India's largest dairy brand Amul is expanding beyond India for the first time by planning to launch its first overseas production facility in the US.

In a joint venture with Summit Milk Products, a local dairy in upstate New York, Amul will produce specialised products for the sizeable Indian community living on the east coast of the US. A key target market will be New York City - which has more than 200,000 south Asian residents.

"This is very big step," Rupinder Singh Sodhi, managing director of Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF), which owns Amul brand, told just-food. "Gradually we are expanding our footprints of production facilities."

Sodhi said the company has been working on this project for the past two years and initially the plant will only produce paneer (cottage cheese), ghee (clarified butter) and lassi (the curd-based Indian drink). "We plan to increase this product range gradually," he said.

The GCMMF already exports US$17m worth of milk, ghee, cheese, paneer, yoghurt, ice cream and other milk products popular with Indians in 21 countries including the US, China, Japan and Australia.

Sodhi said production in the US will start within three months and the company is still projecting initial volumes.