India sets up body to oversee new export packaging standards

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

India sets up body to oversee new export packaging standards

Related tags: International trade, Food

Faced with mounting import rejections overseas, India is working on new packaging standards for food shipments to developed markets that it is hoped will also boost trade.

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry has so far set up a standing committee to devise regulations governing the packaging off 500 export goods, including fresh fruits and vegetables, spices, tea, and coffee.

The committee’s mission is to formulate these standards so they plug into the regulations of countries and trading blocs such as America, Japan, Asean and the European Union.

Comprised of representatives of the Indian Institute of Packaging, the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority, and research institutes and industry associations, the body will also help introduce a degree course in packaging, and research appropriate materials for different products.

A large amount of contamination can happen during transit if the packaging is not done properly,” ​an anonymous ministry official told Economic Times, ​adding that the the new regulations will help in increased business for exporters at a time when the government is keen to promote exports of fresh and processed foods.

We have already suggested standards for packaging fresh fruits and vegetables and submitted it to the ministry and are working on packaging for spices and tea​,” said NC Saha, director of Indian Institute of Packaging, and a member secretary of the standing committee. 

Meanwhile, India is tightening up quality controls for consumer goods and food imports in a bid to curb cheap imports from China.

The sectors targeted are reportedly ones which China controls more than two-thirds of the market, for which there have been complaints of substandard products.

Officials have been told to ramp up their monitoring and testing of compliance to 23,000 Indian standards across a number of segments. 

Bilateral trade between India and China boomed to $71.45 billion in 2016-17 from $1.83 billion in 1999-2000–albeit mostly in China’s favour. 

More from South Asia...

World Food India breaks $10bn deals mark ahead of opening

India’s government-backed World food India trade show is poised to attract more than US$10bn in investment deals and generate 1m new jobs over the next three years.

Speaking at the event’s curtain-raiser, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, minister of food processing industries, said it would “reinvigorate India's position as a global food factory and a global sourcing hub​” when it opens on November 3.

Outlining her vision for World Food India, Badal said: "The Indian economy has global players from both India and abroad. The government is creating the right infrastructure, an enabling environment and an innovation culture to foster strategic partnerships. World Food India 2017 provides that platform for partnerships​."

The three-day exhibition and conference will see participation from mote than 200 companies from 30 countries, 18 ministerial and business delegations, and nearly 50 global chief executives, along with bosses of leading domestic food processing companies.

In her address, Badal said the organisers had set a US$10bn investment target. 

I am happy to share that we have already achieved the target. More investment is likely to flow as we still have two-three weeks for the event​,” she said, adding that this inflow would bring new jobs to food processing and ancillary segments such as retail.

We today have a US$600bn retail sector, of which 70% is food retail, and it will treble by 2020. Expenditure on food will also double next in six years. There is a huge market​,” the minister added.

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