Contains Amul Milk melamine

Dairy in India - Dairy in India

Dairy products play an important role in numerous aspects of Indian society, including cuisine, religion, culture and economy.

India has the world's largest dairy herd with over 300 million cattle and produces over 187 million tons of milk. India ranks first among all countries in both the production and consumption of milk. Most of the milk is consumed domestically, but a small part is also exported. Indian cuisine, especially North Indian cuisine, features a range of dairy products such as paneer, while South Indian cuisine makes more use of yogurt and milk. Milk and dairy products play a role in Hindu religious practice and legend.

Milk production on the Indian subcontinent has historical roots that go back 8,000 years to the domestication of zebu cattle. Dairy products, especially milk, have been consumed on the subcontinent at least since the Vedic period. In the mid to late 20th century, Operation Flood transformed the Indian dairy industry into the largest in the world. Previously, milk was mainly produced on household farms in India.

The economic impact of the dairy industry in India is significant. Most of the milk produced comes from buffalo; Cow's milk is barely a second and goat's milk a distant third. A wide variety of dairy products are made in India. Milk imports to India are negligible and subject to duties. The domestic industry is regulated by government agencies such as the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairy Farming and Fisheries. National Dairy Development Board; and Food Safety Authority and Standards of India.


Early period

The history of dairy products in the Indian subcontinent dates back approximately 8,000 years to the first domestication of Zebu cattle, believed to have originated in India. At the beginning of the Indus Valley civilization (approx. 3300 - approx. 1300 BC) Zebu cattle were completely domesticated and used for their milk. They are abundantly represented in the osteological remains and ceramics of the time. The water buffalo is also native to South Asia. While wild populations existed long before domestication, in the times of the Indus Valley civilization they were domesticated and used for plowing and milking. Goats and sheep were also domesticated in the Indus Valley, although it is uncertain whether they were milked.

In the Vedic period (approx. 1500 - approx. 500 BC) milk was one of the main elements of the typical diet. Milk and dairy products including clarified butter were consumed. The Vedas refer to milk in a number of passages and contain over 700 references to cows, which are described and considered in high regard Aghnya to be called (not to kill). Both the Vedic and Pali canons, which are rich in descriptions of contemporary culture, contain numerous references to the offerings of dairy products and their processing. Milk, generally boiled cow's milk, was used to make a mixture of grains and porridge with roasted barley.

Yogurt (curd cheese) was another form of milk consumed during the period. The Vedas describe the curdling of milk by mixing in a portion of sour milk. They also mention curdling milk by adding plant-based substances, such as the bark of the palash tree and the fruit of jujube, which may have contained rennet-like enzymes. These are some of the earliest documented references to enzymatic cheese making.

The Indologist Wendy Doniger compares Vedic peoples with American cowboys and finds that they often carry out raids on their rivals' cattle. She also notes that Vedic groups viewed livestock as a form of wealth.

According to the sutra literature, in the period c. 800 - c. 300 BC Chr. Cooked rice with milk or curd cheese continued to be a common food. The cows used to be milked twice a day. Those who were pregnant, going through their oestrus cycle, or nursing a calf from another cow were not milked. The preparation of Payasa is also noted. Madhuparka - A mixture of honey with quark or ghee was used to greet the guests. Mention is also made of making a candy with clarified butter as one of the ingredients. The Buddhist and Jainist texts of this period also consider milk and its products to be important foods, with rice pudding being particularly preferred. You mention preparations made from cottage cheese, butter and buttermilk. In addition to cows and buffalo, the milk from camels and goats was also used.

Milk, curd and ghee were important elements of the diet on the Indian subcontinent during the reign of rulers from different religious backgrounds. A number of foreign travelers noted the presence of dairy products in the Indian diet.

Modern time

Dairy products in India were once a largely livelihood profession intended to produce milk for self-consumption. In 1919, a dairy census was first carried out by British colonial officials. A report written in 1937 indicated a suboptimal milk consumption rate in the country. A per capita intake of 7 ounces (200 g) per day (including all dairy products) was estimated, which was the lowest of any major dairy country. The low productivity of dairy cattle and widespread poverty have been the challenges in increasing milk production and consumption. Consumption varied depending on geographic and economic conditions, but was quite low overall.

Modern milk processing and marketing technologies were introduced in India in the 1920s. The National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) was established in 1965. Operation Flood was launched in 1969-70, a program to modernize and develop the dairy sector with the help of cooperatives. During this period, dairy cooperatives became a dominant force due to the exploitative nature of private milk factories and sellers. The co-operatives were based on the "Anand Model" - a three-tier organizational structure that included (i) village-level co-operatives (the primary producers) and (ii) district-level co-operative producer unions, which comprised the dairy and processing plants and (iii) state associations for the Marketing. This model was developed in Anand, Gujarat, after starting there in 1946, and has been adopted across the country.

