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India’s cold chain sector poised for growth and innovation : Dr Surendra Ahirwar

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NEW DELHI : India’s cold chain sector is on the verge of significant growth and innovation, according to Dr. Surendra Ahirwar, Joint Secretary at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry’s Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT). Speaking at FICCI’s Cold Chain and Logistics Summit, Dr. Ahirwar highlighted the sector’s crucial role in ensuring food security and reducing waste.

Dr. Ahirwar revealed that the sector currently has a turnover of about Rs 2 lakh crore and is expanding at a rate exceeding 10 percent annually. “As per one estimate, we are going to reach a Rs 5 lakh crore limit, maybe by 2030 or 2032,” he stated. This rapid growth is driven by innovations, infrastructure development, and collaborative efforts between industry and academia.

He noted advancements such as temperature-controlled warehousing, ice battery technology, and efficient packaging solutions as pivotal to the sector’s progress. Dr. Ahirwar also emphasized the government’s role in fostering an enabling environment through initiatives like the PM GatiShakti National Master Plan, which accelerates infrastructure development, including temperature-controlled warehouses. Additionally, the National Logistics Policy launched in 2022 addresses various aspects of the logistics sector, including the cold chain.

Mr. Asheesh Fotedar, Chief Operating Officer of the National Centre for Cold-Chain Development (NCCD), Ministry of Agriculture, elaborated on NCCD’s efforts to strengthen India’s cold chain infrastructure with a focus on sustainability, efficiency, and innovation. NCCD is revising technical standards and minimum guidelines for cold-chain components, creating a roadmap for central and state government bodies setting up cold chain facilities nationwide.

NCCD is also developing a mobile application to digitalize data related to cold chain components, aiming to increase capacity utilization, reduce fuel costs, and minimize the carbon footprint. This app will capture relevant logistics data to aid in policymaking and analytics.

Mr. Amit Kumar, Committee Co-Chairman of the FICCI Committee on Logistics and Director of Pristine Logistics and Infraprojects, stressed the importance of developing sustainable infrastructure and adopting smart technologies to optimize energy usage and reduce environmental impact. “We stand at a pivotal juncture where technology diffusion, policy initiatives, and market demand present unparalleled opportunities for the cold chain sector. By placing sustainability at the forefront, we can mitigate environmental impact, uphold economic viability, and fortify food security,” Kumar stated.

The summit also saw the release of the FICCI-Grant Thornton Bharat Report on “Cold Chain Dynamics: Mapping India’s Logistics Transformation,” which highlights India’s dynamic food processing industry and the cold chain sector’s role in addressing infrastructure gaps and high costs.

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