Safe milk is our right

Dear friends,
Life is coming back to normal. After reaching 26.5 lakhs confirmed corona cases and 51000 deaths in India , we are no more afraid of Corona. We were more frightened on March 19th when Janata curfew was declared. At that time total deaths in the world were 8000 and the total number of cases was over two lakhs. India was having only 173 cases of Corona at that time and all of us applauded the efforts of the government to timely declare the lockdown .

Since then many things happened including  announcements of huge packages by the  government to a level of Rs 2 Million Crores . Agriculture and dairy also got their humble pie of close to 5.3%. Barring a few studies which showed high distress of rural farmers during the lockdown period, everything on other media vehicles appeared to be just normal and progressive. I think let us leave all such data crunching for the government and think tanks of the country. Also read Dairy farmers had a tough time during Covid-19

Premium price tag for Just milk

Today let us look at the premium brands in the country selling milk and milk products. I am picking two highly commoditized and generic products from the rich basket of dairy product mix. Let us look at milk and Ghee for the sake of discussion. We are observing that the cow milk prices at the farmer level have gone down to as low as  Rs 15 per liter during the lockdown. The buffalo milk also hovered around Rs 28-32 for some time. On the other hand the so-called fresh farm milk suppliers in Metros and mini metros have established themselves as the suppliers of pure and safe milk . They sell  cow milk anywhere from Rs 60 to Rs 150 per liter.

Ghee on the other hand especially cow ghee which is available at below Rs 4500.00 in a 15 Kgs tin in bulk being sold for even Rs 4500 per kg. Cow ghee could well be sold starting from Rs 1500 per liter to any higher level. Recently Donkey milk has been launched at from Rs 4500 – Rs 7000 per liter. Does the poor jennet know that her milk is most close to human milk in its composition and Cleopatra used to take baths with her milk after it got sour? Also read Blue dye will be added to adulterated milk in Maharashtra : Sunil Kedar Minister

Are we talking about milk here ?

I have been hearing since my childhood  that there are  two sides of a coin. But I have never seen these two sides so much apart from each other. Now let us examine the claims being made by the worthy suppliers of these premium quality of milk and ghee products. 

Are we really talking about milk here ? Does the consumer have the capability to verify all these facts ? Also read Uncontrolled use of critically important antibiotics in dairy cattle is making milk unsafe: CSE findings
The million dollar question here to ask is; ” Isn’t this milk the one being recommended by regulator to come to the market for selling “?  Then why am I supposed to pay premium for this milk?

A1 or A2 . Is it relevant ?

Now let us go beyond the scope of the regulator’s regime; the story of A2 milk. FSSAI has clarified under its FAQ that the milk scientific panel could not verify the claims about superiority of A2 . In India over 90% of the milk is of A2 type. How is it then justified to charge premium for this milk ? The same A2 milk is being sold for Rs20- 25 per liter in villages as cow milk. But there are no takers.

Cow ghee paradigm with a special species of cow under A2 category sells at much higher premium. This too when superiority of A2 over A1 is not proven as well as buffalo milk could also righteously calim its citizenship in the kingdom of the country called as A2.  Also read FSSAI amends regulation on analogues and testing of ghee purity

Is Charging premium justified ?

I have no doubts on the quality claims made by these players but charging premium to give safe milk and milk products to the consumers doesn’t make any sense to me. If such is the case then the government must ensure the necessary infrastructure to 70 millions farmers in the country so that they could also get similar premium for their milk.

Safe milk is the basic requirement of milk being sold in the market. It can not come with a premium tag  .

A blog by Kuldeep Sharma