Operation Flood took place in three phases. Phase I (1970–1981) focused on the development of milk production in areas around New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai. Phase II (from 1986), a larger phase of the project, expanded investments to 147 urban centers across the country. In Phase III, which lasted until the mid-1990s, investments were expanded even further to a number of smaller cities. In addition to investment by the Government of India, several phases of Operation Flood have been partially funded by the World Bank and the European Economic Community.

India has been the world's largest milk producer since 1997 when it surpassed the US.



Dairy products have been an integral part of Indian cuisine since ancient times. North Indian cuisine is particularly known for being heavily based on dairy products. A specialty of Punjabi cuisine is the use of paneer, a type of cheese. The Punjabi dal makhani is a rich stew made from black lentils, kidney beans, butter and cream. Popular paneer dishes include Mattar Paneer, Palak Paneer, Shahi Paneer, Paneer Kofta, and Paneer Bhurgy. Paneer is also used to make paneer pakora (a fried snack) and paneer paratha (a layered chapati filled with paneer). Ghee, a form of clarified butter, is widely used in Indian cuisine. It is used with rice preparations such as biryani and as a spread on unleavened bread (roti). It has a strong taste and is also used as an edible oil. Cream is also commonly used in North Indian dishes to make the sauce rich and creamy.

Another common use of milk is tea ( Chai ). Most of the tea consumed in India is sugared milk tea. Drinking tea became a part of Indian culture during the 20th century. As of 2018, the per capita consumption was 0.78 kilograms.


The cow has a sacred status in Hinduism, which is the majority religion in India. However, almost half of the milk produced in India comes from buffalo, which is also consumed as meat (carabeef). In contrast to the cow, the water buffalo is considered impure and unfavorable. In Hindu mythology, evil is often represented by the water buffalo. Yama, the Hindu god of death, rides a water buffalo. In the 1940s, Mahatma Gandhi lamented the preference for buffalo milk in Indian society and noted the nutritional superiority of cow's milk.

Ancient Indian cosmology postulated that the earth's continents were immersed in a variety of dairy products, including milk and ghee.

According to Wendy Doniger, the early Common Era changed the practice of the ideal Hindu devotee from sacrificing and consuming cows to milking cows. In other words, she argues, there has been a cultural shift between "hunting" cows and "preserving" cows to use products like milk. Milk, curd and ghee were three of the five sacred cow products for Hindus.

Milk is one of the offerings by followers of a number of Hindu festivals such as Maha Shivaratri and Nag Panchami. During the pongal, rice is boiled in milk until it overflows from the clay pot and then offered to the gods, the cows and finally family members. During Holi, milk is used to prepare Thandai, a slightly intoxicating drink. In Kerala, the state government procured 8.5 million liters of milk for the Onam Festival in 2015.

In early Buddhism there were some conflicts where Ahiṃsā (Nonviolence) im Was in the foreground whether drinking milk is ethical as it deprives calves of their nourishment, but that view was ultimately abandoned.

Jainism forbids in spite of his more extreme views too Ahiṃsā and vegetarianism does not include the consumption of dairy products. While the Jain Doctrine forbids the intentional infliction of suffering or suffering on a multi-sensory being, most Jains consume dairy products. This has been a source of tension in the religion. Some Jains argue that dairy products (along with other animal products such as wool) can be made without Hiṃsā To cause (harm). However, this ignores the reality of industrial milk production which is typically a major concern for animals. The mood in the Jain community is growing towards veganism.

Traditional medicine

Milk plays a role in Ayurveda, a form of alternative medicine practiced in India. Ayurveda recommends the daily consumption of milk due to its good digestive and calming properties.


Share of milk by type (2017-18)

Indigenous buffalo (35%)
Indescribable Buffalo (14%)
Unrecognized cows (10%)
Local cows (10%)
Crossbreed cows (26%)
Exotic cows (1%)

India has the highest milk production and consumption of any country. The annual production as of 2018 was 186 million tons.

As of 2020, around 4.2% of India's gross domestic product was accounted for by milk production. In 2019, the Indian dairy sector is expected to have grown by 4.9% annually. In 2018-19, the Government of India reported that 187.7 million tons of milk had been produced and that the per capita availability of milk in India was 394 grams per day.

