Why is India’s largest dairy group seeking to delay a ban on plastic straws? | Company

New Delhi: Amul, India’s largest dairy group, has written to the government urging it to delay a planned ban on tiny plastic straws, saying the move would have a ‘negative impact’ on farmers and milk consumption of the world’s largest producer of this product.

Amul appealed in a letter reviewed by Reuters, dated May 28, which was sent to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office ahead of the July 1 ban on straws packed with small packets of juice and dairy products, a market estimated by one industry body to be worth $790 million. Amul sells billions of small cartons of dairy products with plastic straws each year.

The decision spooked Amul and global beverage majors including PepsiCo Inc and Coca-Cola, particularly after the government refused to change its stance and asked companies to switch to alternative straws, Reuters previously reported.

In its letter, signed by Chief Executive RS Sodhi, the $8 billion Amul Group said the straws helped promote milk consumption and called for the ban – which is part of Modi’s drive to phase out polluting single-use plastic – be postponed for a year. .

A delay would “bring enormous relief and benefits” to 100 million dairy farmers who “maintain our food security in terms of milk and dairy products”, Sodhi wrote.

Modi’s office did not respond to requests for comment from Reuters.

A source familiar with government thinking previously told Reuters the straws were a “low utility product” that should be replaced with paper straws or packs with redesigned spouts.

Sodhi declined to comment on his letter, but said Amul may have to sell packs without straws once the ban comes into force on July 1.

Priced between 5 rupees and 30 rupees, small packs of drinks containing juice and dairy products are extremely popular in India and part of a much larger market for these drinks.

Based in Modi’s home state of Gujarat in western India, Amul is also popular for its plastic bags containing milk, cheese and chocolates.

6 billion beverage packs sold each year in India

Pepsi’s Tropicana juice, as well as Coca-Cola’s Maaza and Parle Agro’s Frooti mango drinks, were also among the top-selling beverages. Industry estimates show that 6 billion of these packs are sold every year in India.

Praveen Aggarwal of Action Alliance for Recycling Beverage Cartons, which represents beverage majors, said companies were considering importing paper straws from China, Indonesia and other countries in light of the ban on come.

“There will be disruptions,” he said.

A person with direct knowledge of the matter said that Parle also wrote a letter to the Indian government, saying there was not enough local production of alternative straws and that imported paper and biodegradable variants were around 250 % more expensive.

Parle Agro managing director Schauna Chauhan said the company had started importing paper straws for the time being, but it was not sustainable. “The economy just doesn’t match a 10 rupee product,” she said.

Pepsi and Coca-Cola declined to comment.

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