs 18,000 crore, and the consumption opportunity is very large. To put this in perspective: we are at just about 25% of the per capita consumption of a market like China. There is, therefore, massive headroom for growth.

Until three years ago, Havmor was well on track to reach the Rs 1,000 crore revenue mark by 2020. How close are you to that target?

We definitely expect to see strong, double-digit growth this year. In fact, we have consistently been growing at double digits annually, barring 2020. So, we will get to the Rs 1,000 crore target very soon.

Havmor recently partnered with ITC to sell Master Chef’s range of frozen snacks. What are your growth expectations from this tie-up?

The partnership with ITC Master Chef was to permit the brand to use about 100 of Havmor’s mobile carts in Delhi-NCR. Fried snacks tend to see higher demand during the winter months, while ice cream sales tend to increase in the summer months. Havmor’s carts are manned by operators, who go back to their villages in the winter months because there isn’t much business for them. So, this was an experiment during winter that worked for both ITC, to drive up distribution and visibility, and for our vendors. In March, we will use the carts once again for Havmor’s products. Nonetheless, the two companies will review if there is merit in scaling up this experiment next year.

Are you looking at expanding your footprint to the rural markets?

The consumption opportunity is large in the metros and tier I markets, and that’s where the focus will continue. Given the supply chain issues in ice cream right now, it will take some time for us to get into the rural markets. This year, the plan is to invest in our stronger markets in the West and North. We have also started incubating cities in the South and East.


This interview was conducted by Christina Moniz for The Financial Express. Published on 4th March 2022

Here’s how Britannia is strengthening its Dairy portfolio

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India’s cheese market is at a relatively nascent stage when compared to global markets but it is a segment that presents a lot of opportunities. Since the pandemic when people were stuck at home, there was an increase in people experimenting with cooking and owing to the role cheese plays in a lot of global cuisines, there was a surge in demand of cheese worldwide, according to reports.

Closer home, Britannia Cheese quickly recognized the opportunity and strengthened its digital marketing strategy to make the most of this surge in demand. In fact, in the financial year 2020-21, Britannia Cheese delivered sales of over Rs 230 crore.

Owing to the growth in demand, the brand also released a campaign recently which was aimed at raising awareness about the role the brand can play if included in children’s everyday diet.

Q) You have recently released a campaign for Britannia Cheese where you talk about the importance of consumption of good quality proteins for young adults. Tell us a bit more

Our new campaign for Britannia Cheese aims to educate the audiences about its protein-rich qualities. Proteins are by far one of the most important macro nutrients that should be a part of a healthy diet. The campaign aims to raise awareness about the role Britannia Cheese plays as a part of children’s nutrition and encourages parents to include it as a rich and delicious source of good quality protein in their children’s diet. With 2 slices of Britannia Cheese that is made from 100% cow’s milk, children will be able to get the same amount of protein as 1 glass of milk or 35 gms of paneer.

Q) India is still a young market for cheese. Since your campaign is talking about including cheese in children’s diet, how are you convincing parents it’s a healthy option?

When we started our background work, our starting point was that Britannia Cheese had considerably less amount of fat when compared to our butter. Categories like butter are familiar to us and a part of our daily diet, while cheese is a relatively modern option and hence unfamiliar category for Indian population.

Moreover, we also found that 4 out of 5 Indians don’t consume adequate amounts of good quality protein that comes from cow’s milk. Britannia Cheese which is made of cow’s milk is one of the richest vegetarian sources of good quality protein. Also, cheese is a major source of Calcium, Phosphorous and Vitamin A and hence a valuable addition to a healthy and balanced diet.

Q) How big is India’s cheese market? What is Britannia’s market share in the category?

As per IMAC Data, the Cheese category was Rs 3100 crore category in 2018 with 40% of the market coming from Retail sales and 60% of the market from institutional sales. In the financial year 2020-21, Britannia Cheese delivered sales of over Rs 230 crore and as per internal estimates, is the second largest player in Retail Cheese in the country.

Q) What sort of growth has Britannia’s dairy and cheese category witnessed in the last few years? What are a few factors that have helped achieve this growth?

The financial year 2020-21 saw Britannia Cheese growing at 30% on the back of lockdowns and consumers shifting their consumption from out-of-home to in-home. The growth in the first half of the year was somewhat subdued owing to the large bases of the previous year, however the growth for Britannia and the category has come back in the second half of this year. While Britannia remains strong across top metros and modern trade stores, our key growth markets in recent times have been the next 20 towns beyond the top 8 metros and e-commerce.

