Within this religious context of dairy products having purifying qualities, it comes as no surprise that India is the largest producer and consumer of milk. Most tea and coffee in the country is consumed with milk in addition to the glass of warm health drinks given to children before they leave for school every morning or before bed every night.
Butter and ghee, on the other hand, are close to indispensable in the Indian cuisine. In Hindu mythology, stories of baby Krishna have given him the title of “Makhan Chor” or butter thief. Paneer, cheese, curd and baby food also boost the consumption of dairy in the country. Estimations for per capita consumption of diary over the next 50 years were expected to reach 800 grams per Indian, the same rate as in Europe or the United States.
The domestic dairy market is largely dominated by Amul , a cooperative of over 3.6 million farmers in the western state of Gujarat, followed by the Karnataka Milk Federation and other regional cooperatives based on the former’s success. However, over the last couple of years, global diary giants such as Lactalis, Fonterra and Danone were starting to make inroads into the Indian diary market. Until recently, almost three quarters of the milk procured by global diary companies was for export purposes. This trend had steadily declined as the milk export prices have substantially dropped from about 250 Indian rupees per liter in fiscal year 2014 to 140 rupees in fiscal year 2018.
With the current trend, India makes an attractive market for other international diary companies to step in with changing lifestyles and disposable incomes on the rise. Western food is gaining popularity, including cheese that is not traditionally consumed like Mozarella, Cheddar and Parmesan while the unprocessed cheese market was dominated by paneer.