With a view to reduce crop wastage of Rs.50,000 crore per year and increase share of processed food in the country to 20% from the present 6%, the government is setting up 30 food parks in next 5 years with a public-private partnership. These parks could also be given SEZ and other fiscal benefits to reduce production cost and increasing competitiveness.

The food processing industry in India will require investments of Rs.1 lakh crore, of which government will contribute 10% and rest by private sector. These food parks will be spread over 10 to 100 hectares. Minimum size of 10 hectares shall enable smaller food processing units to start operation within the SEZ.

Considering the high risks involved in the food processing sector, the government will provide a subsidy of Rs 50 crore per park to private investors. These food parks will provide direct employment to 28 lakh people, and will have cold warehousing, grading centers and research laboratories.

The World Bank is giving priority to the food processing sector in India and providing supports in improving the supply chain. Owing to 100% FDI allowed in this sector, many foreign companies have shown interest to invest in this sector.

The Kenpo Group is interested in setting up food parks in India while San Francisco-based Amy’s Foods, a organic and packaged food services company, and Los-Angeles based food retailer and marketer Melissa wants to start operations in India. Another American company, Dole wants to building cold chains and supply processed food from India.

Apart from this large MNCs Pepsi, Hershey, Cargill and P&G have shown interest to invest in this sector. Another US-based company has requested for supply of 2 million litres of flavoured milk in tetra packs per month from India.

Among Indian entities, the government is in talks with Reliance Retail, Bharti Enterprises, ITC and Tata to develop the infrastructure and build a supply chain for the unorganised food processing sector.

The opportunities are huge in this sector owing to rising demand and consumption, and if implemented properly the food parks may do what IT Parks did to Indian economy.