What’s in Store for Refrigeration and Cold Chain Industry?
By Harshal Surange and Arvind Surange
Well, what’s in store for the refrigeration and cold chain industry? ISHRAE being such a large player in the HVAC&R field, it was only a matter of time before it happened. This is the first time ISHRAE is venturing into an exclusive mega-show for the industrial refrigeration and cold chain industry, christened RefCold. The exhibition, along with the allied events being organized and created by ISHRAE and co-organised by NürnbergMesse, is being spearheaded by the dynamic and enthusiastic past president of ISHRAE, Pankaj Dharkar, who is the Chairman of RefCold. With the city of Ahmedabad being the host and Gujarat being the home state of our Prime Minister, the show is bound to be one that the entire industry will stand up and notice. RefCold will be held at Mahatma Mandir Convention cum Exhibition Centre, Gandhinagar, Gujarat from November 22 to 24, 2018. The timing would be apt for such a show, as most cold storage owners and operators have a lull period during this time and would be free to attend it. There are a significant number of International organisations and countries that have tied up with RefCold, and hence it promises to be a truly international event. With ISHRAE having a member strength exceeding 12000 and a student member strength of over 9000, there is a significant backup from ISHRAE for the event, which will help in creating a long-lasting brand.
ACREX 2018 had a refrigeration and cold chain pavilion, as in the last three years. However, now a decision has been made to discontinue this pavilion and organise a full-fledged RefCold instead. So this year’s refrigeration and cold chain pavilion in ACREX was the last. Henceforth, ACREX will be an exclusive HVAC show along with other events under the BFA umbrella, with the ‘R’ in ACREX becoming the preserve of RefCold. ACREX 2018 had a seminar and two workshops dedicated to refrigeration and cold chain, which were held concurrently with the exhibition. The seminar was held on the day before ACREX actually began, and the half-day workshops were organised on the first and second day of ACREX. All the events were well attended. A seminar on CO2 Refrigeration for Supermarkets was arranged at IIT Madras and supported by ISHRAE Chennai. For the first time in the history of ISHRAE, four RefCon events were held in one month during January 2018, beginning with Indore on January 6, then on January 10 at Vizag, January 16 at Kolhapur and January 20 at Thane. All the events were well attended in line with ISHRAE’s intent that the refrigeration and cold chain space must be well represented. Another aspect of what’s in store for the refrigeration and cold chain industry would be to look at the highlights of the recent Union Budget and its key takeaways. These are explained in the paras that follow. Many of the points are picked up from Pawanexh Kohli’s article on the subject, and we thank him for the same.
Continuing the efforts towards the goal of doubling farmers’ income by 2022, the Union Budget 2018 has a huge focus on agriculture and the related agri-tech sector. Various schemes and measures announced in the budget are aimed towards increasing the market reach and sale realisations for the farmers as well as facilitating higher production. Some key highlights of the budget related to the agri sector are:
• Develop and upgrade 22,000 Grameen Agriculture Markets (GrAMs) in rural areas to serve as direct markets as well as aggregation and dispatch hubs to collect, package and transport produce to bigger markets at the individual or collective level.
• Expand eNAM coverage for farmer welfare by connecting 585 APMCs to eNAM and enable online sale of produce from farmers directly to consumers and bulk purchasers. This objective complements the Digital India initiative wherein the government proposes to set up 5 lakh wifi hotspots in rural India. This move has the potential to bring a change in the way farmers operate and sell produce.
• Ensure Minimum Support Price (MSP) for farmers growing Kharif crops at 1.5 times the cost of production. This will in turn ensure liquid cash with farmers that will increase their investment in agri tools.
• ‘Operation Green’ will be launched by the government for development of the entire chain from the farm to the consumer for potatoes, onions and tomatoes.
• Kisan Credit Card benefits have been extended to animal husbandry, fisheries and aquaculture sectors.
• The budget allocation for food processing has been doubled, thus continuing the efforts towards reducing food waste, setting up food parks and improving food quality. This should prove beneficial for exports as well as attracting investments from international chains.
• Other financial benefits like income tax exemption for the next five years for FPOs with turnover under Rs. 100 crores, raising institutional credit for agriculture, and allocation for irrigation development to focus on 96 districts where less than 30 per cent of the land holding receives assured irrigation.
Overall, the budget looks positive towards providing various measures to increase farmers’ incomes and boost the domestic and export food market for India. The focused effort on increasing food production, facilitating direct, aggregated as well as online sale, investment in food processing sector along with liberalisation of agri-commodities exports, look promising for our agri-based economy. And this should create a lot of opportunities for cold storage, supply chains, logistics, packaging and related industries. Incentives like tax exemption on some of the cold chain components, subsidies for setting up new cold chain facilities, etc. will continue to provide the required boost to the cold chain industry. Operation Green would be the next big thing and we should see a lot of work
happening around the three products that the scheme focuses on.