India has a population of over 300 million cattle, including 192.49 million cattle and 109.85 million buffalo, according to the 2019 cattle census. Almost half of the milk produced in India comes from water buffalo as opposed to cows. Previously, water buffalo produced most of the milk in India. As of 2019, buffalo produced 91.82 million tons of milk. Goat milk is the third most commonly produced type of milk with a 4% contribution between 2017 and 18. The predominant genotype in Indian native breeds of cows and buffalo is described as A2A2, which means that they produce A2 milk.

The population of native cattle breeds has steadily declined while that of the more productive exotic and crossbreeds has increased. Native cows produce about 3.73 kilograms of milk per day, compared to 7.61 kilograms per day for crossbred cows and 11.48 kilograms per day for exotic cows. However, according to some experts, the milk of native cows has higher nutritional value and therefore their declining population can have long-term health and environmental effects.

Today India is largely self-sufficient in milk production. Until the country gained independence in 1947, milk production and trade were almost exclusively in the household sector. In the 1930s and 1940s isolated attempts were made to set up cooperatives for milk production, but this was only successful after independence. Milk production in India roughly tripled between 1968 and 2001 when it reached 80 million tons per year. From 2004 to 2005 milk production was estimated at 90.7 million tons. As of 2010, the dairy industry represented 20% of India's gross agricultural production.

There are roughly 4 million dairy farmers in Maharashtra alone, although Gujarat had the highest milk production of any Indian state or union territory as of 2014. The livestock sector in India is characterized by large numbers but low inter-species productivity. As of 1992, the number of cattle, the most populous species, was 204 million. Milk production in India comes mainly from small dairy farmers. Most of India's 75 million rural dairy farms consist of 10 or less cattle and are family owned and operated.

Use of buffalo

The dairy industry in India is unique among major milk producing countries in terms of its large percentage of buffalo milk. By 2013, buffalos made up more than half of all milk produced in the country, although that number has dropped to less than 50% due to increasing consumer demand for cow's milk. While there are a number of recognized buffalo breeds, more than half of the buffalo are indescribable. The Murrah is the most popular milk breed and has also attracted demand from other countries. The buffalo Nili-Ravi and Jafarabadi also produce good yields.

Dairy farmers in the many states prefer buffalo because of the revered status of the cow, making it difficult to dispose of dry cows, while water buffalo are usually sold for slaughter once they have exceeded their milk cycle or when yields decline. The slaughter of cows is prohibited in most Indian states.

Buffaloes metabolize inferior feed more efficiently than cattle and buffalo keeping is less expensive than ranching. They also produce higher yields than native cattle species.

Some farmers prefer buffalo mulk because of the higher fat content of milk, as milk prices are determined by the fat content. Buffalo milk contains 7–7.5% fat, almost twice as much as cow milk. Some traditional dairy products owe their properties to buffalo milk. It's preferred for making high-fat dairy products like paneer, although cow's milk is preferred for chhena.

Because of several biochemical differences from cow's milk, many conventional milk processing technologies developed for cow's milk are unsuitable for buffalo milk. Inadequate research has limited productivity gains in the buffalo milk industry. In general, scientific results obtained with cow's milk cannot be extrapolated to buffalo milk.

Crossbreeding programs for cattle

Crossbreeding of cattle began in India in 1875 but was not noticed by policy makers until 1961.Since 1965, crossing native breeds with exotic breeds has been done extensively to improve milk production. However, such programs have generated much controversy.

The first data on the population of crossbred cattle from the 1982 cattle census showed they made up 4.6% of the country's cattle. Half of them were in Uttar Pradesh and Kerala, with Kerala having crossbred to replace 46% of its native cattle.

In 1965, the Panel on Animal Husbandry recommended the use of Jersey cattle and the limited use of Brown Swiss and Holstein Friesian cattle for crossbreeding. After experimentation, new breeds such as Jersind (at the Allahabad Agricultural Institute), Karan Swiss, Karan Fries (at the National Dairy Research Institute) and Sunandini (in Kerala) were developed.

A review in 1984 found that crossbred cows were better suited to high milk production than native cattle or buffalo. They were also found to be more efficient at converting feed into milk. Subsequent studies in later years came to similar conclusions and found the effects of the crossbreeding on production growth and rural development. The cross also resulted in increased conception rates, shorter dry periods, and significantly longer lengths of lactation.


