Having captured a lion’s share of 65 per cent in the milk market, Madurai Aavin is a giant and is sitting pretty.

But this is also the right time for the administration to look at the grievances in the milk producers’ cooperative society. This needs to be redressed urgently if Aavin wants to remain ahead in the race as competition from private players is fast catching up.

Complaints, to name a few, include alleged malpractice in milk procurement, lack of checks on quality control, non-appointment of staff at supervisory level on production side. Dealers are also not without woes as they expect the Aavin management to extend distribution in the afternoon also as consumers want fresh milk in the evening (presently, the Aavin supplies milk only in the morning. Only select points are covered in the noon).

After the recent appointment of a new chairman for the Madurai Aavin, who belongs to the ruling AIADMK, and a set of directors, the employees and stakeholders are looking for growth.

The profit-making Aavin, a household name, was established in the mid-70s on a sprawling 40 acre site at Anna Nagar on the Sivaganga Road under the UNICEF fund. Though many ambitious schemes were devised on the lines of ‘Amul’ Gujarat to introduce and adopt new technologies, they could not be fully implemented owing to political intervention and lack of accountability.

According to data obtained from the Aavin, from a modest 80,000-litre sales per day on an average (1992), the figure has doubled to 1.65 lakh litres (2013). On the procurement side, it has risen to 1.93 lakh litres a day from less than 75,000 litres two decades ago.

A senior official said Aavin aims to achieve the 2 lakh mark in sales and also enhance the procurement levels to 3 lakh litres a day.

“The worst times for Aavin are over. We look forward to growth and serve our customers in a better manner,” the new chairman, Thangam, had told reporters a week ago.

In 2004-05, when milk procurement dipped below 1.30 lakh litres, there was scarcity of Aavin milk everywhere in the city. Utilising the opportunity, private players built up their market. Today, Arokya, Raj, Navin, among others, are having a stake in the market. Many consumers, including tea stalls and restaurants, buy milk from private producers, claiming that the product was of ‘higher quality.’

New trend in city

Till a few years ago, many consumers preferred to go to Aavin booth or depot in their locality in the morning and afternoon to buy milk. But the buying trend has changed. Now, youth deliver the milk at home. Not many visit the Aavin booths. However, as the agent commission offered by Aavin is not lucrative, the youth promote products of the private producers whose commission is enticing.

Milk vendor P. Murugan of Kamarajar Salai said he sells around 700 litres of Aavin milk daily. He wants the Aavin management to supply milk at noon “as many consumers want fresh milk for evening consumption.”

Subsidy for milch animals

In a bid to increase milk production, the State government offers subsidies to farmers for buying milch animals.

However, at a recent meeting with the Collector, many farmers from Madurai and Theni complained that there were irregularities in getting loans given by the government agencies. They also urged that the cattle feed unit at Kappalur in Madurai be revived.

A milk producer, N.K. Ramkumar of Mahalipatti, said that the Aavin should have a modern testing facility and pay the right price to the milk suppliers.

An Aavin official told The Hindu that there was a proposal to install bulk milk coolers in villages for the benefit of small milk producers. As for the complaints of poor quality of milk, he said that there were 32 milk parlours in the city, 481 milk depots, 443 retail selling agents, 132 dropping point concessionaries and three self-help-groups who supply milk. Only after thorough checks, the milk sachets were sent.”

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