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    Business deliberations at Food Forum India

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    VAT is an issue in Indian food buying:

    Speaking at the session ‘Food Inspirations: Lifestyle Changes, Global Culture, New Occasions, Innovative Design & Formats’, Brenda Sternquist, professor, Michigan State University, said that VAT was proving to be a bottleneck for the Indian food and grocery industry. She declared: “If you want to be a global player, you have got to play.”

    Besides VAT, Brenda also highlighted other hurdles that the industry was facing. These included insufficient margins generated from private labels and the prevailing terms of trade.

    Brenda has studied buyer-supplier relationships in China for twenty years, and in India for around five years.

    Demand outweighs legislation: Andrew Levermore

    At Food Forum India, Andrew Levermore, CEO, , and panellist at the session ‘Food Inspirations: Lifestyle Changes, Global Culture, New Occasions, Innovative Design & Formats’, told that the rising demand from consumers’ side was proving difficult to meet owing to the legislations in practice. Andrew mentioned these legislations to be the Weight and Measures Act and Packaged Commodities Act.

    Recommending solutions to the problem, Andrew called for a need to rationalise and centralise taxes, and to balance protectionism against consumer demand.

    Need for data on consumer eating preferences:

    Talking at the session ‘Scope for Foreign Food – With Foreign Food Brands & Indian Retailers’, Munish Manocha, consultant chef, Breakthrough Innovations, Premier Foods, UK, put forward the point of a lack of database on the eating preferences of Indian consumers. He contrasted this with the point that in European markets, food retailers have a sound customer data and sensory profiles of consumers which help them adapt their food products.

    Oliver Mirza, MD, Dr , in an interview with Indiaretailing elaborated that as compared to the European markets, the Indian scenario is quite different. He stated that the food business in India is not ‘necessarily’ demand-driven. He further agreed to the need for a customer data base, but emphasised the presence of a scope for the retailer pushing demand for consumers, too.

    – Bhavya Misra