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INTERVIEW

“150 cos of food sector from 32 countries at SIAL”
Monday, 16 September, 2019, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
SIAL, world's biggest food exhibition, is all set to take place in the national capital from September 19-21, 2019, at Pragati Maidan. The show will see participation by over 30 countries like China, France, Russia, South Korea, Canada, Spain and Switzerland to explore the untapped market in the country and make investments and deals in the food processing sector. The event will also focus on new innovations happening in the food processing industry. The event will be supported by Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises and few associations like Forum of Indian Food Importers, Indian Federation of Culinary Associations, Hospitality Purchase Managers Forum and so on.

Rajan Sharma
, MD, Interads Exhibitions Pvt. Ltd, hosts for the SIAL India event, in an email interaction with Ashwani Maindola highlighted the opportunities and challenges in the food processing sector and the influence of such events in its growth. Excerpts:

Describe SIAL, the journey so far and the reason for hosting it in India?
SIAL is the biggest celebration of food. It started from Paris in 1964 and it has become the world’s biggest food exhibition. It is the ideal networking & business platform for the food & beverage industry stakeholders who are keen to showcase their innovative products and get an opportunity to grow their business globally. More than 30 countries will be presenting their products at SIAL India to retail and food service professionals at Pragati Maidan from Sept 19-21, 2019. The main attraction of the three-day long exhibition will be SIAL Innovation - A unique celebration of innovative food and beverage products. The jury comprising of food industry experts will reveal the most innovative products in the food industry in terms of technology, ingredients, recipe, equipment and services. India has great potential in the food processing industry and SIAL would provide the best to the opportunities to accelerate the growth.

Who are the leading players participating in the exhibition and what the food processing sector can expect from SIAL’s Delhi show?
More than 300 exhibitors from over 30 countries are participating this year at SIAL India. The EU, USA, Canada, Turkey, Africa, Sri Lanka are among the few participants. Wingreens, Savenica, McCain, Doehlar, Epicure and Veeba are amongst the few leading India companies participating at SIAL India.

What can the food processing sector expect from SIAL’s Delhi show?
The grand event will be the largest assembly of all global and domestic stakeholders of food & beverage industry including the associated ministries and departments, CEOs of major food processing companies, industry associations and ambassadors/high commissioners of leading food processing/food retailing from different countries. SIAL India is the destination for the key leaders and influencers like decision makers, buyers, investors, traders, retailers from organised and unorganised sector, purchase managers, top chefs, government institutions, airline and railway food catering departments, food startups, all are part of SIAL India 2019. The show brings important seminars, investment opportunities, exhibition activities, roundtables, national sessions, B2B and B2G networking etc. The show has participation of more than 150 companies of the food sector from 32 countries which present a set of opportunities directly to the Indian food processing sector.

In what way it brings newer opportunities for Indian companies and vice-versa? Elaborate.
SIAL India will bring latest industry trends, new technologies, exchanging ideas and opportunities for Indian players under one roof. SIAL India will be beneficial for manufacturers, exporters, owners and B2B buyers to attend the three-day long exhibition.

How do you see the role of government in promoting food processing in the Indian market and do you see enough policy intervention for the same?
The government had taken the objective to promote business under the Make in India initiative. There is a big hand of government behind the rising food industry by making fruit and vegetable products, condensed milk, ice cream, and meat products all exempt from the Central Excise Duty. At SIAL, the support being extended by Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises, and associations like Forum of Indian Food Importers, Indian Federation of Culinary Associations, Hospitality Purchase Managers Forum etc. will help boost the initiative and help in exploring more opportunities in the food processing sector for both Indian and foreign companies.

There are murmurs of slowdown in the Indian economy, how do you see Indian food processing sector’s growth under the current situation?
India’s food processing sector whose estimated worth is $135 billion and rising further at the rate of 8 per cent per annum. The Indian food industry is the sixth-largest market in the world. India encompasses 127 agro-climatic zones, and they provide a fertile ground for innumerable plant-based edibles, which not only fulfil the demand of indigenous people but also cater to global consumers. All of these favourable factors provide a good growth recipe. Also, with the invention of “Online Food Ordering Business,” food industry has taken a new path towards development by giving rise to new concepts in food and beverage offerings.

What challenges do you see as potential barriers for the growth in the food processing sector?
The challenges envisage the various factors affecting the growth of the food processing sector. First is the supply side bottleneck as dispersed marketable surplus because of low farm productivity, high seasonality, fragmented holdings, and this perishability which leads to a lack of distribution and supply of quality raw material. It affects the processing and exports. Then we have inadequate logistics and cold chain infrastructure, which results in the loss of more than 30 per cent of the produce from the farm. The storage and transportation issues also stand as a big problem.
 
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