The ministry of food processing has signed memoranda of understanding with 13 global and domestic companies that have committed to invest a cumulative Rs68,000 crore in India's food processing sector over the coming years.
The in-principle agreements with the 13 companies were signed at the World Food India 2017 event in New Delhi.
PepsiCo Inc has committed an investment of Rs13,340 crore for setting up beverage and food manufacturing units over the next five years. Rival Coca-Cola Co proposed to invest Rs11,000 crore in the supply chain as part of its plan to increase use of Indian fruits in its beverages.
Among domestic companies, ITC Ltd said it will invest Rs10,000 crore in food processing over the next five to seven years while Yoga guru-turned businessman Baba Ramdev's Patanjali Ayurved Ltd signed a memorandum of understanding to invest Rs10,000 crore for setting up food processing units across the country. Other companies included Amazon and Metro Cash and Carry.
Most of these companies had earlier announced their investment plans in India until 2020, and the investment figures proposed on Friday are part of those previously declared plans.
Other proposals include Rs5,000 crore of investments by Saraf Group in farm produce and processing, Rs4,000 crore by Yes Bank Ltd for financing food processing projects across the back-end infrastructure and Rs3,450 by US-based online retailer Amazon.com Inc., which will invest in food retail, according to a statement by the ministry of food processing industries.
Hyderabad-based Janani Food Pvt. Ltd (Rs2,000 crore), German retailer Metro Cash and Carry (Rs1,690 crore), Cargill Inc. (Rs1,500 crore), biscuit maker Britannia Industries Ltd (Rs1,500 crore) and US-based chocolate maker The Hershey Co are among the other prominent investors.
''Metro is convinced of India's potential and strongly committed to expansion in your country. We prepare with innovative solutions on various levels from supporting farmers as key factors in supply chain to empowering the competitiveness of traditional kirana stores while retail monetization for sizing these opportunities and playing our role in the transformation of India's food market,'' said Pieter Boone, chief operating officer of Metro AG and chief executive officer, Metro Cash and Carry.
Amanda Sourry, global president, foods, at Unilever Plc, said the company is committed to bringing its global expertise to India. ''We, at Unilever, are excited about India foods opportunity. Unilever has globally loved portfolio of food and refreshment brands - Kissan, Brooke Bond, Knorr, Kwality Walls, to name a few. Some of these brands have been present in India for over 70 years. We are committed to bringing our expertise and experience in identifying emerging needs, educating people on making informed food choices and providing the highest quality products that are sourced and distributed sustainably,'' added Sourry.
Food processing minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal said the $600 billion retail sector is set to treble by 2020. ''The government is helping set up 42 mega food parks where common facilities can be used by companies instead of setting up individual plants… Our goal is to transform India's food economy and double farmer incomes,'' she added.
Finance minister Arun Jaitley said over 250 highways were under construction, 35-40 new airports were being added and 400 railway stations being modernised. ''Each village is being connected through a road. By 2019, every village home will be connected to electricity. This will raise the quality of life.''
Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacted with CEOs representing the top companies engaged in the food processing and related sectors across the world. The interaction was part of the ongoing World Food India event.
''Food processing is a priority sector under the Make in India programme,'' the prime minister said at the inauguration of World Food India 2017.
Steps such as allowing 100 per cent foreign direct investment in food retail, a single-window facilitation cell for foreign investors and attractive incentives from central and state governments have made India a preferred investment destination, Modi said.
CEOs and officials from Amazon (India), Amway, Britannia Industries, Cargill Asia Pacific, Coca-Cola India, Danfoss, Future Group, GlaxoSmithKline, Ise Foods, ITC, Kikkoman, LuLu Group, McCain, Metro Cash & Carry, Mondelez International, Nestle, OSI Group, PepsiCo India, Sealed Air, Sharaf Group, Spar International, The Hain Celestial Group, The Hershey Company, Trent Ltd, and Walmart India were present at the meeting.
The CEOs complimented the prime minister on the massive improvement in India's ranking in the recent World Bank Doing Business Report. Many CEOs said that they were inspired by the prime minister's vision of doubling farm incomes, and the pace and progress of economic reforms over the last three years under his leadership. They especially appreciated the structural reforms and bold initiatives such as GST and the liberalisation of the FDI regime.
The participants stressed that the food processing sector is vital for raising farm productivity, food and nutrition security, creating jobs, and adding value to agricultural produce. The CEOs presented an overview of their engagement and initiatives for inclusive growth in India's food processing, agriculture, logistics, and retail sectors. They showed keen interest in opportunities that exist for strengthening the post-harvest infrastructure. They reaffirmed their commitment to be a part of India's growth story.
The prime minister said that India's rising middle class and the policy-driven initiatives of the government are opening up several win-win opportunities for all stakeholders in the food processing ecosystem. He also underlined the government's resolve to reduce input costs for the farmer, and eliminate losses due to wastage of farm produce. He invited the global CEOs for a deeper and more productive engagement with India.
(Also see: Modi invites global investors for contract farming in India)