GCMMF Board asked Amul’s Managing Director RS Sodhi to resign
In the past ten years, Amul went from being a well-known brand of dairy products to a brand that sells a wide range of foods. It is now one of the top 10 dairy processors in the world. Rupinder Singh Sodhi, who was in charge of the company during that time, deserves a lot of credit for how it changed.
During Sodhi’s time as Managing Director, which started in June 2010, Amul expanded into new areas of dairy, beverages, and non-dairy products. The most recent of these was organic atta, which gave dairy producers and the new breed of organic farmers a place to sell their products.
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The Amul records
Amul’s (GCMMF) sales have grown up by an impressive average of 14.5% per year over the past ten years, from about ₹8,000 crore in 2009-10 to about ₹47,000 crore in 2021-22. The total amount of money that 18 dairy cooperative unions under the Amul Federation make has gone over ₹61,000 crore (approx USD 7.4 billion).
Amul also kept putting more money into increasing its processing capacity. During the decade, Amul put about ₹8,700 crore into investments. Across the different States, the amount of water that can be processed is over 390 million litres per day.
This had to be done because Amul bought 175% more milk, from 91 lakhs litres per day (llpd) in 2009-10 to over 280 llpd in 2011-12. The cooperative dairy company with the most members has added more than 6.5 lakh milk producer members in Gujarat and 7 lakh outside of Gujarat. This brings the total number of milk producers in India to over 40 lakh. In 2010-2011, Amul began to buy milk from places other than Gujarat. Today, it gets about 40 lakh litres of milk from places like Maharashtra, West Bengal, Delhi, etc. This is on top of the 210-230 lakh litres that were bought from within Gujarat.
The price of buying milk has gone up 140% in the last 10 years, from ₹337 per kg-fat in 2009-10 to about ₹850 per kg-fat now. ‘If a food company wants to be around for a long time, stay in business, and grow, it has to take care of the grower and the consumer. In earlier interviews with the media Sodhi had said, ‘Our strategy is value for many (farmers) and value for money (for consumers).’
Amul – a global giant
Sodhi was in charge of turning the dairy giant Amul into a food giant. This happened after Amul started expanding its product line to include dairy products, frozen foods, milk-based and non-milk beverages, sweets, honey, organic grains and flours, and ready-to-eat bakery and packaged foods. It also put out oils under the Janmay brand name. Notably, the share of non-dairy products in total sales has gone from being almost nothing to being in the double digits.
He was elected President of the Indian Dairy Association (IDA) in 2022. This was a huge step up in his career for a graduate of rural management who had joined Amul in 1982 as a sales officer. Sodhi had told this paper in the past, ‘I had the good fortune to work directly with and learn from Dr. Verghese Kurien, who is known as the father of the white revolution.’
At a time when the Indian government decided to double farmers’ incomes, dairy farming and raising animals became a good bet for small and poor farmers. Sodhi was a strong supporter of farmers’ rights. He was a major reason why the proposed Regional Cooperation for Economic Partnership (RCEP) South-Asian trade bloc did not include free trade in the dairy sector.
Sodhi is from the first class of the Institute of Rural Management in Anand (IRMA). He has a degree in agriculture engineering from the CTAE in Udaipur. Anand Agriculture University gave him an honorary degree as a Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa).
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Sodhi quit on Monday after the GCMMF Board of Directors decided to end his services and asked him to give the job to Chief Operating Officer Jayen Mehta. What surprised the dairy industry and other stakeholders was that the Board didn’t say anything about why he was fired or how much he had helped build the Amul brand.
But Sodhi’s departure was expected, since he was on his second contract extension since December 2020. But sources say that the Board of Directors, which is made up of the heads of Gujarat’s 18 district milk unions, held an unplanned meeting on Monday and decided that Sodhi’s job as Managing Director should end right away ‘without a good reason.’