Need for the industry to setup own levels of standardisation: Additional Secretary, MoFPI

New Delhi: Mr Manoj Joshi, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Food Processing Industries, Government of India today emphasized on the need for the industry to set up its own levels of standardisation so that the consumer could be assured of what they are buying. “A regulatory approach is not always the right way to go about it. This would fuel the volumes and change the pricing and the demand structure. This is one area for big growth trends in the industry and it requires proper navigation,” he said.

Addressing the virtual inaugural session ‘FICCI FOODWORLD India 2021’, Mr Joshi informed that a final approval is awaited from the government on the PLI scheme, post which the draft guidelines will be shared with the industry for their inputs and suggestions. “We seek inputs from the industry for better implementation of the schemes,” he said.

He further stated that processed food and vegetable prices are higher in comparison to fresh produce in India and this is a major challenge in reaching a larger consumer segment. “This requires the industry and the government to work together at every level so that the price margin between what the farmer gets and what the consumer pays for fresh produce can be reduced,” said Mr Joshi.

He stated that there is a lot of a scope for improving agri-logistics chain. “There is a large gap between FPOs, farmers and the industry and all three need to work together to bridge the gap,” he noted.

Elaborating on the challenges of the industry, Mr Joshi said, “It is difficult for a micro or a small producer to sell their produce in this country. Consumers will not buy something that is not branded and if they do, they will pay a much lower price. Welfare schemes and activities like NREGA benefit the society in terms of income and employment and it will be far bigger if we address the micro and small sectors because of the employment potential it has.”

Speaking at the event, Mr Siraj Hussain, Former Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture & Food Processing Industries, Government of India said that though the food processing industry did not find itself in much stress due to COVID-19. The unorganised section of the industry, however, probably took a big hit. “The processed food industry did an exceedingly good job during the lockdown. For the first quarter last year, capacity utilisation had already reached 65 to 70 per cent and it continues to do well,” he said.

Mr Hemant Malik, Chair, FICCI Food Processing Committee and CEO- Food Division, ITC Ltd said, “Looking towards the current trend, the Indian food processing industry is experiencing a paradigm shift due to the growing global demands for food safety, increasing food insecurity, increasing consumer demand for higher quality and sustainability and reliability of supply chains post-COVID-19,” he said.

Mr Mohit Anand, Co- Chair, FICCI Food Processing Committee & MD, Kellogg India & South Asia said that over the years FICCI’s Food World has been a platform for fostering dialogue and discussions between two important stakeholders of the food processing sector i.e., the government and the industry.