Packaged milk

It is estimated that around 25% of all milk produced is commercially processed, of which around 70% is sold as packaged milk, while the remaining 30% is used in the manufacture of dairy products. Packaged milk is typically pasteurized milk and is usually a mixture of cow's milk and buffalo milk as most dairies do not have separate collection systems for it. It is sold in variants based on the fat content:

variant % Fat % solid-not-bold (SNSF)
Whole milk 6% 9%
Standardized milk 4,5% 8,5%
Tinted milk 3,0% 8,5%
Double milk 1,5% 9%
Skimmed milk 0,5% 8,7%

Dairy products

A wide variety of dairy products are made in India using methods that have evolved in complex ways. As early as the 1630s, the Bengal region was known for its milk-based desserts, for which the region is known to this day. According to a 2014 estimate by Euromonitor, retail packaged dairy sales were $ 10.2 billion.

Fermentation-based processes are used to make products such as Dahi, Shrikhand, Mishti Doi, Lassi, and Chaas. About 7–9% of total milk production is used to make dahi, which are intended for direct consumption. Dahi is mostly made at home, but it is also made industrially. Shrikhand is sweetened and drained dahi that is very popular in western and parts of southern India. Mishti doi is another variant of sweetened dahi that is popular in the east of the country. While cane sugar is commonly used as a sweetener, some varieties can use palm jaggery. Shrikhand and Mishti Doi are usually consumed as desserts or snacks. Lassi is a sweetened buttermilk popular in northern India. Lassi is industrially manufactured through ultra-high temperature processing.

Additive coagulation processes result in paneer and chhena. Paneer is made by adding an acidic coagulant to the heated milk, then squeezing the mixture under mechanical pressure and draining it. Paneer was made in private households with high-fat buffalo milk in the past and is one of the most commonly used dairy products. An estimated 5% of all milk is processed into paneer. Chhena is another traditional dairy product that is also made by adding an organic acid coagulant to hot milk. It's similar to paneer, but softer and therefore shapeless. It is not consumed directly, but is used as a base or filling material in the preparation of a wide variety of Indian sweets such as rasgulla, rasmalai and sandesh. The country's chhena production was estimated at 200,000 tons per year in 2009.


Milk consumption is not evenly distributed in India. The people of northwest India are major consumers; Northeast Europeans consume less. In states with higher meat and egg consumption, a lower milk consumption is found, since dairy products are one of the few sources of protein for vegetarians. Milk has an income elasticity of demand that is greater than one: consumption increases with increasing income.

The per capita consumption of milk over 30 days between 2011 and 2012 was 4.333 liters for rural households and 5.422 liters for urban households. The corresponding monthly expenses were £ 116.33 for rural and £ 186.47 for urban consumers.

As of 2018, liquid milk consumption was forecast to be 67.7 million tons, increasing by 6 to 7 million tons annually. Ghee is the most consumed of the added value dairy products. Demand for non-fat dry milk (NFDM) and butter was forecast at 600,000 tons and 5.6 million tons, respectively. The demand for pasteurized milk produced in the formal (organized) sector has increased, probably due to its perceived security against milk produced in the non-organized sector.


Cattle and milk production

Illustration from cow husbandry in India , a work from 1900 on animal husbandry.

The main regulatory authority for milk production is the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairy Farming (DAH & D), which is subordinate to the Ministry of Animal Husbandry, Dairy Farming and Fisheries. Before 1991 the dairy was managed in a department of the Ministry of Agriculture. A separate department has been established to consolidate the functions of the Ministries of Agriculture and Food Processing related to dairy products. DAH & D manages the cattle and deals with issues related to the development of the dairy industry. It is also the managing authority of the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), a research institute set up by Verghese Curiae to finance and develop the Indian dairy industry. The NDDB also manages the National Milk Plan on behalf of the Government of India. Within DAH & D, the Cattle Division focuses on the development of dairy products. Since 2014, the birthday of Verghese Kurien on November 26th has been celebrated as National Milk Day.

Cattle health certification is carried out by the Veterinary Council of India, which is funded by DAH&D. The Veterinary Council of India lays down rules for the control of dairy cattle, as well as measures to control the spread of disease and strengthen livestock. Cattle in the dairy industry are also regulated by the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960, which provides guidelines for milking, artificial insemination and transportation of cattle. These guidelines are monitored and enforced by DAH & D. The slaughter of dairy cattle and especially cows is prohibited in many states of India. In 2017, the Union Government adopted the Regulations on the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Ordinance on the Livestock Market) 2017, which prohibited the sale of dairy cattle for slaughter.

Under the Essential Commodities Act of 1955, the Government of India can issue orders to control the regulation, supply and sale of products in India. The Ordinance on Milk and Dairy Products (MMPO), enacted under this 1992 Act, is still in force and stipulates that every person who handles more than 10,000 liters of milk must register with the central government and the state government.

