Momentum in Cold Chain Industry
Hello and welcome to another edition of Cooling India. A few days back Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan said the government will soon define portion sizes for food served in hotels, restaurants to preventing wastage of food. That's a good thought by the minister. Food should not be wasted. India is one of the largest food producers in the world and is the second largest producer of fruits and vegetables yet only 2.2 per cent of our fruits and vegetables are processed. Farmers are producing. Our demand is growing, but the unfortunate part is yet there is wastage of fruits and vegetables to the tune of Rs. 92,000 crore based on the wholesale prices of 2014. Efficient cold chains can help reduce this abundant wastage of food stuff rather than measuring what one eats.
Building cold chain infrastructure is the key to India's food security and public health for its more than one billion citizens. Existing cold storages are concentrated in few states and roughly 80-90 per cent are used for potatoes. Keeping this in mind the government has sanctioned 101 new cold chain projects to be set up by firms like Big Basket, Amul and Haldiram entailing Rs 3,100 crore in investments. These projects will create additional capacity of 2.76 lakh tonne of cold storage/controlled atmosphere/frozen storage, 115 tonne/hour of Individual Quick Freezing (IQF), 56 lakh litres per day of milk processing, 210 tonne per batch of blast freezing and 629 refrigerated/ insulated vehicles.
Cold Chain industry has gained momentum with rise in urbanization leading to hike in demand for processed foods, quick serve restaurants (QSRs), and organized retail. The industry has evolved with rising income levels and growing awareness of hygiene, leading to a significant private investment in cold chain sector.
While financial investment in cold storage facilities and refrigerated transport is vital, some of the additional challenges faced by India's cold storage industry today are high lifecycle costs, uneven distribution of cold storages, low awareness of best storage and handling practices, frequent power outages, outdated refrigeration technologies resulting in high maintenance and high energy costs etc.
Moving ahead, the Government policies and schemes in the form of capital subsidies for setting up mega food parks (MFP), grant of infrastructure status and viability-gap funding have also helped cold chain industry. However, the right implementation of these initiatives and policies is the key to the exponential growth of the cold chain sector.
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