World Food India 2017: Event Highlights

2 Years ago'World Food India 2017: Transforming the Food Economy’ was held from 3-5 November 2017 in New Delhi. Take a look at some of the event's highlights.

India’s food processing industry is significant to India’s development, primarily due to linkages and synergies it promotes between the two pillars of our economy - industry and agriculture. The country is the second- largest producer of food and agri-commodities in the world, thereby playing a vital role in the global food processing industry. Additionally, it also ranks first globally with regard to milk production at 155.5 million tonnes in the Financial Year (FY) 2015-16.1 India is also one of the largest producers globally of various cereals, fruits and vegetables, and other livestock products.2  

To showcase India’s immense potential in food processing, the Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI) organised India’s first-ever event in food processing and allied sectors, ‘World Food India 2017: Transforming the Food Economy’, which was held from 3-5 November 2017 in New Delhi.3 The objective of the event was to cement further partnerships between India and other nations and position India as a preferred investment destination as well as a manufacturing hub for the global food processing industry, which is in line with the government’s ‘Make in India’ campaign.

WFI 2017 was rightly termed as ‘a gateway to the Indian food economy and an opportunity to showcase, connect and collaborate’.4 It was the largest gathering of investors, manufacturers, producers, food processors, policy makers and organizations from the global food ecosystem.5 WFI 2017 witnessed participation of 7,000 stakeholders from 60 countries, 75 International & National policy makers and Heads of State, 60 Global CEOs and 100 Indian CEOs; 5000 B2B meetings during the three-day event.6  

WFI 2017 was inaugurated by India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, who laid emphasis on the country’s strengths in agriculture. India has always been an agrarian economy and has gradually diversified into various other segments, including the marketing and processing of food to increase its shelf life and reduce perishability, with a perspective to increase both its domestic consumption as well as export. He said, “The second largest arable land area, and as many as 127 diverse agro-climatic zones, give us global leadership in a number of crops like bananas, mangoes, guavas, papayas, and okra.”7 Modi added that the business climate in India has significantly improved during the last few years, which has led to an increasing number of investments, especially in the food processing sector. “India is today one of the fastest growing economies of the world. The Goods and Services Tax has eliminated the multiplicity of taxes. India has jumped thirty ranks this year, in the World Bank Doing Business rankings - the highest ever improvement for India, and the highest jump for any country this year,” he said.8

To mark the historic food convention, Modi launched ‘Nivesh Bandhu’, a unique portal or “investor’s friend”, which has been set up by both MoFPI and Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). It will serve as a platform with all information on central and state government policies as well as incentives provided for the food processing sector.9

The Partner Countries at WFI 2017 included the Kingdom of Denmark, the Federal Republic of Germany and Japan, while the Focus Countries were Italian Republic and Kingdom of the Netherlands. The list of ‘Partner States’ comprised of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat and Jharkhand.10 All the partner and focus states highlighted the significant strengths of their states and how their policies have led to an improvement in the investment climate.11 Additionally, Partner Country Sessions spoke about how India can collaborate with these nations and imbibe the strengths in food processing sector each country possesses.12

Prior to the event, a two-day Hackathon was organised on 27-28 October 2017 with the theme “Developing innovative technology solutions for challenges faced by the Food Processing Sector”. The Hackathon received an overwhelming participation from students, entrepreneurs, start-ups and technology enthusiasts from across the country, who presented their solutions to concerns such as food wastage and its carbon footprint, measuring freshness and quality of fruits and vegetables, among others.13




WFI 2017 had several key sessions to highlight the immense potential of the food processing industry in India and how it aims to facilitate partnerships with other countries to fuel growth in the sector.


PLENARY SESSION: One Nation, One Food Law


The session chaired by Hon’ble Minister of Food Processing Industries, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Chairperson, Food Safety and Standards, Ashish Bahuguna and other stalwarts from the food processing industry, highlighted the importance of India’s apex food regulatory body, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).14 In order to bring about consistency in the enforcement of food safety standards and regulations across states, FSSAI is set to introduce the ‘One Food, One Law’ initiative.15 The underlying objective of this initiative is to leverage technology to implement norms uniformly for testing and sampling by various states.16


Additionally, under this initiative, FSSAI is also launching the Food Safety Compliance through a Regular Inspections and Sampling (FoSCoRIS) platform. This is an online platform, which will be used by food safety officers to verify compliance of safety standards by food businesses. A range of initiatives have also been launched to tackle malnutrition as well as obesity.17  

Lastly, FSSAI also launched the ‘Food Regulatory Portal’ to effectively implement food safety laws in the country. This portal is a single platform for food businesses to cater to both domestic operations and food imports.  




