Harsimrat Kaur Badal said her focus has been on attracting companies that would be able to reinvigorate a crumbling and under-utilised Indian supply chain through new processes and systems.
"I want to bring in the best technology and the best of the know-how for the creation of that infrastructure," she said in Chicago.
Badal said to control food wastage, India must first increase its processing levels. But to do that, infrastructure has to be created.
"We have a huge raw material base, but we process only 10%,” she added.
The minister said the purpose of her American visit has been to tell food processors, machine manufacturers, technology suppliers and refrigeration companies to come to India if they are looking to expand their footprint and increase their business.
"This is the area where we are investing. Bring your technology to India if you need to expand so that my people can pick up your technology and your machinery," she said.
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FSSAI training programme now in full swing across India
India’s regulator has embarked on a “massive” training programme to teach up to 600,000 food businesses how to maintain better safety standards over two years.
Pawan Agarwal, chief executive of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, said the initiative was particularly for small food companies that are not even aware of measures that can be taken to improve the safety of their products.
"So, we have taken up a massive programme for training and capacity building in food businesses. Once that happens, the standards of food safety will improve,” he said.
The initiative follows a ruling that at least one member of staff at every food business must have received certified training in food safety from the FSSAI, to assume the role of safety supervisor.
Medium and large businesses are being targeted in a first phase of the training programme, followed by smaller ones, Agarwal said.
Courses have been developed for 19 different business categories, each one lasting between one and three days. The goal is to bring the entire country up to a uniform level of food safety compliance.
"Different states are in different stages of evolution. In some states, it is very good. In some states, there is a gap. We are trying to work with all the states so that we can improve the quality of compliance by the food businesses," Agarwal said.
Ruchi to handle all of Patanjali’s big-box edible oils
Ruchi Soya Industries, India’s biggest edible oil manufacturer, has formed an exclusive arrangement with Patanjali Ayurved to sell and distribute its entire range of large-pack edible oils.
Under the terms of the deal, Ruchi will call on its distribution network across all regions of India, the companies said in a statement.
Ruchi will get exclusive distribution rights for all existing and future Patanjali edible oils. A detailed service agreement will apply for an initial period of three years, similar to a processing and packaging deal between the two companies that was signed in February.
Under that earlier arrangement, Ruchi has been able to process idle capacities of crude oil provided by Patanjali based on the Baba Ramdev-owned company’s specifications.
Ruchi chief operating officer Satendra Aggarwal said the Patanjali is hoping for its edible oil sales to reach US$3bn by 2020.
Ruchi stock rallied following the news, much to the relief of investors. Earlier this month Standard Chartered Bank filed an insolvency case against the agriculture-foods business over debt default.