Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF), which markets the popular Amul brand of milk and dairy products, crossed a landmark by netting total business of 2 billion dollar during 2010-11.
Consistent high growth was also reflected in the sale of Amul Butter, Milk, Processed Cheese, Flavoured milk, Buttermilk and Lassi. In the Infant Milk Food category, their brand Amulspray registered growth of 20 per cent and achieved the unique distinction of becoming a Rs 1,000 crore mega-brand.
Amul is not just “the taste of India”. It has come a long way from its humble beginning as a village cooperative society, to becoming the pride of India.
Over four decades ago, the life of a farmer in Kaira District in Gujarat where Amul began its operations, was very much like his counterpart anywhere else in India. His income was derived almost entirely from seasonal crops. The income from milch buffaloes was undependable. The marketing and distribution system for milk was controlled by private traders and middlemen.
As milk is perishable, farmers were compelled to sell it for whatever they were offered. Often, they had to sell cream and ghee at throwaway prices. In this situation, the only one who gained was the private trader. Gradually, the realization dawned on the farmers that the exploitation by the trader could be checked only if they marketed their milk themselves. In order to do that they needed to form some sort of an organization.
This realization is what led to the establishment of the Kaira District Cooperative Milk Producers’ Union Limited (popularly known as Amul) which was formally registered on December 14, 1946. No one knew then that this small realization had the power to create a multi billion dollar business.
The success of the dairy co-operative movement spread rapidly in Gujarat. Within a short span five other district unions – Mehsana, Banaskantha, Baroda, Sabarkantha and Surat were organized. In order to combine forces and expand the market while saving on advertising and avoiding a situation where milk cooperatives would compete against each other, it was decided to set up an apex marketing body of dairy cooperative unions in Gujarat.
Thus, in 1973, the Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation was established. The Kaira District Co-operative Milk Producers’ Union Ltd. which had established the brand name Amul in 1955 decided to hand over the brand name to GCMMF (AMUL).
Amul is now the largest food brand in India and world’s Largest Pouched Milk Brand. Besides India, Amul has entered overseas markets such as Mauritius, UAE, USA, Bangladesh, Australia, China, Singapore, Hong Kong and a few South African countries.
Even today, the entire operation is majorly handled by farmers and people who have grown from within the organization. And as often said, Amul doesn’t just reflect a Milk Cooperative Society. It is the dream of hundreds of farmers of Gujarat who saw a way to change their plight and persevered to make their dream come true. The 2 bn dollar milestone is just an indication that there is more to come from Amul in the coming years.
The success story of Amul is yet another example of how co-operatives can benefit rural economies. We also need to understand the power of the combined might of the rural mass in India and leverage it subsequently for their benefit.