Dairy producers evince interest in India's food market

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Singapore, Apr 26 (UNI) The four-day food and hospitality event 'Food&HotelAsia (FHA) 2008' ended in Singapore with a strong interest expressed by major dairy producers in India's branded food market.

A total of 2,627 companies from 70 countries took part in the mega event, that ended last night, at the sprawling Singapore Expo, exploring new business opportunities in emerging markets, with a major focus on the Indian market, estimated to be 321 billion dollars in retail businesses.

Rabo India Finance Ltd report estimates organised food retail market in India is about 1.5-2 billion dollars, and projects that it is poised to grow by 25 per cent per annum.

One major sector of growth is the wine consumption in India. About 1,50,000 cases of world class wines are imported out of the estimated 5,00,000 cases consumed a year.

Citing these mammoth figures, international retailers at the Singapore exhibition feel New Delhi should accelerate its processes of relaxing retristriction on imports of on dairy-based branded product as well as other processed and packaged good with a long-shelve life.

With a growing number of shopping malls and hotels mushrooming in major Indian cities, the government should allow a free-flow of branded international foods, the trade sources pointed out.

According to estimates, India will have 500 million people consuming processed and packaged foods by 2010, up from 300 million a year ago.

The supermarket businesses are growing by a hefty 35 per cent per annum and the number of five star hotels in the country will increase by 100 per cent in the next two years, according to a market report by the Austalian Trade Commssion.

The New Delhi-based Australian Trade Commssioner Michael Carter estimates 540 million dollars investment in food processing industry in the next six to seven years.

Indian processed retail is estimated to be worth 200 million dollars with only 20 million being imported.

But the trade sources pointed out the urgent need to fill up the shelves at the supermarkets, and supply high grade foods ranging from breakfasts to gourmet eatings at the five start hotels.

Australia, France, Italy, the United States and the United Kingdom have been monitoring opportunities of selling their value-added high grade consumerable goods in the Indian markets, all backed by their recent sectorial market studies.

Meanwhile, Australia is taking the lead and continues with promotional campaigns in major metropolies.

The Australian Trade Commission has scheduled Utsav Australia to introduce the latest and reputed foods at an exposition scheduled to be held 30 May 2008 in Bangalore.

This is to further boost Australia-India bilateral trade of about 11.4 billion Australian dollar in fiscal 2006-07, almost double of the 5.7 billion Australian dollar in 2003-04.

Scounting for new F&B import opporutnities, the Mumbai-based Agrifood and Agribusiness Consultant Pratap Arora is working on a number of marketing strategy for the high-end food supply to the Indian market.

Mr Arora said the Indian consumer is ready for spending on high end and value added food products, especially having acquired the taste from recent tourist trips abroad.

Separately, the five-star hotels are signing on international consultant to design high calibre layouts, soft music and environments in their new properties to meet the high expectations of the young and professional Indians.

Mr Simon A Faure-Field, Chief Executive of the Equal Strategy, which has designed softer elements in sohe in 45 international hotel properties around the world, is working on a number of hotel projects in India.

He has recently completed soft design work and communication network at the Westin Hotel in Gurgaon.

The Singapore-based Equal Strategy is now working on the corporate office of the Inter-Continental Group in India.

Mr Faure-Field said the new properties were seeking out the best for the affluent Indian customers.

UNI XC MP BST1616

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