For all butter lovers, this festive season has proved to be less 'utterly butterly', due to shortage in butter supplies. Increased demand for butter due to the festive season, lesser imports and reduced milk production are being stated the main reasons for the shortage by butter manufacturing companies. But export of butter continued to be the main reason why we, Indians have to do without our share of “muska”.
"The milk production has been diverted to meet the demand for liquid milk," said RM Sodhi, chief general manger, Amul. Amul has cut down its butter supply by 20% since 15 August 2009.
However there is another angle to the shortage. "Last year, first time India exported about 10,000kg to 12,000kg butter Egypt and North African countries. After Diwali, Last year the pilling up of butter did not happen. All the diaries are now short of the stock," said Pritam Shah, managing director, Gowardhan.
Nestle, Mother Dairy, Britannia, Govardhan and Warana are other dairy product companies with Amul catering to about 85% in the Rs6 billion market for butter.
Few fast moving consumers goods store (All fresh, Sarvodaya, Shi Kachi Farshan) claimed that butter is out of stock since last 20 days. Some of the stores in Mumbai are selling margarine based products like Zudys Cadila’s Nutralite. Nutralite rules the Rs600 million market for margarine based products with a 60% share.
There is stunning silence on part of the distributors as well. When confronted about the shortage issue, Jude Cold Storage, one of the leading retailers of butter in India simply refused to comment by giving somewhat funny answer, “The proprietor can throw light on the ongoing problem but he cannot be reached as he doesn't own a cell-phone."
Mother Dairy's butter department in Goregaon, Mumbai was also reluctant to divulge any information. A source citing anonymity said, "There is indeed a shortage of butter but it isn't limited to Mother Dairy; other companies like Amul and Warana are going through the same problem". He refused to specify any further details on the issue.
While, Sodhi from Amul assured that the butter supplies would be normalised in the next fifteen days, sources from Gowardhan do not expect normal supplies to be retained before Diwali.
Cashing in on the shortage of butter supplies, few retail outlets have also started selling butter packs at rates higher than the maximum retail price (MRP).
Ramesh Bang, Minister for food and civil supplier, Maharashtra and officials of the Warana Dairy were not immediately available for comments.
- Pallabika Ganguly, Amritha Pillay, Aditya Kshirsagar and Yogesh Sapkale