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NEW DELHI: Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd (GCMMF) said that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)'s suggestion that Amul switch to selling vegan products could hamper livelihoods of over 100 million farmers that depend on the brand for daily milk procurement.

GCMMF, India’s largest dairy cooperative, with an annual turnover of 52,000 crore, sells Amul branded dairy products. “Peta wants Amul to snatch livelihood of 100 million poor farmers and handover it's all resources built in 75 years with farmers money to market genetically modified Soya of rich MNC at exorbitant prices ,which average lower middle class can't afford," R.S. Sodhi, managing director, GCMMF said on social media platform Twitter on Friday.

In a 27 May letter addressed to Sodhi, PETA said that Amul should look at benefiting from the booming vegan food and milk market.

A vegan diet refers to the practice of avoiding animal products—including abstaining from dairy-based products. The diet largely consists of plants such as vegetables, grains, nuts and fruits and foods made from plants.

“We would again like to encourage Amul to benefit from the booming vegan food and milk market, instead of wasting resources trying to fight the demand for plant-based products that is only growing. Other companies are responding to market changes, and Amul can, too," PETA said.

GCMMF is owned by 3.6 million farmers. Of these, around 2.6 million farmers bring their milk twice daily to 18,600 village societies from where chilled milk is transported to district milk unions for processing into packaged milk and value-added products. The products then reach over a billion consumers daily through 10,000 distributors and a million retailers, Mint reported earlier.

Sodhi further asked whether PETA will give livelihood dairy farmers—70% of which are landless. “…who will pay for children school fee .. how many can afford expensive lab manufactured factory food made out of chemicals ... And synthetic vitamins."

In its letter, PETA had added that globally several companies are capitalizing on the growing consumer shift towards dairy alternatives. For instance, Nestlé, the world’s largest food maker, is already profiting from the pervasive demand for vegan milk through its acquisition of Ecuador’s Terrafertil, PETA said.

Amul could certainly profit from the rising interest in vegan products such as vegan cheeses, yogurts, the animal rights group wrote in its letter.

It cited data from a report by Grand View Research saying that demand for vegan food and beverages has led to the global dairy alternatives market to reach an estimated $52.58 billion by 2028.

“Changing consumer preferences caused by environmental or moral concerns resulting in the mass adoption of vegan or similar diets are expected to positively impact the market growth over the forecast period," it said in its letter citing research.

"French dairy giant Danone acquired a non-dairy milk manufacturer in 2016 and dedicated a new building entirely to its non-dairy products, including yogurt. US-based General Mills has its own dairy-free yogurt made from coconut milk for its Yoplait brand, and the Canadian dairy group Saputo has launched a dairy-free range. Last year, India’s dairy business Epigamia launched coconut milk yogurts as part of its goal to contemporise the Indian dairy industry," PETA added.

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