Milma to take Nandini head on; to open outlets in Karnataka, TN

The popular Kerala milk brand Milma will now open outlets in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, said its Chairman K S Mani. Photo: Manorama news videograb/Manorama Online

Thiruvananthapuram: Faced with tough competition from Karnataka brand Nandini, which sells milk and milk products at lower prices in its bid to grab market share, the Kerala Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (KCMMF) has decided to pay it back in the same coin.

The popular Kerala milk brand Milma will now open outlets in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, said its chairman K S Mani, adding that the same should not be viewed as a 'tit for tat'. However, he said the federation won’t be selling milk through these outlets, but milk products.

What earlier triggered the controversy was the decision of Nandini, the country’s second-largest cooperative milk brand, to further expand its presence in neighbouring Kerala.

Nandini, the trade name used by the Karnataka Milk Marketing Federation (KMMF), has already launched six outlets in the state and is set to open three more. Its outlets currently operate in Kakkanad and Elamakkara in Ernakulam district; Pandalam in Pathanamthitta district; Manchery and Tirur in Malappuram district; and Thodupuzha in Idukki district. The Karnataka brand will soon be available in Kozhikode, Thalassery, and Guruvayur.

While Nandini initially sold milk at rates much lower than that of Milma, it hiked the charges after the Kerala Government officially conveyed its protest. While 500 ml of milk in Karnataka costs Rs 21, it sells the same in Kerala for Rs 29. The Nandini officials also said the milk products too are much cheaper. Nandini sells over 600 products, including milk, ice cream, paneer, cheese, chocolate, and cookies.

Nandini’s move to expand its brand presence in Kerala comes amid strong protest from the Kerala Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation, which rolls out Milma and enjoys a monopoly in the dairy sector in Kerala. Both are government-run organisations functioning in the cooperative model.

Milma used to procure up to two lakh litres of milk from Nandini at times when milk production in Kerala falls substantially. Nandini's direct sale of milk and milk products in Kerala is expected to adversely affect Milma, one of its main consumers, in a major way.

Milma is of the view that a cooperative society of one state selling the same product in the market of another state’s cooperative society is against the basic principles of the cooperative movement. It mulls to lodge a formal complaint in the next meeting of the board of directors of the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB).

The KMMF, which had earlier staunchly opposed the move of Gujarat-based Amul to open an outlet in Bengaluru by aligning farmers and politicians, is now strangely attempting to tap Milma’s market share in the latter’s home state.


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