A New Zealand trade visit involving India’s largest dairy brand, AMUL, has been marred by allegations that a female farm worker was sexually harassed by two members of the ministerial-level delegation. A woman working at the farm in Waimakariri on South Island alleged she was “grabbed” and had “unwanted photographs taken” by two men who were part of a co-operative linked to dairy giant Amul.
The incident is said to have occurred on April 17 during a trade event that was attended by a New Zealand government minister and delegates.
Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF), which retails under the popular Amul brand in India, has denied all allegations, saying the accusations are motivated by “some lobbies with vested interests who seek to derail a prospective dairy partnership with New Zealand.”
Meanwhile, in wake of the incident, a major rift has erupted between the apex milk cooperative body and its member, the Kaira District Cooperatives Milk Producers Union Ltd (KDCMPUL), popularly known as the Amul Dairy. Kaira Dairy owns the registered trademark “Amul” while the GCMMF markets its products under the brand, in accordance with a strategic partnership.
In the latest development, Kaira Dairy has warned the GCMMF that it would have to stop using “Amul” as a brand name if the allegations are proven right.
Kaira Dairy’s milk powder and butter plant was inaugurated in 1955 by then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and it started branding its products as Amul. GCMMF was formed later in 1973.
KDCMPUL chairman, Vipul Patel informed having spoken to the GCMMF managing director, Jayen Mehta, who “strongly denied the incident.”
Despite being present, both Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and Agriculture Under-Secretary Jo Luxton claimed not to have seen the occurrence. The issue had been brought to the attention of the ministry, according to Phil Houlding, director of international policy at the Ministry for Primary Industries.
Currently, India does not now permit the import of dairy products, but if and when it does, it will undoubtedly change the game for New Zealand exporters.
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