Amul was spearheaded by Tribhuvandas Patel under the guidance of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. As a result, Kaira District Milk Union Limited was born in 1946 (later renamed to Amul). Tribhuvandas became the founding chairman of the organization and led it until his retirement in 70s. He hired Dr. Verghese Kurien in 1949. He convinced Dr. Kurien to stay and help with the mission. Under the chairmanship of Tribhuvandas, Dr. Kurien was initially the general manager and helped guide the technical and marketing efforts of Amul. Dr. Kurien was the chairman of Amul briefly after Tribhuvandas Patel died in 1994.
Kurien, founder-chairman of the GCMMF for more than 30 years (1973–2006), is credited with the success of Amul's marketing. Amul has ventured into markets overseas.
Amul cooperative registered on 19 December 1946 as a response to the exploitation of marginal milk producers by traders or agents of n the small city distances to deliver milk, often went sour in summer, to Polson. The prices of milk were arbitrarily determined. The government had given monopoly rights to Polson to collect milk from Kaira and supply it to Mumbai city.
Angered by the unfair trade practices, the farmers of Kaira approached Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel under the leadership of local farmer leader Tribhuvandas K. Patel. He advised them to form a cooperative (Kaira District Co-operative Milk Producers' Union) and supply milk directly to the Bombay Milk Scheme instead of Polson (who did the same but gave them low prices). He sent Morarji Desai to organise the farmers. In 1946, the milk farmers of the area went on a strike which led to the setting up of the cooperative to collect and process milk. Milk collection was decentralized, as most producers were marginal farmers who could deliver, at most, 1–2 litres of milk per day. Cooperatives were formed for each village, too. By June 1948, the KDCMPUL had started pasteurizing milk for the 'Bombay Milk Scheme'. Under the selfless leadership of Tribhuvandas Patel, in 1973, Amul celebrated its 25th Anniversary with Morarji Desai, Maniben Patel and Verghese Kurien.
The cooperative was further developed and managed by Dr. Verghese Kurien with H.M. Dalaya. Dalaya's innovation of making skim milk powder from buffalo milk (for the first time in the world) and a little later, with Kurien's help, making it on a commercial scale, led to the first modern dairy of the cooperative at Anand, which would compete against established players in the market.
The trio's (T. K. Patel, Kurien and Dalaya's) success at the cooperative's dairy soon spread to Anand's neighbourhood in Gujarat. Within a short span, five unions in other districts – Mehsana, Banaskantha, Baroda, Sabarkantha and Surat – were set up, following the approach sometimes described as the Anand pattern.
In 1970, it spearheaded the White Revolution of India. To combine forces and expand the market while saving on advertising and avoid competing against each other, the Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd., an apex marketing body of these district cooperatives, was set up in 1973. The Kaira Union, which had the brand name Amul with it since 1955, transferred it to GCMMF.