Analysing the opportunities prevailing in the Indian fruit and vegetable processing industry
India is the second largest producer of the fruits and vegetables in the world with a production capacity of 256 million MT. India is the world’s largest producer of bananas, papaya, mangoes, and guavas, and the second largest producer of potatoes, green peas, cabbage and cauliflower. Besides these, the country is ripe with opportunities in alternative fruits, vegetables, plantation crops, spices, dry fruits, healthful and aromatic plants and organic product.
Despite its favorable production volumes, India witnesses nearly 4-15% wastage in fruits and vegetables annually, due to lack of awareness regarding recent harvesting practices and inadequate cold chain infrastructure, and this is one of the major shortcomings of the fruit and vegetable processing market in India. The significant amount of wastage, however, offers a chance to the market players to position themselves favorably to cut back on wastage levels and ensure adequate infrastructure and R&D for processed food & vegetables.
Decentralized nature of the industry is driving opportunities
The fruit and vegetable processing industry in India is highly decentralised in nature. A large number of units fall under the cottage/home scale and small-scale sector, with small capacities up to 250 tonnes per annum. Big Indian and multinational companies, on the other hand, have capacities in the range of 30-50 tonnes per hour or so. The prominent processed items are fruit pulps and juices, fruit based ready-to-serve beverages, canned fruits and vegetables, jams, squashes, pickles, chutneys and dehydrated vegetables. More recently, products like frozen pulps and vegetables, frozen dried fruits and vegetables, fruit juice concentrates and vegetable curries in restorable pouches, canned mushroom and mushroom products are being manufactured by the industry.
The processing level in India is estimated to be around 2%, and this signifies that there is a massive market yet to be tapped by the fruit and vegetable processing companies in the country. India’s major exports are in fruit pulp, pickles, chutneys, canned fruits and vegetables, concentrated pulps and juices, dehydrated vegetables and frozen fruits and vegetables. This sector too has huge potential.
Favorable government initiatives driving further growth
Several new development schemes for the fruit and vegetable processing sector have been implemented. Assistance has been provided to the state agro industries corporations of Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Haryana, and Kerala for setting up and strengthening fruit and vegetable processing facilities in the respective regions. Assistance in the form of contribution to the equity capital has also been provided. The Government of Uttar Pradesh has been assisted with organizing training and visit programs for fruit and vegetable growers and processors. Development of mushroom production and processing has been taken up as one of the focus areas. Financial assistance has been provided to Orissa and Himachal Pradesh for setting up mushroom production and processing facilities.
Lower prices and greater availability of fruits and vegetables around the year, coupled with increasing incomes, have enhanced the array of fruits and vegetables in the global consumer’s basket of goods. Other factors, such as concern for a healthy diet and improved handling and transportation, is further supporting the growth of the fruit and vegetable processing industry in India.