Amul’s Sodhi draws out blueprint for India’s desire to become global dairy hub

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Photo by Saif Rahman on Unsplash

Amul, the pioneer of India’s white revolution, is eyeing an opportunity to turn the country into a global dairy hub.

Already accounting for a fifth of the world’s milk output, the country’s share is set to grow to about a third, said Amul’s Managing Director R.S. Sodhi.

“In dairy, we have lot of export potential because most of the countries around India are milk deficient,” he told the annual Food World India summit, adding that the industry’s revenues would likely double to $200 billion in a decade.

None of the countries in South Asia, Southeast Asia or the Middle East, or even China, produced enough milk to meet their domestic needs.

R.S. Sodhi, Managing Director, Amul

“We have to see how we can reach to these countries and that is where our policymakers have to take the initiative,” Sodhi said, pointing out that the world’s 10-biggest dairy importing countries don’t allow imports from India even after paying full duty.

He said that even Malaysia and Indonesia, which exports edible oil worth around $10 billion to India annually, didn’t allow dairy imports from India.  

“When they come to us to seek duty reduction on edible oils, why don’t we say please allow dairy exports from India. They allow exports from other dairy-rich countries,” Sodhi said.

“Our policymakers have to negotiate for access to food markets and not just for IT (Information Technology).”

While Indian products are costlier than those of dairy-rich nations like Australia, New Zealand and the United States because most Indian farmers owned only 2-3 animals and therefore lacked the scale of their counterparts in developed nations, Sodhi said India has the opportunity to develop a unique niche.

He highlighted that 58% of India’s milk production are from buffaloes and not cows, which meant the milk texture was different and could be marketed differently.

“The mozzarella cheese produced from buffaloes are whiter and tastier and it is a differentiated product. But you have to build this product from zero because world over Indian mozzarella cheese does not exist,” he said, adding that government policy support will be needed for at least five years to develop a global presence.

Sodhi said the supply chain will also need to be developed so that the milk from cows and buffaloes are kept separately instead of being mixed.

India had recently launched a production linked incentive programme including for food processing among 10 other sectors to develop them into globally competitive industries. Sodhi said that the industry should work with the government to realise its global potential.  

Biman Mukherji is a columnist and consulting editor at Indoasiancommodities.com. He has worked for international news organisations such as Reuters, The Wall Street Journal as well as for newspapers like The Times of India. He can be reached at biman.mukherji@indoasiancommodities.in

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