AMUL is based in Anand, Gujarat and has been a sterling example of a co-operative organization's success in the long term. It is one of the best examples of co-operative achievement in the developing economy. "Anyone who has seen ... the dairy cooperatives in the state of Gujarat, especially the highly successful one known as AMUL, will naturally wonder what combination of influences and incentives is needed to multiply such a model a thousand times over in developing regions everywhere.
The Amul Pattern has established itself as a uniquely appropriate model for rural development. Amul has spurred the White Revolution of India, which has made India the largest producer of milk and milk products in the world. It is also the world's biggest vegetarian cheese brand.
Amul is the largest food brand in India and world's Largest Pouched Milk Brand with an annual turnover of US $1050 million. Currently Amul has 2.6 million producer members with milk collection average of 10.16 million litres per day. Besides India, Amul has entered overseas markets such as Mauritius, UAE, USA, Bangladesh, Australia, China, Singapore, Hong Kong and a few South African countries. Its bid to enter Japanese market in 1994 had not succeeded, but now it has fresh plans of flooding the Japanese markets. Other potential markets being considered include Sri Lanka.
Dr Verghese Kurien, former chairman of the GCMMF, is recognised as the man behind the success of Amul. On 10 Aug 2006 Parthi Bhatol, chairman of the Banaskantha Union, was elected chairman of GCMMF.
Amul was formally registered on December 14, 1946. The brand name Amul, sourced from the Sanskrit word Amoolya, means priceless. It was suggested by a quality control expert in Anand and it was chosen because it was a perfect acronym for Anand Milk Union Limited.
The Amul revolution was started as awareness among the farmers. It grew and matured into a protest movement that was channeled towards economic prosperity.
Situation of farmers
Over five decades ago, the life of an average farmer in Kheda District was very much like that of his/her counterpart anywhere else in India. His/her income was derived almost entirely from seasonal crops. The income from milk buffaloes was undependable. Milk producers had to travel long distances to deliver milk to the only dairy, the Polson Dairy in Anand – often milk went sour, especially in the summer season, as producers had to physically carry milk in individual containers. Private traders and middlemen controlled the marketing and distribution system for the milk.
These middlemen decided the prices and the off-take from the farmers by the season. As milk is perishable, farmers were compelled to sell it for whatever they were offered. Often, they had to sell cream and ghee at throw-away prices. In this situation, the private trader made a killing. Moreover, the government at that time had given monopoly rights to Polson Dairy (around that time Polson was the most well known butter brand in the country) to collect milk from Anand and supply to Mumbai city in turn (about 400 kilometers away). Another problem farmers faced was that in winter the milk output of buffaloes doubled which caused prices to fall down even further. India ranked nowhere amongst milk producing countries in the world in 1946.
Gradually, the realization dawned on the farmers with inspiration from then nationalist leaders Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Morarji Desai (who later become the Prime Minister of India) and local farmer, freedom fighter and social worker Tribhovandas Patel, that the exploitation by the trader could be checked only if they marketed their milk themselves. Amul was the result of the realization that they could pool up their milk and work as a cooperative.
Setting up of Kaira District Co-operative Milk Producers' Union
The Kaira District Co-operative Milk Producers' Union Limited (KDCMPUL) began pasteurizing milk for the Bombay Milk Scheme in June 1948. By the end of 1948, more than 400 farmers joined in more Village Society, and the quantity of milk handled by one Union increased from 250 to 5,000 liters a day. Meanwhile, Dr. Verghese Kurien, fed up being at the government creamery in Anand, Gujarat, which held no challenge, volunteered to help Shri Tribhovandas Patel, the Chairman of KDCMPUL, in setting up a processing plant. This marked the birth of AMUL in 1946. The success of Amul was instrumental in launching the White Revolution that resulted in increased milk production in India. It is officially termed as Operation Flood by Amul. The breakthrough technology of spray-drying and processing buffalo milk, developed by Mr. H.M. Dalaya, was one of the key factors that contributed to the Revolution.
