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Aavin consumers in the city have complained that they are unable to get cooking butter from parlours.

“This has been the situation for over ten days now. Butter is not available over the counter as it used to be. The men in the parlour say we will have to wait and that they don’t know when it will be available,” said Raghunathan, a resident of Mylapore.

A person who runs an Aavin franchise outlet said they were getting only about 5-10 packs a day compared to the usual 50 packs. It was hardly enough.

“Customers are beginning to sound desperate and we have to give priority to those who buy from us on a regular basis. We have been requesting Aavin to improve supplies,” he said.

Sources said Aavin’s daily milk procurement had fallen from 42 lakh litres to 30 lakh litres, which was one reason for fall in butter production. Over 28.5 lakh litres of milk is being sold as milk, leaving just 1.5 lakh litres per day for other purposes.

“This is the lean season and the milk production is down. Private dairies have also poached Aavin’s milk-pouring farmers. But the cooperative has not taken enough steps to bring them back to its fold. At such a crucial time, several senior officers have also proceeded on medical leave. As a rule, Aavin used to keep 2,500 tonnes of butter and 3,000 tonnes of skimmed milk powder, requirement for three months, as buffer. However, it has now been reduced drastically and the milk major is unable to rebuild due to fall in milk procurement,” said a retired official.

Consumer activist T. Sadagopan said every year, the lean season comes from February to May and Aavin should have been prepared for it. “Can families wait till May end to buy butter? They are only successful in pushing faithful consumers to buy private brands, costlier than Aavin. They need to have an annual plan ready,” he said.

A couple of weeks ago, S.A. Ponnusamy of the milk retailers association, had warned of a butter shortage. “They had spent all the butter stock to make and supply ghee for the Pongal festival to fair price shops. But they failed to anticipate this fall in procurement,” he said.

Official sources in Aavin said they had procured butter from other cooperatives to tide over the sudden demand.

“Since Aavin is priced lesser than private brands, the demand has doubled over the past few weeks. We have directed Salem dairy to work in three shifts and supply us with at least four tonnes of butter a day for the city,” said an official.

Source : The Hindu March 28 2022