India is the worlds second largest producer of food after China, and has the potential of being the biggest with the food and agricultural sector. The total food production in India is likely to double in the next ten years and there is an opportunity for large investments in food and food processing technologies, skills and equipment, especially in areas of Canning, Dairy and Food Processing, Specialty Processing, Packaging, Frozen Food/Refrigeration and Thermo Processing. Fruits & Vegetables, Fisheries, Milk & Milk Products, Meat & Poultry, Packaged/Convenience Foods, Alcoholic Beverages & Soft Drinks and Grains are important sub-sectors of the food processing industry. Health food and health food supplements is another rapidly rising segment of this industry which is gaining vast popularity amongst the health conscious.
Inspite of being one of the worlds major food producers, India accounts for less than 1.5 per cent of international food trade. This indicates vast scope for both investors and exporters. Food exports in 1998 stood at US $5.8 billion whereas the world total was US $438 billion. The Indian food industries sales turnover is Rs 140,000 crore (1 crore = 10 million) annually as at the start of year 2000. The industry has the highest number of plants approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) outside the USA.
Indias food processing sector covers fruit and vegetables; meat and poultry; milk and milk products, alcoholic beverages, fisheries, plantation, grain processing and other consumer product groups like confectionery, chocolates and cocoa products, Soya-based products, mineral water, high protein foods etc.
The most promising sub-sectors include -Soft-drink bottling, Confectionery manufacture, Fishing, aquaculture, Grain-milling and grain-based products, Meat and poultry processing, Alcoholic beverages, Milk processing, Tomato paste, Fast-food, Ready-to-eat breakfast cereals, Food additives, flavors etc.