ITC, PEPSICO, Patanjali and Coca Cola are among the many domestic and multinational firms that have committed to investing Rs 68,000 crore in India's food and agriculture sector, the Centre said on Friday. As many as 13 agreements were signed to this effect on the first day of the three-day World Food India 2017 event, and more investment is set to come over the next few days, according to a statement from union minister for food processing Harsimrat Kaur Badal.
PepsiCo reiterated that, along with its partners, it will invest Rs 13,300 crore over five years to set up a food and beverage plant. Rival Coca Cola will put in Rs 11,000 crore for juice bottling infrastructure, fruit processing plants and equipment. Conglomerate ITC and FMCG major Patanjali signed deals with the food processing ministry to invest Rs 10,000 crore each. ITC is looking to set up 20 integrated food processing and logistics facilities.
Private sector lender Yes Bank signed an agreement to fund Rs 1,000 crore for 100 food processing projects. The government also named Amazon and UAE's Sharaf Group as major investors. "These investments will help us realise the goal of doubling farmers' income as well as generating massive employment in the food processing sector," said Badal.
The event, inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is expected to help forge partnerships with global firms in order to increase farmers' incomes and reduce post-harvest losses. Currently, only 10 per cent of India's food is being processed. Leaders from top global firms hailed India's 30-position rise in World Bank's Ease of Doing Business as an encouraging sign for investments in the country, including in the food processing sector.
Nestle chairman of board of director, Paul Bulcke, said top priority should be given to investment in building agriculture capacity amid challenges of scarce natural resources, rising population and growing food demand. "India's consumption market is projected to triple to $4 trillion by 2025 with the bulk of expenditure going into food products," said ITC CEO Sanjiv Puri.
Unilever global president Amanda Sourry said the world is looking towards India. "Rich agri-resources in India create an optimal opportunity to scale up the processing industry here." Hindustan Unilever CEO Sanjiv Mehta said, "India is one of the most attractive markets and as the economy grows, there will be more people coming and moving up." Metro AG COO Pieter Boone said recent policy decisions to improve ease of doing business coupled with demonetisation and GST are driving the positive overhaul in the economic environment.
Tata International MD Noel Tata said that there is a need for significant new investment to increase the scale of food processing, dominated by MSMEs at present. The global CEOs also met the Prime Minister and finance minister Arun Jaitley in two separate roundtables to discuss investment opportunities, regulatory framework for ease of doing business and other issues.