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Commerce ministry hosts Indus Foods, begins export policy consultation
Monday, 12 March, 2018, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Our Bureau, Mumbai
The Ministry of Commerce and Industries, Government of India, hosted Indus Foods, an event exclusive to the food sector, and commenced consultation for the food export policy. It is expected to come up with the contours in the coming month.

The event was along the lines of the inaugural World Food India Summit, which took place in New Delhi in November 2017.

That event, which was hosted by the ministry of food processing industries (MoFPI), witnessed the participation of 50 global chief executive officers representing the sector and the inking of Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) worth $14 billion.

Surge in exports
This step by the commerce ministry was not merely a speculative affair, but in the last two or three years, the country has witnessed a surge in the exports of processed foods.

Samidha Gupta, assistant general manager, Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), said, “For the last two years, India is witnessing continuous growth in terms of the exports of food products.”

“In recent times, India is witnessing an increasing trend towards the exports of processed foods due to the awareness about profit and the benefits of processed foods,” she added.

India’s exports of processed foods in 2016-17 amounted to Rs 27,263.94 crore.

Product Name

2017-18 (April - December)

2016-17 (April - December)


Quantity in metric tonne

$ million

Quantity in metric tonne

$ million

Fresh fruits

3,96,408

391.08

4,87,441

402.70

Fresh vegetables

17,54,300

581.18

23,87,742

640.11

Processed fruits and juices

4,03,040.28

460.40

3,90,455.32

420.72

Processed vegetables

1,46,018.59

197.07

1,35,537.29

202.50



J P Meena, secretary, MoFPI, said, “The exports of processed foods are growing rapidly and the growth is approximately 12 per cent annually. There is an increasing demand for food products from Japan, South Korea and the Middle-East, besides the European Union (EU) and the Americas.”

India’s geographical location gives it an opportunity to cater to the needs of the countries to both its west and east. Being at the centre, it can connect to Africa, the EU and the Middle-East, which are to its west, and to the member countries of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), Australia and Japan, which are to its east.

Moreover, the countries which were dependent on the China for their food import are now looking for diversifying their sourcing areas. And India is emerging a major player because of its production surplus and varied climatic zones.

Government policies to promote processed foods
Experts opined that the government has offered several benefits in terms of incentives on installation of plant and machinery to the food processing sector. In fact, it has allocated nearly $1 billion under the Twelfth Five-year Plan (which was between 2012 and 2017) to implement various schemes for the sector’s promotion and development. The schemes and policies aim to make it more competitive and market-oriented.

R B Smarta, managing director, Interlink Marketing Consultancy Pvt Ltd, said, “The government offers several fiscal incentives to small and medium enterprises to set up food processing facilities.”

“The government has established 60 fully equipped Agri-Export Zones (AEZs). In addition to these, 42 mega food parks and 128 cold chains are under implementation to boost agricultural and food processing exports. Mega food parks help to convert fresh fruits and vegetables into value-added products,” he added.

The Budget spoke about setting up special facilities for testing purposes in mega food parks to ensure food safety to avoid any hindrance thereunder for export purpose.

And the government has taken steps to launch a new scheme – the Scheme for Agro-Marine Processing and Development Of Agro-Processing Clusters (SAMPADA) - by 2019-20. Rs 6,000 crore has already been set aside for the same.

Besides, MoFPI is in the process of making the national policy on food processing, which aims to increase the level of food processing from 10 per cent to 25 per cent by 2025.

Smarta expected that India’s global food trade was expected to grow from 1.6 per cent to three per cent, along with a rise in perishable processed food items from six per cent to 20 per cent.

“The gradual increase in food processing is set to reduce the damage after harvest, which has been estimated to be approximately 30 per cent of India’s overall farm production,” he added.

Foreign direct investment (FDI) up to 100 per cent in beverages is permitted under the automatic route for processed food items, excluding alcoholic beverages and a few other restricted items. Most of the processed food items were exempted from the licensing and excise duties.

And the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) also plans to invest around Rs 482 crore ($72.3 million) to strengthen the food testing infrastructure in India, by upgrading 59 existing food testing laboratories and setting up 62 new mobile testing labs across the country.

While APEDA, the industry and the Centre are together setting up a corpus trust fund of Rs 50 crore to promote Indian processed foods in international markets.
 
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