Setting Up of Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation
In 1954, Kaira District Co-operative Milk Producers’ Union built a plant to convert surplus milk produced in the cold seasons into milk powder and butter. In 1958, a plant to manufacture cheese and one to produce baby food were added. Subsequent years saw the addition of more plants to produce different products. In 1973, the milk societies/district level unions decided to set up a marketing agency to market their products. This agency was the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF). It was registered as a co-operative society on 9 July 1973.
GCMMF is India's largest food products marketing organisation. It is a state level apex body of milk cooperatives in Gujarat, which aims to provide remunerative returns to the farmers and also serve the interest of consumers by providing quality products, which are good value for money. GCMMF markets and manages the Amul brand. From mid-1990's Amul has entered areas not related directly to its core business. Its entry into ice cream was regarded as successful due to the large market share it was able to capture within a short period of time - primarily due to the price differential and the brand name. It also entered the Pizza business, where the base and the recipes were made available to restaurant owners who could price it as low as 30 rupees per pizza when the other players were charging upwards of 100 rupees.
In September 2007, Amul emerged as the leading Indian brand according to a survey by Synovate to find out Asia's top 1000 Brands.
Amul's product range includes milk powders, milk, butter, ghee, cheese, curd, chocolate, ice cream, cream, shrikhand, paneer, gulab jamuns, basundi, Nutramul brand and others. In January 2006, Amul plans to launch India's first sports drink Stamina, which will be competing with Coca Cola's Powerade and PepsiCo's Gatorade.
In August 2007, Amul introduced Kool Koko, a chocolate milk brand extending its product offering in the milk products segment. Other Amul brands are Amul Kool, a low calorie thirst quenching drink; Masti Butter Milk; Kool Cafe, ready to drink coffee and India's first sports drink Stamina.
Amul's sugar-free Pro-Biotic Ice-cream won The International Dairy Federation Marketing Award for 2007.
Since 1967 Amul products' mascot has been the very recognisable "Amul baby" (a chubby butter girl usually dressed in polka dotted dress) showing up on hoardings and product wrappers with the equally recognisable tagline Utterly Butterly Delicious Amul.The mascot was first used for Amul butter. But in recent years in a second wave of ad campaign for Amul products, she has also been used for other product like ghee and milk.
Currently Amul is in the Guinness Book Of World Records. Although there seems to be no competition for this mascot, Amul Corporation is still doing further research to confirm their claims.
An Amul butter ad on Pakistan's Kargil War fiasco. The image shows the "Amul baby" in between George Fernandes and Atal Behari Vajpayee.
Its advertising has also started using tongue-in-cheek sketches starring the Amul baby commenting jovially on the latest news or current events. The pun in her words has been popular. The Amul ads are one of the longest running ads based on a theme, now vying for the Guinness records for being the longest running ad campaign ever. Sylvester da Cunha was the managing director of the advertising agency, ASP, that created, in 1967, the campaign whose charm has endured fickle public opinion, gimmickry and all else.
Other co-operative rivals of Amul include National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) . With Amul entering the sports drink market, its rivals now include Coca Cola and PepsiCo.
In Popular Culture
The establishment of Amul is also known as White Revolution. The White Revolution of India inspired the notable Indian film-maker Shyam Benegal to base his film Manthan (1976) on it. The film starred Smita Patil, Girish Karnad, Naseeruddin Shah and Amrish Puri. The film itself was financed by over five lakh rural farmers in Gujarat who contributed Rs 2 each to the film'š budget. Upon its release, these same farmers went in truckloads to watch 'their' film, making it a commercial success, the film was chosen for the 1977 National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi.
The White Revolution ushered an era of plenty from a measly amount of milk production and distribution. Aside from the great measurable success that this project was, it also demonstrated the power of "collective might". A small set of poor farmers of Kheda district in Gujarat had the vision and foresight to act in a way that was good for the society and not for the self alone.