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“Cold storage grows by 12-15% in bulk storage capacity”

The Federation of Cold Storage Associations of India (FCAOI) is an all India association with members in most of the states in the country. The foundation of this federation was laid in the year 1999 and it was formally registered on August 16, 2001. Ashish Guru, senior VP, FCAOI; president, Gujarat Cold Storage Association, Gujarat, in an email interaction with Anurag More highlights the current scenario in the cold storage market in India, its role in the growth of food industry and the federation’s contribution towards this end. Excerpts:

How has the cold storage market evolved over the years in India for F&B industry?
First cold storage was installed at Calcutta to preserve ice. Subsequently main use of cold storage is to preserve potato. Even today 90 per cent cold storage capacity is used for potato storage. Bulk cold storages operated at potato production centres like UP, Bengal, Punjab, Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana whereas multipurpose cold storages are operated  at metropolitan cities, tier i and tier ii cities.

Where do you see the cold storage market by 2020?

Cold storage industry annually grows by 12-15 per cent in bulk storage capacity. As consumer preference and habits for food ranging from vegetables, fruits and eatables, cold storage would combine to be grown. We see expansion of frozen vegetable capacity as major difference prevailed in season and off season price. E.g., bitter gourd (karela) sold in season for Rs 20 per kg, whereas in off season it went upto Rs 100 per kg.

How important are cold storages in the growth of food industry?
Even today Quick Service Restaurants increase their frozen food demand and require additional cold storage capacity. Pulses, wheat, rice, spices, poultry storages are increasing day by day. This would help food industry for processing food supply even in off season.

How much of food items are wasted every year? What steps are being taken to curb the wastage of food items?
From farm to fork, agri commodity wastage and deterioration is from 10- 30 per cent because of poor agricultural practices – on the part of farmers, lack of cost-effective transportation, good handling practices at cold storage and costly refrigeration infrastructure in urban area. Due to high cost of land leads to increase in quality looses. Farmers-customers market, packhouse at field and solar energy generation in remote area for preservation of perishable agri produce may reduce wastage.

What are the challenges faced by the industry and what steps are being taken by the association and industry to overcome the challenges?
To reduce the power expenses, Gujarat Cold Storage Association started educating members to construct rooftop solar energy power generation plant. Gujarat government and Central government is also offering subsidies for installation of rooftop solar energy generation power plant.

What are the new trends you are witnessing in cold storage of food industry?
Currently potato cultivation, production, storage statistics are emerging trends in the processed potato industry. More and more agri commodities are kept in cold storages as urban godown facility converts in commercial facility. Traders prefer cold storage facility to godown facility because of excellent storage condition and services poultry storage is increasing day by day as season and off season price is high.

What steps are being taken by the association for the betterment of the industry?
We update our member’s knowledge through monthly newsletter, visit cold chain exhibition, seminar, meeting with government officials and suggestions for problems faced by the industry. Our association constantly keeps in touch with our Federation of All India Cold Storage Association and other state associations for cold storage practices and issues faced by the industry.

What are the technological developments happening for the cold storage?
Cold storage owners now prefer precise CO2 humidity and temperature in order to get better storage results and get cold storage plants automated in refrigeration plant, government also helps us in giving subsidy for automation.

What kind of support you expect from the government for cold storage in food industry?

Removal of service tax on storage charges of the commodities, increase in floor space index, reduction in property tax, removal of electricity duty on electricity consumption and for better utilisation of cold storages, government should proactively work for storage of food grains and pulses.

Government has supported for solar power plant, net metering policy is also implemented in major states but still problems of non-availability of directional meter. We request concerned department to co-ordinate between cold storage owners, discom companies and quick implementation of financial help for speedy installation of solar power plant. Government should come up with specific policy for potato processing as potato production increases year over year. NHM giving this subsidy to north-east states only. It should be given pan-India.


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