India Market Knowledge Day for the Food and Drink Sector

By Shubhi Mishra

Ahead of the very exciting ‘Export to India – Virtual Meet the Buyer event, 22 - 25 March 2021, the Department for International Trade (DIT), in conjunction with the Great British Food Programme, the UK India Business Council (UKIBC), and the Forum of Indian Food Importers (FIFI) organised a pre-event market briefing – India Market Knowledge Day Webinar on 17 March - for the UK food and drink producers to understand the current market situation, opportunities, and requirements of exporting to India.

The webinar turned out to be an opportune engagement for over 110 UK’s leading food and drink producers, who eventually participated in the Meet the Buyer event where 450 1:2:1 meetings were delivered.  As well as another 100+ 1:2:1 meetings between the UK producers and the team at UKIBC. The India Market Knowledge Day session furnished an excellent opportunity to learn, understand and engage with the key officials from the DIT, UKIBC, FIFI, and the Government of India’s food regulator, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).

DIT’s Minister for Exports, Mr Graham Stuart welcomed the attendees and outlined the brilliant opportunities and significance of trade in the food and drink sector between both countries. As it was mentioned, the Indian market is both huge and growing, and the ever-improving ease of doing business and regulatory environment is making it easier to export and operate in India. Reciprocating the same message as Minister Stuart and building upon, UKIBC’s Managing Director, Mr Kevin McCole shared an insightful presentation about the latest F&D regulatory reforms, growth drivers, opportunities for UK businesses, and the ‘new normal’ in the post-COVID world. In the words, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a big challenge for the F&D industry in India too, as it is the case globally, however, the sector is adapting to the changing global trade outlook.

Soon after, Director Imports, FSSAI, Dr. Amit Sharma updated the attendees with a brilliant presentation on upcoming initiatives by FSSAI on importer license, sanitary and health certificates, post-clearance surveillance, clearance fees, and more. Dr Sharma also talked about the new portal for import clearance,  proposed changes, food safety alert portal, and its classifications, and the commonly occurring non-compliances by the exporters and their Indian partners. Post his presentation, Dr Sharma addressed the questions from the UK exporters on the Certificate of Analysis (CoA) requirement, Shea Butter Import Regulations, and the recent draft regulation on the audit of overseas F&D manufacturing facilities.

Joining forces with Dr. Sharma, Mr. Amit Lohani, Founder and Director at FIFI, gave a clear-sighted and very informative presentation on the Indian F&D sector – Current Trends and Future Possibilities, which certainly cleared any possible queries or doubts about the Indian market from the exporter perspective. Mr Lohani shared his institutional knowledge on the Indian demographics, trends in India’s international trade, growth drivers and challenges, consumption patterns in both organised and unorganised retail market, booming e-commerce sector, supply chain dynamics, labeling regulations, and in nutshell, a comprehensive Indian market entry strategy.

Concurrently, in between the presentations, UKIBC’s Food and Drink head, Ms Shubhi Mishra moderated the question-and-answer session and raised the concerns of the UK exporters to the respective speakers of the webinar. Finally, the session was completed by DIT’s International Innovation & Delivery Manager, Mr Paul Abley who spoke on the Future Market Engagements – the Virtual Meet the Buyer event, followed by the physical AAHAR 2021 trade show anticipated in August 2021 in New Delhi. The AAHAR 2021 physical trade show will be staffed by UKIBC officials, with a brochure stand, highlighting companies looking to engage in India, and finally, the leads will be collated by UKIBC and GBFP teams and passed to relevant International Trade Advisers (ITAs) to discuss further with the UK producers.

Many thanks to all who participated in our Knowledge Day session – you can watch the session here.

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