Bharti Group kickstarts food processing biz, to buy more farms

Ahmedabad, Nov 25 | Updated: Nov 26 2005, 07:58am hrs
Bharti group has acquired few farms to kickstart its food-processing units to be run under its food-processing and horticulture business to be started from early next year.

The process of acquiring other farms is on, and the group will capture the required units within some time, sources told FE.

Bharti Enterprises Ltd (BEL) had earlier announced a foray into the sector through FieldFresh Foods Private Ltd, a 50:50 joint venture with the Rothschild Group-controlled ELRo Holdings India Ltd.

According to the chairman and group managing director of BEL, Sunil Bharti Mittal, the new venture would involve an initial investment of $50 million (Rs 250 crore), with both BEL and ELRo Holdings contributing $10 million each worth of equity.

The project would initially be launched in major green states of India, namely, Punjab, Haryana and Uttaranchal. We will come up with huge investment and spread our wings to all farm rich states, Mr Mittal told FE.

He was here to deliver the leadership series address at ongoing Confluence 2005 the international B-school fest at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad.

In view of the prospective lucrative returns from the horticulture and food-processing business, Mr Mittal said that new era Greenfield project would commence shortly. We are also concerned about agriculture-related businesses as it would provide us the leading platform in the coming days, he said.

The new companys core business would be in the export of fresh fruits and vegetables from the country to markets such as the European Union, the United Kingdom, South East Asia and West Asia.

FieldFresh would first source fresh fruits and vegetables through the contract-farming route from Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Haryana and West Uttar Pradesh.

The products to be covered include apple, kino (citrus), litchi, cherry, tomato, baby corn, okra, lettuce, etc.

In the second stage, these activities will be expanded to other parts, particularly the premier horticulture belt of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh for products such as grapes, mangoes and bananas.

Stating that Gujarat was an impressive destination for investment, Mr Mittal said that in the coming years, Bharti group would take up some investment plans to get good returns from the state.

Gujarat has good market in telecom business and therefore we would give emphasis on Gujarat in the coming days, he added.