During a four-day return visit in early March, Yoshiro Tanaka, chairman of the Japanese firm, said that Mayekawa Manufacturing had alliances with 25 Japanese companies that were looking to invest an estimated US$9 billion in India’s food processing sector.
Company officials told GlobalMeatNews.com that no poultry products were being exported from India to Japan at present, and that Japanese consumers had to rely primarily on imports from Thailand, China and Brazil.
“India is investing a huge budget in food parks, so foreign companies can work in India,” Jun Oshima, a spokesman for the company, told GlobalMeatNews.com. “And the national government is willing to provide subsidies and tax benefits if the food is produced in India.”
There are already “six or seven” Japanese food processing firms operating in India and Mayekawa is keen to provide them with the latest food processing technology at dedicated food parks, Oshima said.
As soon as the processing plants are upgraded, other companies with an interest in setting up operations in India will be invited to tour the plants and meet with local officials, he said.
As well as promoting sales of Mayekawa equipment, the arrangement will also provide jobs, assist local farmers and reduce the amount of waste that comes from inefficient processing of poultry, Oshima said. Mayekawa also manufactures industrial cooling and freezing equipment, as well as compressors for refrigerators and heat pumps, of importance to India’s weak cold chain distribution.
Emphasising that the discussions were in their early stages, Oshima said no timeline had been attached to the project.
Analysts said India’s poultry sector had reported solid annual growth of as much as 15% in recent years, in part due to domestic sales based on a rapidly growing middle class and rising incomes.
India remains a cheap source for chicken exports, according to Ashwani Kumar Rajput, the executive director of All India Poultry Breeders Association. He said it cost US$1.13 to produce one kilogram of chicken in local farms. “All world-class chicken breeds are available here,” he said, “But most importantly, the feed is also available, which is the major cost component for producing chicken.”
According to Rajput, local feed costs US$0.35 per kilogramme, and it takes two kilograms of feed to produce one kilogram of chicken. Poultry products are currently significant from farms in the coastal states of Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, he said.
The major problem now restricting Indian chicken exports is bird flu, added Rajput. “India is a large country and there are frequent instances of bird flu in one area or the other, making the whole country blacklisted for exports,” he said.