Indian cold chain still lagging

New Delhi, India: Urgently needed investment in cold chain infrastructure in India will not lead to cost increases, says Venkatesh Valluri, chairman, Ingersoll Rand, India region.

“One must invest in building infrastructure with a long-term view. The argument that with a cold chain infrastructure in place, the consumers will have to pay more and players along the supply chain will be able to lower their costs, is taking a simplistic view of the matter. At present, with no cold chain, are the consumers paying less than what they would otherwise?” he said to Business Line.

India has a capacity of storing 23.6m tonnes a year of fruit, vegetables and perishables – against a production of 180m tonnes – in 5,386 cold storages across the country of which 80% of capacity is used only for potatoes, according to the latest DIPP paper on foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail.

Valluri said the industry is frustrated at the slow implementation of promises made in previous budgets. The 2010-11 Union Budget allows external commercial borrowings be made available for cold storage facilities and promised project import status at a concessional customs duty of 5% with full exemption from service tax for the initial setting up and expansion of cold storage, cold room (including farm pre-coolers for preservation or storage of agriculture and related sectors produce) and processing units.

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