Amul targets niche market with camel milk, honey

Niche products currently make up less than 1% of its Rs 23,000 cr turnover; Amul plans to take that up to 5% in five years

Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF), which makes and markets Amul brand, is focusing its energies on niche products like A2 milk (marketed under Amul Deshi brand), honey, frozen sweets and camel milk.

While these niche products currently make up for less than one per cent of the dairy giant’s Rs 23,000-crore turnover, the federation targets to take that share up to five per cent in the next five years.

R S Sodhi, managing director of GCMMF said they were piloting the Amul Deshi A2 cow milk in Ahmedabad, as procurement of such milk was still a challenge. “We have started on a pilot basis with farmers from 15-20 villages who supply to the Banas dairy. This would essentially mean a few thousand farmers only. Therefore, we would slowly expand to other parts,” he explained. The milk is from the indigenous Kankrej breed, Sodhi added.

Amul Deshi’ A2 Cow Milk would be targeted to a niche market comprising health-conscious consumers who are seeking nutritional cow milk from indigenous cow breeds. The product was unveiled at a farmers’ rally at Deesa in Banaskantha district by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week.

The milk has been priced at Rs 70 a litre and will be available in 500 ml pet bottles at Amul parlours. The federation aims to sell 10,000 litres per day within a month of launch.

Interestingly, Casein is the largest group of proteins in milk, making up about 80 per cent of the total protein content. A1 and A2 beta-casein are genetic variants of the beta-casein milk protein that differ by one amino acid.

The A1 beta-casein type is the most common type found in cow’s milk in Europe (excluding France), the US, Australia and New Zealand. A1 is a mutated beta-casein protein found in milk. It is believed that the mutated gene started in the Holstein cow breed hundreds of years ago, but has been passed to many other breeds because the Holstein cow has been used to “improve” the production of almost all breeds. Milk from pure Indigenous cow and buffalo breeds has A2 beta casein.

A2 is actually a beta-casein protein in the milk, A2 allele gene, that makes milk healthy and nutritious. Simply put, it is a particular character in some cow breeds that makes it milk qualitatively superior that regular milk.

This apart, Amul has also started promoting honey cultivation among its farmers, starting with Banas. The projects, however, are yet to gather scale.

Meanwhile, the federation has also recently received nod from the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to market camel milk. Kutch based Sarhad Dairy is already in the process of setting up camel milk processing plant which is likely to be operational by March 2017 and will be marketed by Amul.

Initially, Sarhad dairy would be procuring and processing about 2,000 liters camel milk per day which would be ramped up based on demand to 10,000 liters a day.

GCMMF is as such India’s largest food products marketing organisation. It registered a 67 per cent rise in its turnover to Rs 23,004 crore during FY16. It has, in fact, grown by 187 per cent in the past six years, which implies a cumulative average growth rate of 19.2 per cent during the period. The group turnover of GCMMF and its constituent member unions, representing unduplicated turnover of all products sold under Amul brand was Rs 33,000 crore or $ 5 billion.