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Organised retail drives cold storage industry up

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The country’s post-harvest machinery and cold storage industry is witnessing a 35 per cent annual growth during the last two years due to the emergence of organised retail chains, increase in the number of food processing industries, and growth in exports that demand better ‘farm to fridge’ connectivity.

According to sources in the industry, India would need over 33 million tonnes of cold storage capacity to be added in the next four years, with investment requirement of about Rs 3,000 crore per annum. Exhibitors representing the post-harvest and cold storage industry at Foodpro 2007, the food processing and food technology fair organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), currently in progress in Chennai (November 24-27), said that there is increasing demand not only for capacity addition of cold storage facilities for a set of highly perishable products, but also for a wide variety of vegetables, fruits and grains.

“Over 80 per cent of the existing cold storage facilities in India were designed to preserve potatoes, tamarind and chillies, but there was need to redesign them for new fruit and vegetable types,” said Dinesh Aggarwal, head, Food Processing Machinery, Voltas Ltd, one of the country’s oldest and largest industrial refrigeration solution providers. He added that if organised players want ‘A’ grade produce in big quantities, as their distribution and network of retail chains expand, they have to source them directly from farmers scattered across the country and not from the nearest local markets.

This would, in turn, mean that there is a need to create cold storage facilities on wheels to preserve fruits and vegetables as they are transported to far-off places. The cold storage industry expects the business to come from organised retailers, large farmers, farmers’ cooperatives, government agencies, and private aggregators who sort, grade and value-add to the farm produce.

“With the entry of big corporates into retailing, the supply chain, including cold chain for food and beverages distribution, is getting effectively streamlined,” added Manjunath, head, Marketing and Exports, Rinac India, which leads in in-flight kitchens and cold chain solutions for fruits processing and storage. He said that customers should look at the long-term value of investing in a sophisticated cold storage plant and good technologies.

– Bengaluru Bureau

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