During and post the pandemic, we realized that the cheese category in Tier II towns has started outpacing the grown in metros and we are looking at growing our distribution in these markets significantly this year. Further the e-commerce business for cheese has been growing at a CAGR of 100% for the last 2 years and we expect to continue the momentum in the coming year as well.

Q) Being one of the top players currently, what sort of innovations are you bringing about in the category? Are you also looking at focusing on gourmet/premium cheese offerings?

One of the keys towards being India’s largest bakery foods company and one of the most trusted brands is the strength of our R&D function in driving product innovations. The Dairy portfolio is also key in our vision of making Britannia a global Total Foods Company. One of the focus of our investments in the Ranjangoan unit would also be to build a world class R&D facility. This will enable us to develop and grow the Indian Value-Added Dairy category.

In the vision for Dairy, we see ourselves as a Leader in the Value-Added Dairy category which we shall achieve by bringing world-class product experiences to consumers at prices that are competitive and yet create margins for investment into the growth of such experiences.

Some of the opportunities in Cheese that we would be keen to explore would be to grow the nascent Cheese Snacking category which is very large in western markets. Our back-end competency would also enable us to become a preferred supplier of cheese to hotels, restaurants, QSRs and cafeterias. We would also seek to grow nascent categories like spreads, cream cheese and Mozzarella cheese.

Meanwhile, other avenues for innovation that we have outlined lie in the Value-Added Drinks and Yogurts categories through a portfolio expansion for Winkin Cow and our Fresh Business.

Q) Globally as well as in India, a lot of people are moving away from animal-based foods… What do you think the future of the Dairy category looks like in India?

Today we see a large global recognition of the fact that our diets are high in carbohydrates but poor in protein and hence there is a move towards new sources of Protein to be added to our diets. In fact even in India there is a recognition of the fact that 4 out of every 5 Indians don’t consumer adequate amounts of good quality protein in their diet. This recognition is also fuelling the growth of the Dairy Category in the country and hence we see significant growth of categories like Cheese, Value Added Dairy Drinks and Value Added Yogurts. We are extremely bullish about the prospects of the category and hence have invested close to Rs 600 crore in our backward integrated dairy plant at Ranjangoan.

Q) What is your focus going to be in terms of marketing your products? What is your target for FY 22-23?

We expect FY 22-23 to be an exciting year for Britannia Dairy as this is the year we start manufacturing our own products. We would aspire to grow our business in high double digits led by Cheese, Dairy Drinks and the Fresh portfolio.

We have embarked onto a powerful Brand Campaign for Britannia Cheese build on bridging the Protein gap for Indians. This message is being spread through a 3-month Brand Power TVC in mass media across India. We are also investing in digital initiatives for the savvy metro consumer. For Tier II and III towns, we will also be investing in OOH to take the message far and wide. We are also investing robustly in Modern Trade Visibility and across E-commerce platforms.

We are also extremely bullish on Winkin Cow, our Dairy Drinks brand. We have regularly invested in advertising for the brand and next year, we plan to extend our offerings to various segments of the Dairy Drinks category, from affordable SKUs to premium and indulgent experiences.

Lastly, the Dairy Factory will allow us to incubate Maharashtra as a market to build a robust fresh dairy portfolio.


This interview was conducted by Samarpita Banerjee for Business Insider India. Published on 9th February 2022

Cooperative sector is best model for Bharat’s growth: R.S. Sodhi

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Q. What are Amul’s expansion plans?

Ans. Amul’s expansion plans are based on how much milk we will be getting. Generally, every year there is an expansion by Rs 800 crore to Rs 1,000 crore. We are getting 9 per cent more milk, which means 25 lakh litres. That means an investment of Rs 1,000 crore. We are investing in Gujarat and outside in various product categories.

We are expanding in fresh products (milk, curd and butter milk). A Rs 500 crore dairy is coming up in Rajkot; land is being allocated by the state. Within two years, big dairy plants will also come up in Bagpat, near Delhi, Varanasi, Rohtak and Kolkata. The total investment would be between Rs 300 crore and Rs 500 crore.

We are also eyeing Rs 1,000 crore in exports. Amul exports to some 55 countries, though mainly to neighboring countries.

Q. What are the new technologies Amul is introducing?

Ans. In milk production, we recently introduced two new technologies and these are doing really well. One is sorted sex semen, which leads to 95 per cent of calves born being female. The technology is subsidised (70% to 80%) for farmers. Second is embryo transplant, which helps to multiply the numbers (of high-yielding cows). Usually, a cow will deliver only one calf in a year. Using embryo transplant, 100 to 150 calves can (come from the same cow) every year, as the embryo can be transplanted into a non-productive cow as well. The calf will have the genes of a good bull.

