Food Bill to boost revenue: Sahai

New Delhi, July 26 | Updated: Jul 27 2006, 05:30am hrs
The processed food retailing will account for 40% of 5,000 new retail outlets expected to open in India in the next two years.

While foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail remains a political question, the government does not want to eliminate small players instead, it will create a world market for the products, said Subodh Kant Sahai, minister of state (independent charge) of food processing industries at a CII seminar on packaging on Wednesday.

Major chains such as Walmart had assured the government that it would source up to $30 billion a year from India for its global supply chain, the minister said.

In addition, there are several aggressive domestic players on the retail front.

Commenting on the Food and Safety Standards Bill 2005, the minister said, the Bill would give a boost to the food processing and packaging sector.

Food habits were changing and the packaging sector was becoming increasingly essential for food processing, he said.

India is planning 60 new millennium cities that would usher in a new culture where housewives will not cook whole meals but buy pre-cooked food that was ready to eat.

However, packaging remains expensive in India and accounts for a significant portion of the cost of processed food.

This needs to be reduced through new technology and better materials, said Sahai.

The minister said, the proposed Bill would not cover street food vendors. However, they needed to be motivated to improve their quality.

They shall also have access to quality packaging techniques and material in order to upgrade their quality and services.