Thursday, June 9, 2011

Amul and The White Revolution in India

The first brand that I noticed right after coming here was the butter called Amul. The hotel where we were staying had a complementary breakfast, and there it was in a cute package with a cute girl on it. It immediately caught my attention.

Did you know that India is one of the largest producer of milk and milk products in the world? Yep, there are lots of cows walking down the street everywhere. No, no, that's not the reason. It was because of The White Revolution in India (a.k.a. Operation Flood).

Amul, which apparently stands for Anand Milk Union Limited, based in Anand (obviously), was formed in 1946. It is the largest food brand in India now, and its success was pretty much backed up by The White Revolution.

Patel and Gandhi in 1940
(photo from Wikimedia Commons) 
Here is the short story of The White Revolution. Back in 1940's, there was an unfair and monopolized trading of milk by Polson Daily in Anand. So, the angered farmers led by Tribhuvandas Patel went to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (a.k.a. "Iron man of India"), who became Deputy Prime Minister of India and was the last person to have a private talk with Gandhi before he was assassinated. Anyway, it was Sardar Patel who advised the farmers and Tribhuvandas Patel to form a Cooperative and supply milk directly to the Bombay Milk Scheme instead of selling it to Polson who took a huge margin leaving little money to the farmers. He had Morarji Desai, who later became the prime minister of India, organize the farmers. And the Kaira District Co-operative Milk Producers' Union was formed. The success of the dairy co-operative movement spread rapidly in the surrounding regions, and soon after five other unions were organized. In order to combine forces and expand the market and to avoid the situation of competing against each other,  an apex marketing body of dairy cooperative unions called the Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) was formed in 1973. Amul, the brand the Kaira District Co-operative Milk Producers’ Union had established back in 1955, was handed over tto GCMMF (AMUL).

Anyway, Amul seems to have a very interesting three-tier operation model: 1) village level (milk collection), 2) district level (milk procurement & processing), and 3) state level (product and marketing).  And, it was also made into a movie called Manthan in 1976. Amul is not just a butter company, it carries the Indian history. Truely amazing story!

Btw, the cartoon character of a cute girl that caught my eyes immediately is called "Amul Baby." She has been a mascot character for Amul since 1966!

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