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Amul set to make Indian brand global New Delhi:

India's largest dairy brand Amul would soon be seen on the shelves of leading international stores like Wal-Mart and Mustafa in Singapore after its successful foray into the United Arab Emirates (UAE). "We are expanding outside to test our quality and face competition, while going ahead with plans to spread across the country to pre-empt any foreign competition," said B.M. Vyas, managing director of Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF), India's largest dairy cooperative. GCMMF's Amul has been recording 20 percent annual growth in overseas markets largely through supermarkets and chain store sales. Though Amul products have been selling in the US since 1998, "we are in discussion with Wal-Mart to have a separate counter for stocking and selling our products. We also have an arrangement with Mustafa supermarket chain in Singapore, Lanka Milk Foods (CWE) Ltd and John Keels chain in Sri Lanka, as also Choithram, Carrefour and Lulu chains in the UAE," said Vyas. Amul is also being marketed in Hong Kong. "Our export strategy is only to test market our branded products, but our real market is India. At all times our effort would be to remain market leaders in India and stave off competition, while testing our products globally," Vyas told IANS in an interview. The major supermarket and chain stores have been identified as the vehicle overseas to promote Amul dairy products ranging from milk powder, butter, ghee, cheese, butter, ice creams and tinned Indian sweets. As growth through bulk exports is variable, GCMMF has opted for sustained growth through retail sales that ensure brand recall and customer loyalty. Of the Rs.29 billion turnover in 2003-04, up from Rs.24.75 billion in the previous fiscal, GCMMF's overseas sales contributed Rs.500 million. The figures could have been much higher but for shortage of milk supplies early last year leading to GCMMF dropping an export order to Iraq. "Last year, we had to turn down an order for exports to Iraq and divert the milk and milk products to meet domestic demand (in New Delhi)," said R.S. Khanna, officer on special duty with the GCMMF based here. After a high 13 percent growth in 2000-01, GCMMF has been witnessing its normal four to five percent growth in milk production annually. The cooperative's current milk production, collected from 2.2 million milk producers of Gujarat, is around five million litres a day. Through tie-ups with similar dairy cooperatives in other states, GCMMF is now trying to not only increase its milk procurement but also enhance its production and market reach to new towns. Other than its own processing plants in Anand and Gandhinagar, both in Gujarat, GCMMF has acquired a dairy in Pune and Nagpur (both in Maharashtra) and entered into franchise arrangements in Baghpat and Ballabhgarh on the suburbs of Delhi. Amul milk is currently being supplied in 10 cities and towns outside Gujarat, including in Rajasthan and Maharashtra. Looking at expanding further in urban and semi urban regions, while strengthening its presence in 400 towns, GCMMF is finalising plans to set up a Rs.400 million dairy plant in Manesar in Haryana. "We have already bought the land and would soon be putting out tenders for the project. In a year's time, we hope to have the 500,000 litres per-day-capacity plant ready for processing of milk and milk products for supply in Delhi and the neighbouring region," said Khanna.