Milking machines are now being used more. Each machine costs Rs50,000. As not all farmers can afford it, we have mobile machines.

For milk collection, we are working on solar-powered bulk milk coolers. Also, our tankers can measure fat and other parameters and feed it into the system even as the milk is pumped into the tanker. This ensures that nobody tampers with the quantity and quality of milk.

We recently built Asia’s biggest milk powder plant. We are also working on a technology which can store perishable sweets like barfi and kalakand for up to 45 days.

Q. What are the new products in the pipeline?

Ans. New variants in butter and cheese, and we are investing a lot in Indian traditional fresh sweets. We want to make these products and fresh paneer in plants closer to consumption areas, and not centrally in Gujarat.

We are working on high protein dairy products. We will be adding more markets for products like atta (flour) and honey. Bakery, frozen fruits and vegetables are other areas we are expanding to.

Q. There is buzz about organic and healthy food.

Ans. It is a growing category; at the moment, it is very niche, small and scattered. In dairy, we can definitely work. But in fruits and vegetables, we will have to get into the main category first and then organic. India’s organic market is Rs 4,000 crore to Rs 5,000 crore a year.

In the fruits and vegetables category, we will add organic. The planning is on and it should happen in a year. We have forward distribution in the market, unlike others. We also have a pan-India frozen chain. No other company has this advantage.

Q. What are the key challenges before Amul?

Ans. As such, Amul and the dairy industry have the same challenge—how to increase productivity of animals to decrease the price of milk. The price of milk is increasing, but we have to ensure that milk and milk products are reasonably priced so that consumption increases. It is about meeting these two diagonally opposite demands by making the supply chain more efficient.

Another challenge is dissuading the government from entering into free trade agreements for the import of dairy products, as this will harm the interest of dairy farmers. Till now, the government has responded favorably.

Another challenge is the propaganda by vested interests against milk, which is a universally accepted super food and healthy product. PETA and other groups are unleashing false propaganda. In some countries, there are vested interests who do not want India to become a big force in the dairy industry.

The whole world is surprised by how well India is doing. This is providing very good income for farmers in rural areas. There are 10 crore farmers (families) in animal husbandry in India and Amul has 3.6 crore farmers (families) under its fold.

Another challenge is keeping Amul a contemporary, modern food brand for youngsters and villages. It is the only food brand that is accepted by all age groups, income brackets, geography, castes and religions. It is about keeping this image of the brand intact. The brand has to be modern, contemporary and innovative. It is not easy. Any decision you take, be it packaging, technology, pricing or policies, you have to see that in no way is it harming that image.

Q. How do you see the competition from private dairies?

Ans. Liberalisation happened in 1991. Many dairies have come up, many have survived and many have closed down. There is scope for everybody. In India, the dairy sector is worth Rs 9 lakh crore and the organised sector is worth Rs 3 lakh crore. In another decade, the organised sector can be worth Rs 10 lakh crore.

Competition will bring in more transparency, better prices for the farmers and better products. It will also help us to continue to work in supply chain innovation and expansion.

Q. Is Amul helping others set up cooperatives?

Ans. Cooperatives command 60 per cent market share in India. And all have come out of the knowledge and experience of Amul. This has been happening since Dr Verghese Kurien formed the National Dairy Development Board in 1965 to replicate the Amul model through it.

In 2010, we decided to increase our milk procurement from outside Gujarat. So, we get milk from other states, including the northeast. We are helping cooperative sectors. For example, we are promoting the Jammu and Kashmir Milk Producers Union. It is now a Rs 300 crore industry. We are also helping Andhra Pradesh to set up a cooperative.

Q. Union Cooperation Minister Amit Shah said he had a lot of expectations from Amul.

Ans. This is because, if India has to grow Bharat has to grow. Bharat means small workers and small farmers. For this, the cooperative sector is the best model in which they are not exploited by middlemen.

Cooperative is the way of doing small business by small people, through small people. India is a country of small farmers, entrepreneurs, retailers and consumers. And only cooperatives can take care of these segments.

Cooperatives are the only way to distribute wealth and remove income disparity. I think the government has realised this, and Amul is the time-tested, profitable, well-recognised model that the government would like to replicate.

The week interview with R S Sodhi by Nandini Oza, Jan 9 2022


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