It's a competition of the co-operatives that are not exactly co-operating with each other any more.
Delhi-based Mother Dairy is stepping out of its comfort zone to take on established national milk-product leader Amul - owned by the Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) — in the dairy foods segment.Both brands come from the stable of the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), headed by chairperson Amrita Patel, who was considered a protege of former GCMMF chairman Verghese Kurien until the two business leaders had a public fallout in 2003 in a power struggle.
Mother Dairy has been the National Capital Region's chief milkman for decades now. Of its R5,500 crore sales, milk products constitute only 10%. Its rivals include multinationals Britannia, Nestle and Unilever, but the main tussle is with Amul, which it is taking on in Maharashtra and 12 new markets where it will make its debut soon.
“We are now looking at panning out to have a national footprint by 2013,” Subhashis Basu, Mother Dairy’s business head for dairy products, told Hindustan Times.
“While the competition is intense, the scope of growth is immense. We have got it right in Delhi and we can replicate the success in other markets too. Our immediate focus is to enter 12 new markets including Nagpur, Hyderabad, Bhubaneshwar, Bhopal, Chennai and others,” said Basu.
Milk-based foods, which include ice cream, cheese, probiotic drinks, yoghurt, curd and sweet curd are said to be growing at annual rate of 35%. Mother Dairy aims to double its sales in the segment by 2015.
In pipeline are plans to set up a facility in Bengal to manufacture curd, yoghurts, butter, cheese and ice-cream to cater to the eastern market.
Mother Dairy is also scouting for locations to set up a similar facility in southern India where it is expected to choose between Vellore and Hyderabad to serve the zonal market.
Milk foods make up a hot segment that makes up fort 35% of the total packaged food industry in India. Curd alone is estimated to be a R15,000 crore market, with the organised sector accounting for only 10%. The organised cheese market is pegged at R5,000 crore.
“As consumers move from loose products to branded packaged foods, the demand for established dairy food brands is increasing,” said RS Sodhi, managing director, GCMMF. “Depending upon the category the growth is anywhere between 5-16% on an annual basis.”