The country's meat exports are expected to grow by 5 per cent to about Rs 18,270 crore in the current financial year, ending March 31, mainly on strong demand, Food Processing Secretary Siraj Hussain said today.
"Meat export is booming. We exported Rs 17,400 crore worth of meat last fiscal. This year, we expect exports to grow by 5 per cent as there is good demand," Hussain told PTI on the sidelines of a seminar jointly organised by CII alongwith National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management.
India exports unprocessed meat, mostly buffalo meat. "The quality of meat has improved over a period as our export-oriented abattoirs are much better now," he said.
However, the export realisation per tonne at present is much lower. If safety standards are further improved, India can fetch good price in the global market, he added.
Highlighting export opportunities, Hussain said exports could grow several times with the opening of Chinese market.
"In fact, the agreement has already been signed with China but protocols are not yet be finalised. If the Chinese market opens, our meat exports can be several times higher," he said.
China is a big market for Indian meat. Currently, one third of the total buffalo meat is exported to Vietnam. "There is a possibility that our meat goes to China from Vietnam. So, we export directly to China, it is better," Hussain said.
Besides buffalo meat, there is a growing demand for Indian chicken. "McDonald Pakistan wants to import chicken from India. This can happen, when the trade between two countries stabilises," he said.
On providing safe food to consumers, he said: "India is a vast country with a huge population. People still eat at places that are unhygienic. The challenge before us is to address this situation."
Lack of infrastructure facilities to maintain quality systems, especially in unorganised sector, is the major hurdle in the way of achieving desired standards of food safety in the country, he added.
The Meat Products of India Limited (MPI), a state government undertaking engaged in meat production and marketing, is on an ambitious drive with concrete plans of stepping into the global market and enhancing production.
If things go as planned, MPI will open its modernised meat processing plant and step into the markets abroad within two years.
According to MPI managing director M Suresh Kumar, the company is looking ahead to a glaring future, with a slew of projects planned for the current fiscal. “The company aims to attain its desired goal of achieving `190 crore turnover within two fiscals by making the plant more productive. At present, the company has a turnover of `7 crore.
“Though there is a huge demand for MPI products in domestic and global markets, we are yet to exploit the possibilities. Though the state needs around 50 tonnes of pork per day, the company could contribute only 8 per cent of the total requirement. The company plans to increase its contribution to 50 per cent within the next two fiscals,” he said.
Suresh Kumar said that the lack of modernised processing unit is the main barrier for the company and steps have been initiated to resolve the issue. “We have mooted a `31-crore proposal to set up a modernised meat processing unit in collaboration with Malaysian company at our main plant. Once the modernised plant becomes functional, the company will be able to export high quality products to the global markets. And, this will help us achieve our goal,” he said.
The Centre has already allotted `31 crore for the proposal, for which the state government has given in principle approval. As per the plan, the construction of the new plant will start by March and is expected to be completed within 15 months.
At present, the plant has the capacity to process around 200 pigs, 200 calves and 5,000 chicken per day.
The company plans to open a plant at Edayar with a capacity to process 400 pigs per day, at an estimated cost of around `32 crore. The company is also considering a `5-crore proposal to provide piglets to farmers at low cost.
Suresh Kumar further said that though the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak had hit nearly 30 per cent of the pork business, the company had registered a 35 per cent growth in beef market.
As part of the expansion plans, the company, which is facing staff shortage, will increase the number of employees from 76 to 200.
Northen India, comprising diverse geographical regions from high mountains to flat gangetic plains, provides a lot of agricultural diversity and opportunity for the food processing industry.
From fruits like high quality apple to king of rice - Basmati and hub of dairy and meat industry, northern India comprising mainly of plains of Uttar Pradesh, hills of Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and J&K along with fertile land of Punjab and Haryana is a hub of variety of foods.
Demand for critical tech
According to an expert, the region has ample opportunity in the food processing industry and therefore the demand is also rising for critical technologies related to equipment and machinery for the same. Also there is change in dynamics of the local industry functions. They are now on lines of multinational companies, want to add new lineup of products, particularly in the dairy industry.
The growth was around 25 per cent last year while according to the industry estimate, the market of food processing industry equipment and machinery was $1billion in 2010 and the growth has been 10-15% in recent times overall in India, wherein the imported machinery accounts for more than 90%.
There was a demand of 15-20 tonne per hour processing capacity in recent times amongst the big players which reflects the growth in the food processing sector for which the average requirement would cost around $8-10million.
However, the Indian version of equipment starts around Rs 20,000 onwards for the small and medium industries.
The main countries exporting equipments to India include the US having the largest share, followed by Germany, Italy, the UK and Holland providing mainly three types of machinery, processing machinery and equipment, packaging machinery and utility services.
Dr Kalyan Goswami, secretary-general, All India Food Processor’s Association (AIFPA) told that the major share of imported machinery is with processing and packaging part with around $1.2billion of cost.
“US provides all kinds of processing machinery solutions particularly in meat and poultry, diary, fruits and vegetable processing while Germany is providing packaging solutions and in confectionery segment,” he told.
Even, recently a US company Dover made foray into India. It is said to be providing largest refrigeration and cold chain solutions in the world.
In northern India, the processing industry is witnessing expansion with governments incentivising the industry and providing support. While the hilly regions of J&K, Himachal and Uttarakhand excel in fruits juices, jams, dry fruits processing units, big states like Uttar Pradesh have zones for Basmati rice, and meat processing units in the western part, mango processing units in central UP while litchi processing units in eastern UP.
“Even Bihar has created litchi zones including districts like Muzaffarpur, Champaran, Betia, Madhepura, and Maharajganj. Bihar produces 75% of the litchis in India and a number of processing units has come up in recent times,” said Dr Goswami.
Also a new trend has come up in UP with cities like Kanpur and Lucknow emerging as exporters of ready meals to Gulf countries. “They export Kalmi Kebab to Gulf countries. Certainly for exporting purpose, they need right equipment and machinery to support the demand,” he said.
Even mango, which is hard to export in its raw form, has a huge export potential in the processed form, according to him.
Besides, the states like J&K, Himachal, and Uttarakhand are organic states. And the agro produce there is of much higher quality as compared to others. There are also opportunities in export of such processed food items while specialised processing equipment is needed for the same.
New areas of food processing create demands for newer types of machinery and equipment, for example, for processing of healthy juices and mango pulp. Northern India is one of the big producers of milk in India comprising UP, Haryana and Punjab but lacks technology for some key components of the dairy industry, which if provided would improve quality, according to an expert.
The meat processing industry could be a big change particularly in UP, which has started exporting exotic dishes like kebabs. Also emphasis of the government is on clean and hygienic meat production, this would provide impetus to the processing equipment industry to invest. However experts suggest that simplification of critical technology is required to involve, small and medium entrepreneurs.
According to an Italian Trade Commission report, some equipment for emulsion for nuggets and sausages, tandoori, kebab and curry products, value-added cuts from meat and cheaper packaging machines could change the fortunes of the meat industry in India.
Meanwhile, Indian manufacturers state that there are ample opportunities. Last year the growth in northern India was around 25% for RTS Juicers and IQF plants.
Mukesh Mohan Agrawal, VP, marketing and sales, Bajaj Process Pack Ltd, informed that a lot of enquiries were coming from Bihar and Rajasthan. “A lot of processing units in Bihar are coming up for litchi and tomato processing while in Rajasthan vegetables and fruits related plants are coming up,” he said.
He added that inquiries are coming from dairy industries, which want to add new flavours to their products. “The dairy industry is experimenting with their products a lot. On the lines of international brands, they now want to add flavours of fruits to their dairy products,” he said.