Food processing is one of the fastest growing industries in India. Today, India leads in the production of milk, bananas, mangoes, guavas, papaya and ginger, among others. It produces approximately 13.6% of fruits and 14% of vegetables produced globally.18

With regard to the dairy sector, India ranks first in the production of milk and accounts for 18.5% of the global production. The country’s dairy sector is one of the largest and fastest-growing markets in the world, with a projected growth of 13-15% Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) in the next few years. Similarly, the poultry industry in India is also counted among the fastest-growing segments and boasts an annual growth rate of 5.5% and 11.4% in egg and broiler production respectively.19

To further highlight the immense scope of these segments, a session was organised especially to educate equipment manufacturers, service providers as well as other small and large entrepreneurs involved in food processing.20  




With changing lifestyles, there is growing incidence of lifestyle-related (Non-Communicable) diseases such as Cardio Vascular Diseases (CVDs), chronic respiratory diseases, cancer and diabetes. This has led to a greater interest in preventive lifestyle rather than a curative approach. Though this is a common phenomenon in urban areas, the situation in rural India is completely different. A significant population in rural areas suffers from malnutrition and requires food enriched with vitamins and minerals. Both these scenarios can be tackled by the Nutraceuticals and Fortified foods segment.21  

From being a rarity to becoming an essential part of a health-conscious person’s diet, Nutraceuticals have undergone quite a transformation. The Nutraceuticals market in India stood at USD 2.4 billion in 2015 and with immense scope in this field, India can become one of the biggest hubs for herbal and dietary supplements. Furthermore, fortification is the practice of making frequently-eaten foods more nutritious without relying on consumers to change their habits.22  

This session effectively discussed the opportunities in these food segments with regard to industry issues such as availability of processable varieties, organised farming and other similar areas.23  




With increasing growth of the food processing industry and focus on issues of food quality and safety, there is greater demand for more sophisticated machinery and equipment. Since a large number of small and medium enterprises are involved in the food processing industries, the cost of the equipment becomes a critical concern. Given that a large number of specialised equipment is being imported the cost becomes high. This represents an opportunity for India to establish a manufacturing base for the machinery and equipment within the country.24  

Further, to encourage the upgradation of technology in the sector, the government has provided incentives in terms of duty reductions and other fiscal incentives. Taking cue from this, the session deliberated on the technology and equipment scenario of the Indian food processing industry, favourable incentives available to the importers as well as manufacturers and the scope for future growth.25




There was another session on ‘Retail - Base of a billion consumers’, which discussed how increasing Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) from global food giants has revolutionised the country’s food processing sector. The discussion also focused on opportunities offered in the food retail sector, benefits for different stakeholders as well as suggestions for integration of the supply chain and backward integration essential for retailers.26

Lastly, a session on ‘Innovative financing to unleash growth’ stressed upon the need for credit to boost growth in various segments of the food processing sector. Furthermore, the financial needs of processed food and beverage manufacturers as well as various financing options available to fund this growing demand were also discussed.27

The three-day mega convention concluded with an investment commitment of USD 19 billion (out of which USD 11.25 billion is from the private sector) from the 50 MoUs signed.28 The companies who signed an MoU included PepsiCo, who invested USD 2.05 billion for setting up a Food and Beverage plant; Coca-Cola signed an MoU worth USD 1.6 billion for juice bottling infrastructure and fruit processing plants. Apart from this, ITC and Patanjali also committed to investing USD 1.5 billion each.29

Another striking feature of the event was the “Food Street” – a dedicated zone, especially curated by renowned chef Sanjeev Kapoor, which showcased Indian and foreign cuisines. The objective was to popularize Indian cuisine to international markets and display how local ingredients from India could be used as a part of world cuisines.30 Interestingly, at the exhibition, a Guinness world record was created by cooking 918 kgs of khichdi, a dish made with rice and lentils.31

The Valedictory Session was presided over by Indian President Shri Ram Nath Kovind. He added,”World Food India 2017 has helped showcase the vast and near limitless opportunities in the food industry and in food processing in India. “India’s food consumption is currently valued at USD 370 billion and is expected to reach USD trillion by 2025, in less than a decade. There are opportunities across the entire food value chain in India – including post-harvest facilities, logistics, cold chains, and manufacturing. It is a sector with a large business appetite and the food industry can be a huge employer,” Kovind said. He also gave away Start-up awards and Hackathon Awards to college students, who helped suggest ways of detecting food adulteration.32

The event provided a huge impetus to the food processing sector by displaying its strengths as well as the huge potential it offers to those investing in the country. With upgradation of technology and other modern processing techniques, India’s USD 600 billion industry is expected to grow three-fold by 2020.33