The cold chain has become one of the most important supply chain practices in the world today especially because it is used in the pharmaceutical, food, chemical as well as in the floral industries. India has a huge opportunity to become a leading global food supplier if only it has the right marketing strategies and of course efficient supply & cold chains management. Cold chain is a logistic system that provides a series of facilities for maintaining ideal storage conditions for perishables from the point of origin to the point of consumption in the food supply chain. The chain needs to start at the farm level (e.g. harvest methods, Pre-cooling) and cover up to the consumer level or at least to the retail level. A well organized cold chain reduces spoilage, retains the quality of the harvested products and guarantees a cost efficient delivery to the consumer given adequate attention for customer service. The food supply chain is complex with perishable goods and numerous small stake holders. The Indian cold chains market is largely untapped and lined by several players in the unorganized sector which clues for immense investment and development opportunities. It is at a threshold of exponential increase due to developments taking place in food and retail industry of India. Retail is India's largest industry, accounting for over 10 per cent of the country's GDP. The businesses started with traditional corner stores andhave emerged tosupermarkets and modern retail stores.
The total cold chain market in India is worth Rs. 21,375 million, which is equivalent to US$ 475 million. Chiller Segment, which includes F & V pack houses, Potato, apple contributes Rs. 16050 million (US$ 357 Million) to the cold chain market. The profile for the cold chain unit is created as per requirement of the 3rd / 4th years. Optimum utilization starts in 5th year. Being capital intensive project key indicators considered on the 15th year operation. There were 66,765 refrigerators and freezers installed and operational in the country. The cold chain equipment in the country has been installed based on population density of each district. Out of total 66,765 equipment, 63,726 (95%) were placed in 20 larger states and rest of 5% equipment was installed in smaller states and Union Territories. We have realized that there is great amount of wastage happening in post Harvest activities. This wastage is being estimated at 25% of total produce or approx Rs.50000Cr US $10 Billion. Indian Agriculture sector accounts for 26% of country ‘s GDP, produces 64% employment and 18% of country’s exporter and second largest vegetable Exporter but Indian share is only 1% of world trade.
Ministry of Food Processing Industries through its Scheme for Cold Chain, Value Addition and Preservation Infrastructure is promoting integrated cold chain projects in the country with an aim to provide integrated and complete cold chain and preservation infrastructure facilities without any break, from the farm gate to the Consumer, Enable linking of groups of producers to the processors and market through well equipped supply chain, establish value addition with infrastructural facilities like sorting, grading, packaging and processing for horticulture including organic produce, marine, dairy, poultry, etc.
The Scheme aims to establish value addition with infrastructural facilities like sorting, grading, storing, associated processing and packaging for a variety of products such as fruit and vegetable, marine, dairy, poultry, etc. The assistance under the Scheme includes financial assistance (grant-in-aid) of 50% the total cost of plant and machinery and technical civil works in General areas and 75% for NE region and difficult areas (North East including Sikkim and J&K, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand) subject to a maximum of Rs 10 Crore.
India may lag behind the developed countries in cold chain infrastructure, but the new-found focus will allow it to pick up the best from the West. There’s scope to bring down inefficiencies in a big way. For instance, cold chain utilization is just 10 per cent in India, and 25 per cent in China, as against 80-90 per cent in developed countries. Losses, too, are lower in the West, at just 5 per cent, as against 35-40 per cent in India and China. However, there’s a long way to go before India can match up to those high standards. The cold chain industry itself is estimated to be as large as Rs 10,000-15,000 crore, growing at 20-25 per cent and is expected to touch Rs 40,000 crore by 2015.