Adulteration and Food Safety

"Synthetic milk" - a mixture of powdered urea detergent, vegetable oil, fat and salt, and water - was openly sold as milk in the northern Indian states. The mix is ​​similar in color and fat to natural milk, but can be made for a fraction of the price. Adulteration of ghee, sweets and other dairy products with lard and animal fats are common in India. Widespread adulteration has been observed during the Christmas season, when the demand for sweets and other dairy products increases. The Supreme Court of India has advocated life imprisonment as the maximum sentence for adulterated milk and this has been implemented in Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Odisha.

The regulator for human consumption dairy products is the Indian Food Safety and Standards Authority (FSSAI), which is under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of the Government of India. A survey by the FSSAI in 2019 found that 93% of the milk samples tested were safe for human consumption, but almost 41% of the samples did not meet a certain safety parameter. It has been found that contamination is a more serious problem than adulteration. The contaminants found included aflatoxin M1 (in 5.7% of the samples) and antibiotics (1.2%). Adulterers - hydrogen peroxide, urea, detergents, and neutralizers - were found in 12 of the 6,432 samples tested. In May 2020, a report from the Consumer Guidance Society of India (CGSI) found that 79% of milk in Maharashtra is adulterated.

Ecological damage

In May 2020, the National Green Tribunal chaired the Central Pollution Control Board to issue guidelines that pollution control authorities need to monitor the environmental impact of the dairy industry in India, with particular attention to the impact on local waters, the amount of methane - Emissions from dairy farming and handling of animal waste. The instructions came during a hearing on an environmental compliance case by dairies in India. The new guidelines, issued accordingly by the Central Pollution Control Board, require dairies to be located a minimum distance from residential areas and roads, and that a permit system, regular environmental reviews and controls of water use by dairy farms be put in place.



India is currently imposing tariffs on imported dairy products, including processed milk powder and milk derivatives such as butter, cheese, whey and yogurt. Of these, whey and cheese form India's largest imports, most of which are used for processing and food production. The question of easing import tariffs on dairy products was a negotiating point for India within the framework of the regional comprehensive economic partnership.

In 2011, the FSSAI banned all cheese from being imported into the country using animal rennet - a substance extracted from the stomach of newborn calves, killing the animal in the process. The import of animal rennet itself has been banned since 1984.

In 2020, an industry proposal to allow skimmed milk powder to be imported into India without import duties met with protests and opposition from Indian milk producers, including Amul, as it would affect domestic milk production.

For religious reasons, most dairy products must be imported into India to certify that the animals concerned have not been fed feed containing ruminant extracts. As a result, most US dairy products are banned from imports. The Indian and US governments have held trade talks on US access to the Indian dairy market.

Since 2008 the Indian government has banned the import of milk and products containing it from China. These bans were in response to the reported presence of melamine - a toxic substance - in milk.


During 2019-20 India exported 51,421.85 tons of dairy products, for a total value of ₹ 1,341.03 crore (US $ 186,710,000). The main destinations for its exports were the United Arab Emirates, Bhutan, Turkey, Egypt and the United States. Due to the high domestic consumption at uncompetitive world market prices, exports of dairy products in India are minimal.

See also



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  • Doniger, Wendy (2009). The Hindus: An Alternative Story . New York: penguin group. ISBN. OCLC 1139650604.
  • Hirata, Masahiro (March 2020). Milk culture in Eurasia: building a monogenesis bipolarization hypothesis . Springer nature. ISBN.
  • Intodia, Vijay (October 13, 2017). "India Dairy Products Annual 2017" (PDF). USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, United States Department of Agriculture.
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  • Ministry of Animal Husbandry, Dairy Farming and Fisheries (2019). Annual report 2018–19 (PDF). Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Government of India.
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  • Rajendran, K .; Mohanty, Samarendu (2004). "Dairy Cooperatives and Milk Marketing in India: Limitations and Opportunities". Journal of Food Distribution Research . 35 (2): 34-41. doi: 10.22004 / ag.econ.27233.
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  • Steinkraus, Keith, ed. (1996). Handbook of indigenous fermented foods, 2nd edition, revised and expanded . CRC Press. ISBN.
  • Venkatasubramanian, V .; Singh, AK; Rao, SVN (2003). Milk Development in India: An Assessment of Challenges and Achievements . New Delhi: Concept Publishing. ISBN.
  • Wiley, Andrea S. (2014). Dairy Cultures: The Biology and Importance of Dairy Products in the United States and India . Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. ISBN. JSTOR j.ctt6wps0f. OCLC 881281582.
  • Wiley, Andrea S. (2017). Cohen, Mathilde; Otomo, Yoriko (Ed.). Making milk: past, present and future of our staple foods . Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN.

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