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Mukesh Ambani dons milkman`s hat with `Dairy Pure`

Last Updated: Sunday, November 15, 2009 - 15:50

New Delhi: Milk is industrialist Mukesh Ambani`s newest business muscle and his corporate dairy is looking for refrigerator space at mom and pop stores, in addition to vending from Reliance Retail stores.

With the beginning of sale of `Dairy Pure` through general milk retailers, as opposed to mostly through Reliance Retail-owned stores now, the company expects further growth in this business.

The milk business turnover grew nearly 3-fold to over Rs 178 crore last fiscal.

Living up to its reputation of entering a market with a competitive edge in terms of pricing, Reliance Retail is trying to lure customers with 10 percent extra milk in every packet than that of its rivals for the same price.

When contacted, the company spokesperson told reporters that Reliance Retail was expanding and further strengthening its milk retailing business through its private label under `Dairy Pure` brand.

Besides Reliance stores, the milk brand is also being sold "through general trade (including milk retailers) in Haryana, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, NCR (National Capital Region) and Himachal Pradesh," the spokesperson added.

On their part, rivals are welcoming a large corporate in the market saying it would benefit both farmers and customers, but are not perturbed by the competitive pricing as they consider it too small a player as yet to eat into their pie.

Amul, the country`s largest milk retailer, believes a sizeable market presence cannot be built overnight in milk business and needs strong procurement and marketing network.

"Reliance Retail`s milk brand has not got much presence in the market as yet. But it is good for the market to have more players and entry of a large corporate house would be beneficial for farmers as well as customers," Amul`s Chief General Manager R S Sodhi said.

The market is mostly dominated by state cooperatives.

Asked whether Amul would lower prices following competitive offer from Reliance, Sodhi said no such plans were on the table as the company was not worried over lower pricing by Reliance Retail, as it had no significant presence as yet.

Still, Reliance Dairy Foods Ltd, the milk and other dairy products subsidiary of petrochemicals and refining major Reliance Industries, saw its turnover grow nearly three-times last fiscal -- from Rs 65.77 crore in 2007-08 to Rs 178.05 crore in 2008-09.

However, its loss after tax widened from Rs 3 crore in 2007-08 to Rs 4.5 percent in the latest fiscal.

The company believes the business would grow further as it was also looking at expanding product portfolio as also processing and packaging facilities.

"We see this business further growing with the extension of our product portfolio. Reliance Retail currently has its processing and packaging facilities in Andhra Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan and would look at expanding this over a period of time in other states," the spokesperson said.

The official, however, declined to comment on investments to be made for expansion as also its targeted market size for
the dairy business.

Reliance Dairy Foods` total assets stood at Rs 82.23
crore at the end of last fiscal, up from about Rs 39 crore at
the end of 2007-08, as per information in Reliance Industries`
annual report.

RIL forayed into organised retail business in 2006
through inception of its subsidiary Reliance Retail Limited.

It has increased its footprint to more than 900 stores
across the country.

"During the year, RRL continued to bolster its
agribusiness and dairy value chain to support its rapidly
expanding store footprint," RIL said in its annual report.

Bureau Report

First Published: Sunday, November 15, 2009 - 15:50
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