With several states in India forced to impose lockdown as a result of the next tide of Covid-19, which has led to limitations on the operations of business and commerce, the business is seeing unexpected delays in the clearance of goods in the port of arrival as 100% sampling is still being practised barring very few circumstances, besides several different troubles.

Rather, business experts feel all of the sections should ideally be working concurrently. The industry sees this as a massive obstacle because the consignments are postponed clearance at the port of arrival for about 8-15 working days. Because police are under staffed – not merely credited to these lockdowns but to the specific employees being influenced by Covid-19.

In this aspect, Amit Lohani, convener, founder director, Forum of Indian Food Importers, implied that it’s of utmost importance to allow the trade flow easily to minimize the adverse effect on the market in situations such as these. So, “we indicate whether the authorities can grant green stations into the imported products,” he explained.

Industry experts state that the recently enforced requirement of this Non-GM certification is still an India-specific necessity, which has inserted a bureaucratic layer to the imports.

“While the majority of the providing nations have agreed on the language of this certification, the business is continuing to face specific challenges. Another such need is that of Certification of Analysis to proprietary food products. The validity of the said certification is limited to 3 months which has an immediate effect on the expense of the goods. This condition also reproduces the attempts as the same evaluation is conducted on products on arrival in India,” explained Lohani.

He added that apart from that, the business also continues to confront ambiguity around the draft notification stating the potential physical audit of their global production facilities. While the Director (Imports) FSSAI explained that the stated requirement would not be necessary for imports, the business seeks to get an official caution in this respect.

“Additionally, a longstanding entry remains that the Government of India applies globally approved criteria in circumstances where Indian regulations don’t recognize any particular product or element,” he explained. The main impediment to promoting access into India stays high essential Customs Duty (BCD) on imported food products, varying from 0 to 150%. It proceeds to discourage investment in Indian production and processing centres and also limits the option offered to Indian customers.

How long does it affect

Together with the first Covid wave outbreak, the industry observed job reductions, a small company with fewer bookings, closed surgeries, large scale international events are cancelled, Exim trade viewing downturn, customers not dining out, societal occasions becoming cancelled, and a lot of other disruptive impacts. Despite all of this and much more, the food sector players began to invent means of tapping into the emerging commerce outlooks.

But it appears that the next wave has compelled the companies to re-engineer their operations further to acclimate the changing trends and sustain through an economic and psychological tumultuous stage.

“We anticipate that in a few months, particular positive social engagements may commence, and in six to eight months, the business should begin to acquire standing. Getting regular will be exceedingly subjective since it’ll be determined by classes such as categories specializing in HoReCa sector will face a long road to recoup vis-à-vis goods that are from the health and health sector,” explained Lohani.

The Indian Food Trade

India’s majority, intermediate, consumer-oriented, and agricultural-related imports grew from $22 billion in 2013 to $25 billion in 2019, a little increase of 14 per cent.

India primarily imports what it doesn’t produce or cross-seasonal such as during April 2020- February 2021, vegetable or animal oils and fats imports held a 55% market share followed by edible fruits and nuts at 16%; legumes and pulses at 9%; and tea, coffee, mate, and spices in 4%. Prima facie, the industry understanding is that more packed food items are imported into India while it has been a small shareholder in the full gambit. 

Lohani claims that the overall requirement for the health group primarily pushed by dry fruits, nuts, and fresh fruits continued to stay secure and didn’t see a huge spike despite the growing need.

Even though the majority of the domestic businesses assert that they had a long-term prognosis to enter the current market, the pandemic hastened the whole procedure, he reasoned.