Devendra Shah was at his dairy plant in early 2007 when he was informed that an executive from Danone India wanted to speak with him. Intrigued at what a competitor could possibly want, Shah — chairman of the ₹880-crore Parag Milk Foods — answered the phone and was taken aback when asked whether senior officials from the world’s biggest yogurt maker could call on him. He said yes, and a couple of days later, two top Danone executives made the trip to Manchar, 60 km from Pune. They spent the better part of the day at the facility that houses India’s largest cow farm and Asia’s biggest cheese factory but their focus wasn’t on milk or cheese. “The conversation was about what Danone could do with the yogurt market in India,” recalls Shah.
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