Investment in cold storages have seen a sharp increase over recent years, partly due to the government’s increased focus on conservation of agricultural produce for better shelf life and a higher return for farmers, by selling their produce in the lean supply season. Data compiled by the Union ministry of food processing showed the government approved 93 projects worth around Rs 28.3 billion in calendar year 2017, compared to three projects with an investment commitment of nearly Rs0.6 billion the previous year. In January-February this year, 14 projects worth Rs3.3 billion have been approved. The sharp increase, in number of projects and investment commitment, indicates investors’ growing confidence here on higher return. Still, even this pace is insufficient to meet the requirement. An estimated 30 per cent of horticultural output is lost due to poor post-harvest management, lack of cold storage facilities and lack of connectivity between farmers and consumers. “Nevertheless, we have started scratching the surface. A cold storage facility in India is backed primarily by the need for either captive or commercial use. For example, dairy, pharmaceutical or food and beverage products that cannot survive without cold chains are properly supported by backward and forward integration. Still, independent commercial cold storages are lacking today due to the fear of lower occupancy. Thus, we have a long way,” said B Thiagarajan, joint managing director at Blue Star, the country’s largest central air conditioning and commercial refrigeration entity. The majority of cold chains are in the segments of bio pharmaceuticals, dairy, seafood, meat, food and beverages. All these directly serve large processed food producers and export-centric segments.
Source: Business Standard