The limited supply of five popular brands —Amul, Gokul, Mother Dairy, Mahanand and Warana — in various parts of Mumbai over the past two days forced the consumers to opt for lesser-known brands.
The retailers’ stand of restricting the sale of the brands is a result of the legal metrology organisation’s crackdown on overcharging for milk packets. Blaming the low margin offered by them, the retailers decided to stop the sale of these brands. Although the decision has been deferred for 10-12 days, some retailers in the city have curtailed the supply.
“For the past two days, I have not been getting Gokul, Amul or Mahanand milk in my area. We have been buying milk packets bearing brand names that we have never heard of,” said Sumita Joshi, a Parel resident.
As a counter to the retailers’ plan, the organisation, which comes under the ministry of food, civil supplies and consumer protection, had asked the dairy development department to allow the sale of products from other milk cooperatives products at the 1,800 Aarey stalls across the city. However, the department is yet to respond to the idea, which is being made by activists for long, to give consumers more options, and the authorities more power to prevent overcharging and adulteration.
Mahesh Pathak, secretary, animal husbandry and dairy development department, said, “The decision can only be taken by the dairy development commissioner.”
While, the dairy development officials confirmed that they have received the letter, it will now be sent to the government.
Shirish Deshpande, chairman, Mumbai Grahak Panchayat, said, “The dairy development department should have taken the step long ago. The government body needs to stop restrictive practices [selling only one brand at a stall], which violate the consumer’s right to choice.”
“Milk companies cannot have separate milk booths because of space crunch. So, the state should allow them to use the existing infrastructure. This is in the interest of consumers,” said Shubhada Chaukar, consumer activist.
Welcoming the move, an official from Amul said, “We will start our supply at Aarey milk outlets.”