Food processing going to play a vital part in the growth story of the country

The cold chain industry in India is growing and will treble the size by 2015. This change is the consequence of rapid changes in consumption patterns of the new and aware consumer and this rise is fuelled by the modern trade, along with the growing food, dairy and pharmaceutical industries in India.

But, India’s greatest need is for an effective and economically viable cold chain solution that will totally integrate the supply chain for all commodities from the production centers to the consumption centers, thereby reducing physical waste and loss of value of perishable commodities.

Inaugurating the 5th National Cold Chain Summit 2014, Mrs. Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Hon’ble Minister, Ministry of Food Processing Industries, Government of India, stated, “Cold chain plays an integral part in the development of our nation. In spite of all the challenges that we have faced, we are the second largest producer of fruit and cereal, third in marine production and have the largest livestock in the world. But in spite of growth in these sectors, the disparity in the growth in the food processing sector is amazing.”

The summit, organized by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) jointly with the Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI), Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) and National Centre for Cold Chain Development (NCCD) in the capital today had the theme: Enabling Innovations, Integration and Investments across the Food Value Chain.

Pointing to the fact that in the next 15 years consumption levels are going to treble, the Hon’ble Minister said, “There should be zero tolerance towards waste. Currently, there is Rs 44,000 crore of wastage and unless we work towards removing that, our growth story cannot be completed. The cold chain capacity of the country is 30 million metric tonne, whereas it produces around 200 million metric tonne of products.”

Citing examples of smaller nations like Malaysia, Phillipine and Thailand, the Minister said, “In these smaller nations, food processing is 80-90% compared to India where it’s a mere 10%. Our challenge lies in managing the perishables. Figures show that thousands of crores is lost due to wastage. That’s the tip of the iceberg; in reality, the figures are much higher. What we need is a cold chain grid in the country. The ministry is working towards a national food processing policy to bring under one umbrella different stakeholders presently engaged in the development of the food processing sector. Unless we bring down waste, we cannot control inflation.”

Talking about the challenges the industry faces, the Hon’ble Minister said, “The biggest challenge the industry faces is power, without which the cold chain cannot be successful. States need to invest in renewable energy and provide solar energy at subsidized rates.”
The Hon’ble Minister also released a report, ‘Study of Post Harvest Value Chain Management and Plan for Future Development: A CII study of Pomegranate in Karnataka’ during the event. The study was intended to find out the gap available in agricultural marketing and distribution for the produce to take suitable action by the state Government, in make cold chain development movement a reality in the state.

Speaking on the occasion, Siraj Hussain, Secretary, Ministry of Food Processing Industries, Government of India, said, “In addition to losses in the food chain, there is a need to reduce losses at consumer level. There is a substantial information gap when it comes to cold storage. We need more studies to assess the exact amount of requirement in the sector.” Laying thrust on online sale of fruits and vegetables, Hussain said, “Online retail stores can be a huge fillip for the cold storage industry. It can not only improve the supply chain but also delivery.”
According to Mr Dinesh Rai, Chairman, Warehousing Development and Regulatory Authority (WDRA), the Warehouses had a crucial role in the Cold Chain development. He added that the Warehouse receipts provided a significant degree of comfort to the bankers to lend to the FPOs and also gave the farmers an opportunity to avail interest subvention on the credit extended by the bankers.

Mr Pawanexh Kohli, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Advisor, National Centre for Cold Chain Development (NCCD) mooted on consistent supply of goods across the country, stressing on the fact that productivity should be gainful productivity.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr Sanjeev Chopra, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India, stated on the need to innovate and create awareness and integrate different skill sets and competency. “Innovation and integration is required to have a business model. The country needs to be connected with the flow of good; it’s only with regular sustained supply of goods that the government can reduce price fluctuations.”
Mr P Ravichandran, Chairman, CII Task Force on Cold Chain Development and President, Danfoss Industries Private Limited, while sharing the Charter and the Initiatives of the CII Task Force on Cold Chain development mentioned that CII Task Force is fully aligned with the Hon’ble Minister’s vision for Creating Robust Cold Chain Infrastructure by Instituting a National Farm-gate to Market Infrastructure to build the robust agri-infra backbone, Catalyzing investment through state and commodity specific intervention, Developing a concrete action plan consisting of a workable model for Private Public Partnership towards skill enhancement, Examine reasons for slow adoption of cold chains and the inertia in the sector and Enhancing Energy efficiency & sustainability.
Addressing the gathering, Mr B. Thiagarajan, Immediate Past Chairman, CII Task Force on Cold Chain Development and Executive Director & President, Blue Star Limited, said, “The food processing ministry and agriculture ministry with whom CII has shared a relation over the years have seen a lot of successes and setbacks and each time we have come out with innovations and reinvent ourselves to take this journey forward. Currently we are focused on how to link the Clean India Campaign to the development of cold chain. One example can be of recycling the bio waste in cities for the greater good of this movement.”  

The discussions and deliberations at the Summit aimed at enabling innovations, integration and investments across the food value chain and outreach to create sustainability of the sector. The summit saw participation of over 150 delegates from Government organizations like the National Horticulture Board, National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development, Ministry of New And Renewable Energy, Indian Council for Agriculture Research, National Centre for Cold Chain Development, National Productivity Council, National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management, Warehousing Development Regulatory Authority, and from the organizations in the private sector like the Blue Star Limited, Bayer Material Private Limited, Danfoss Industries, Frick India,Tamil Nadu Banana Growers Federation, Lloyd’s Insulation  India Limited, Yes Bank,  Pluss Polymers Pvt. Ltd., Marfin Projects Limited, Promethean Power Systems Inc., among others.