KMF managing director and CEO B C Sateesh told TNIE that further expansion in the state would be put on hold until discussions with Milma take place.
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The milk war between Kerala and Karnataka appears to be cooling off as a change in government in Karnataka has triggered a rethink on the part of the Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF) regarding its expansion plans in Kerala.
Within days of Congress leader Bhima Naik replacing BJP’s Balachandra Jarkiholi as the new chairman of KMF, its management has decided to hold talks with the Kerala Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation (Milma).
KMF had announced plans to open 25 new stores in Kerala over the next six months, despite opposition from Milma. KMF managing director and CEO B C Sateesh told TNIE that further expansion in the state would be put on hold until discussions with Milma take place.
He emphasised the cooperative nature of both organisations and expressed the need to address the concerns raised by Milma in a cordial manner. “We share a cordial relationship with Milma. Both are cooperative institutions. We provide them milk whenever a request is placed, especially during Onam,” he added. However, the KMF CEO does not see a problem with cross-border sale of liquid milk, although KMF had objected to the entry of Amul in Karnataka.
“We are a pan-India brand. We are selling our products from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. We sell our liquid milk in Mumbai, Nagpur, Pune, Hyderabad, Chennai, etc,” said Sateesh.He said the issue with Amul was sorted out and the issue raised by Milma will be dealt with in the same manner. Milma chairman K S Mani welcomed the development and said that an amicable solution would be to the benefit of the farmers and the milk federations.
“I do not know if the KMF’s new stand is because of the change in their board. But we welcome it. We only intended a course correction,” said Mani. The state government has sent letters to Karnataka on the concerns raised by Milma.
The Kerala co-operative is hoping that an opportunity for discussion will come up based on the letter or that it can be arranged during the Indian Cooperative Union meeting in Delhi on July 1-2.
Milma objected to the double standard of KMF in opposing Amul’s entry into Karnataka while expanding its own presence.
“If they claim to have the right, as a pan-India brand, to sell milk anywhere why did they object to Amul, which is a much bigger brand? Selling milk in places where there is a strong milk cooperative institution is not right even if it is in smaller volumes,” said Mani. When Amul’s entry into Karnataka ahead of the assembly election became a political issue, the Congress declared that it would not allow the BJP’s idea of centralising the control of milk federations in various states.
In the Kerala market, KMF’s brand Nandini sells its milk at a premium to Milma’s products. The issue of competitive pricing between the two came under scrutiny when reports emerged that KMF may raise its prices. There were reports that its chairman wanted to increase the cost of milk by `5 a litre in order to provide better prices for farmers. Milma had previously accused Nandini of procuring milk at lower rates using government subsidies for cross-border sales.
Milma vs nandini
- KMF had announced plans to open 25 new stores in Kerala over the next six months
- Further expansion would be put on hold until discussions with Milma, says KMF CEO
- Milma welcomes development, calls for amicable solution