RS Sodhi, former managing director of dairy giant Amul who had stepped down from his position early in January in a sudden turn of events that took the corporate world by storm, will join Reliance Industries’ retail arm Reliance Retail Ventures, media reports said.
Sodhi, who in his 41-year run helped Amul consolidate its undisputed top slot in the dairy industry by diversifying to new milk and dairy-based products, is expected to guide Reliance’s Isha Ambani-led retail business build its grocery vertical, with a focus on fruits and vegetables as well as expand its base in the consumer brands segment, the reports said.
However, there is also increased speculation that Reliance might be planning to make its way into the booming dairy market that is fueled by a rising demand for branded packaged milk products such as curd, cheese, flavored milk, butter, ghee, spreads, etc.
India is the world’s largest milk producer, accounting for about 24% of the world’s milk production. India’s milk production increased at a CAGR of 6.2% from 146.31 million tons (MT) in 2014-15 to 209.96 MT in 2020-21, according to India Brand Equity Foundation data. Apeda reports that India exported dairy products worth US $391.59 million in 2021-22.
Interestingly, Reliance had once tried its luck in the diary sector way back in 2007, offering milk and allied products such as flavored milk, butter, ghee, curd, dairy whitener, sweets and skimmed milk powder – which it later sold to Heritage Foods in 2016. This was a time when Sodhi was heading Amul.
Sodhi was unavailable for a comment on his joining of Reliance. Before Sodhi, Reliance’s last big hire in the FMCG sector was former Coca-Cola India chairman T Krishnakumar.