India’s journey to the summit of the dairy market started in 1970 under the guidance of Dr. Verghese Kurien. ‘Operation Flood’ - a massive dairy development program, marked the beginning of India’s transformation from milk deficient nation to its largest producer. Home to more than 60 million milk cows, India produced more than 187 million metric tons of milk in fiscal year 2019. Unsurprisingly, the country reared nearly thrice the number of milk cows in the entire European Union that year.
Despite being an important contributor to the country’s economy, the Indian dairy industry is highly unorganized, fragmented, and lacks technological advancements. The unorganized sector consists of traditional milkmen who sell raw or unprocessed milk to their customers and other vendors. The organized sector, on the other hand, consists of various private cooperatives. Amul, the Indian dairy cooperative society was one of the leading brands worldwide. Along with the Gujarat-based cooperative, Karnataka Milk Federation were the two most dominating players in the country.
Dairy products are the chief source of protein for millions of lacto-vegetarians in the country. An even larger part of the population who cannot afford meat relies heavily on dairy for their dietary protein demand. Even though the northern region in India accounted for the highest per capita consumption, other regions were not far behind. India offers a variety of dairy-based cuisines that are unique to its diverse culture. Paneer, a soft and non-melting kind of cheese, is very popular and found in several dishes. Milk and curd are also indispensable to many beverages including tea, coffee, and lassi.