A lack of an appropriate cold chain infrastructure and increasing food losses in India has opened the doors for Ingersoll Rand India Ltd to begin offering cold chain consultancy services in the country, the company said last week.
A subsidiary of US-based Ingersoll Rand Plc, the company has entered the segment in India on the back of a growing opportunity arising out of India's increased food production, as well as a high percentage of food losses.
Manjunath MS, leader – business creation, Cold Chain Ingersoll Rand said that the cold chain segment in India is growing on the back of growth in organized retail, shift towards horticultural crops, and changing consumption pattern.
Manjunath pointed out that India wastes nearly 30-35 per cent of its perishable produce consisting of fruits & vegetables, meat, poultry, marine & milk products, thereby resulting in an estimated loss of approximately US$11bn – even as millions go hungry.
“This is largely due to the non-availability of an appropriate infrastructure – both static and mobile. A robust cold chain providing controlled temperature and humidity & gas control is the need of the hour,” he said.
Manjunath's claims have been backed by an Indian Parliamentary panel, which recently found that approximately US$10.8bn worth of fruit and vegetables are wasted in India every year due to insufficient storage and processing facilities, with 35 per cent wastage at the post-harvest level.
The report also found that food processing levels in India stand at 2.5 per cent, as compared to 78 per cent in Philippines, and 23 per cent in China, the report said. For seafood, poultry and buffalo meat, food processing levels in India stand at 26 per cent, 6 per cent and 20 per cent as against the 60 per cent in developed countries.
“The most crucial challenge the Indian food processing industry is facing today is the lack of suitable infrastructure in the shape of cold chain, packaging sectors, value added centres, modernized abattoirs etc,” Manjunath said.
He added that the greatest need is for better infrastructure capabilities, power subsidies, tax incentives, grants from the government, use of modern technology and integrated freight forwarders, as well as general infrastructure improvement.
He said the Indian cold chain industry is largely unorganised lacking basic cold chain industry requirements, with 75 per cent of processing units belong to unorganised sectors.
“The majority of food units are engaged in primary processing, production base of secondary and tertiary processed foods is low, resulting in low value addition. There are many challenges like lack of logistical support, uneven distribution of cold storage, erratic power supply, and human capital and domain skills,” he said.