At a time when people are stocking up on every available food item and supermarket shelves are emptied out by afternoon, milk supply remains a constant. Almost all households have been able to buy milk with relative ease even though some private players have stopped procurement from dairies. One of the main reasons for this is work done by the Bangalore Urban, Rural & Ramanagara District Co-operatives Milk Producers Societies Union (BAMUL), under Karnataka Cooperative Milk Producers’ Federation (KMF).
However, vendors and agents in non-residential areas have been hit by the sudden drop in demand from commercial players including hotels, restaurants, bakeries and caterers. “In my case, at least 30-40% of my sales were to hotels, bakeries, tea shops and caterers,” said Ashok.K., a milk vendor near T.C. Palya on Old Madras Road.
A milk vendor in Mahadevapura area said he had lost a chunk of his business because of the shutdown of hotels and restaurants. “Apart from that, I do door delivery to apartments etc. Transportation at this stage is not uninterrupted like before. People are worried and cynical, police are sceptical and we suffer,” he said, adding that many people wanted to stop milk buying packets fearing the spread of COVID-19.
On the positive side, demand in residential areas remains robust. R. Chandrashekar Gowda, a milk retailer in Sadashivnagar, said milk vendors and retailers have not been affected due to the lockdown and that the supply from BAMUL was regular. “Sale of milk and curd has not dropped. In fact, the demand for items like cheese and paneer has increased a bit as everyone is at home,” he said. Mr. Chandrashekar Gowda pointed out that if the arrival of milk is delayed, people start panicking. “Hence, the supply of milk on time is a huge responsibility,” he said.
BAMUL is closely working with government agencies to ensure that transportation. Dr. Rudresh S.N., deputy manager, marketing, BAMUL, said Bengaluru receives milk from various districts and taluks. “For example K.R. Puram receives milk from Hoskote; north part of the city including Peenya, Jalahalli, Yeshwanthpur areas get milk supply from Tumkuru, and areas in and around Kengeri from Mandya. Hence, transportation here is vital and inter-district dependent,” Mr. Rudresh said.
The pandemic scare has also led to around 60-70 agents under BAMUL backing out. “Though it is a negligible number, it shows that people are fearful. We have taken all precautions by providing drivers and supply chain staff with necessary items including gloves and masks. We have ensured there proper hygiene throughout the chain,” Narasimha Murthy, President, BAMUL, said.
Nagesh.M., a milk retailer in Teachers Colony, Koramangala, said they had got instructions from BAMUL to follow social distancing and to wear masks and gloves. “People are cooperative. Since most of our business is early in the morning, it is not a problem,” he said.