According to a study titled ‘Food processing sector-Challenges & growth enablers,’ jointly conducted by ASSOCHAM and Grant Thornton, the Indian food and retail market is expected to touch $482 billion by 2020 from $258 bn in 2015. The report further added that the Indian food processing sector has potential to attract $33 bn of investment and generate employment of 9 million (mn) persons’ days by 2024. Currently, the food processing industry in India stands at $121 billion and offers a massive opportunity for growth. However, the study says that this sector should also focus on product conformity with global standards and quality together with factors like logistics traceability and safety, quality of packaging and delivery.
“There is a need for policy intervention and field level changes for India to develop global competitiveness in many related sub-sectors and ensure that they are firmly entrenched in global value chains,” the study jointly conducted by ASSOCHAM and Grant Thornton said. It recognised the steps taken by both central as well as state governments be it 100 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) under government approval route for trading, including through e-commerce, in respect of food products manufactured or produced in India; enhanced investment in food processing; proactive steps simplifying ‘ease of doing business’, delisting of horticulture crops and insurance schemes to support the vulnerable farmers will make the sector more competitive and market-oriented.
“Given the trade in production of food commodities, the food processing industry in India is on an assured track of growth and profitability” the study said. “It is expected to attract phenomenal investment in capital, human, technological and financial areas,” it added.
As per the study, even marginal reductions in post-harvest losses of fruits and vegetables which are to the tune of about 25-30 per cent are bound to give better returns and improve farmers’ level of incomes. It also believes that there is a huge scope for investment in food processing technologies, skill development and equipment as total food production in India is estimated to double in next 10 years. The report said that the fast growth and simultaneous improvement in the development of value chain are of great importance to achieve favourable terms of trade for India’s agriculture sector both in domestic and international markets.