Sucheta Dalal :Consumers bitter over butter shortage
Sucheta Dalal

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Consumers bitter over butter shortage   

October 9, 2009

Your toast is no longer delicious because butter is utterly non-existent in various parts of the country.


The prices of dairy products—especially butter and cheese—have risen sharply over the past couple of weeks because of countrywide shortage of milk. Many big and small retail stores around Mumbai city have not received butter stocks since August.


Talking to Moneylife, Shirish Virkar, deputy commissioner, Dairy Development Board of Maharashtra said, “It is true that several states like Maharashtra, West Bengal, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh are facing shortage of dairy products like ghee, cheese and butter to a larger extent. In Maharashtra the situation is not that acute compared to other states.”


Irony is that, India dairy giant Amul has been exporting its products to the US and Middle East to meet huge demand for Indian butter and cheese, while Indian cities are reeling under a severe shortage. The government has also failed to keep a check on the export of butter and other milk products to foreign countries.


Blaming it on dairy giant Amul, Virkar said, “Around 80% of butter supply in India is done by Amul. It has been more than two months since Amul ran out of butter stock in Maharashtra and several other states in India. This is because there has been some shortage in production of dairy products in Amul in the last couple of months, thanks to the delayed monsoon. This has decreased the yield of milk by over 35%, thereby bringing down butter production in the country.”


When asked to comment on the issue, Srinivas Tuma, area sales officer (Mumbai Division) of Amul said, “I agree that there is paucity of butter across India. This is due to shortage of milk production which is likely to continue till Diwali.”


BB Bhandari, general manager (Marketing) of Warana said, “The production of table butter of our company is down 80% this year. We have been able to recover production by 20% since August. Earlier, our daily supply of butter was around 2.5 tonnes per day but now, it is only 400 kg. As milk production is gradually recovering after the monsoons, we are hoping the production of butter to normalise after Diwali.”

Ajay Gangwani of Vaibhav Concerns, a Mumbai-based butter distributor said, “There has been a shortage of butter in Mumbai for last six months. I have stopped supplying table butter of all leading brands since then.”  

Pritam Shah, managing director of Pune-based Gowardhan Dairy said, “The situation of milk production is improving in India. Also there has been a steadily increase in butter stocks since August.” —Vidyut Kumar Ta with inputs from Pallabika Ganguly, Aditya Kshirsagar, Amritha Pillay  [email protected]


-- Sucheta Dalal