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“We are in firefighting mode”

As India battens the hatches to battle COVID-19, Amul’s foot soldiers are marching lockstep to ensure dairy farmers and consumers stay unaffected

The background score is a screeching one, increasing in pitch, and the door of your kitchen cupboard creaks as you open it. You stagger back in disbelief. There is no milk, for your morning cup of tea (or coffee). It is the nightmare that haunted everyone when the unprecedented three-week lock-down (till April 15) was announced. So imagine the relief when the government clarified that essentials, including milk and milk products would continue to remain available. (Insert GIF of Nirupa Roy crying tears of joy.)

But to make this possible is easier said than done. Milk producers and distributors have to ensure complete sanitisation during the milk procurement, even while tackling inter-state distribution challenges. As dairy players pullout all stops, Outlook Business caught up with India’s largest dairy player, Gujarat Co-Operative Milk Marketing Federation’s (which owns the brand Amul) MD, RS Sodhi, to understand how they are tackling supply challenges and meeting fluctuating demand including panic-buying.

Is Amul equipped to sail through the crisis?

We are in firefighting mode currently! We procure milk from 3.6 million farmers every day. Our work starts from the production stage. Then, the milk is transported to the nearest chilling station or dairy for processing, which is later shipped across India. It is an efficient supply chain. As and when problems crop up, we iron them out.

What are the issues you have been facing?

After the government announced the lockdown, there was some confusion over what qualifies as essential services and what doesn’t. They are allowing movement of trucks with goods. But what about an empty truck that has delivered the goods and is returning? The authorities are not letting them through yet. Packaging is a bigger problem. They have allowed food and manufacturing plants to functio

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