Despite being a leading food producer, little is processed or exported, underpinning the nation’s big potential for growth, said the report’s authors.
“International attention is now increasingly focused on the rapidly growing food processing sector,” said the report. “Though there is tremendous potential in the food processing industry, it needs strong and dependable technologies and chain facilities to support the increasing production of various perishable products.”
Both American and European food companies are looking towards starting joint ventures with Indian food industries for export and import of food products and beverages and processing.
The report identified particularly strong growth in demand for processed foods, gourmet foods, health foods, frozen foods, bakery items, ready-to-eat delicacies, fruit drinks and beverages.
In order to fully exploit processing and export potential, Indian food processors will have to implement international safety and quality standards, said the report’s authors.
Growth in India’s food sector is fueled by the phasing out of agricultural subsidies in developed countries under the World Trade Organisation agreements and the rationalisation of tariffs and trade restrictions on food items. “Countries like India will have access to larger export markets and make them more price competitive in international markets in both processed and fresh produce,” said the report.
The report estimated Indian food and beverage retail sales at $135bn with an annual growth rate of 10-15 per cent. India produces 41 per cent of the world's mangoes, 28 per cent of tea, 23 per cent of bananas, 24 per cent cashew nuts, 36 per cent of green peas and 10 per cent of onions.
The nation, which has a current population of about 1,130m, is the world’s largest producer of milk, its second largest producer of food grains and fruits and vegetables. It is also one of the world’s leading producers of meat, poultry and marine products.
Determined to develop its food processing sector at a faster pace, the Indian ministry of food processing industries has launched a strategy intended to double the size of the sector to Rs 8,20,000 crore by 2009-10 and treble it to Rs 13,50,000 crore by 2014-15.