Amul has slammed companies selling almond, soya, rice beverages and oats in disguise of milk and may consider dragging them to court to stop this practice. Food regulator, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) had issued a draft notification in August, proposing to stop the use of the word 'milk' for such products.
Amul's managing director, RS Sodhi said that many foreign and Indian companies are selling plant-based beverages as milk in the country. This, he believes, is a violation of existing regulations.
Sodhi said, "Ten crore dairy farmers for whom milk is an instrument of socio-economic development are going to fight this misinformation campaign done by some companies and NGOs where they are selling chemically fortified beverages manufactured in factories and calling it milk. There are no clinical trials or scientific studies to prove that they are better than milk."
"We have requested the FSSAI to instruct these product manufacturers and importers to remove the word 'milk' from the labelling and also refrain from using this dairy term in any communication, as it is in violation of the existing regulations," added Sodhi. He did not rule out legal action.
FSSAI is deliberating the issues with industry representatives and analysing the comments they have received, said FSSAI CEO Arun Singhal. He said they'll take a month or two to reach a decision after a scientific panel's recommendations are put to the authority and sent to the health ministry.
Foreign funding of more than $200 million (Rs 1,500 crore) is expected in India for the plant-based beverages sector, according to the industry.
Dairy is the largest agricultural product of India, contributing 2% to the gross domestic product valued at Rs 8 lakh crore, said Sodhi. "The emergence of vegan and plant-based milk substitutes is an opportunity for global companies to profit from the Indian dairy industry," he said.