Kerala has showcased its huge potential in food processing and value-addition sector before global investors and entrepreneurs at the recently-concluded Gulfood 2024, one of the world’s largest annual food and beverages events in Dubai. There were unique products including spices and an assortment of ready-to-eat items at the five-day expo in the Kerala pavilion.

At the ‘Investor Conclave’, senior officials led by Suman Billa, Principal Secretary (Industries and NORKA), briefed industry leaders from around the world on the State’s core strengths, interactions during the event proved highly promising.

“We made a strong and convincing case before the numerous investors and entrepreneurs, who are keen to seize on the immense opportunities offered by the State reinforced by the government’s pro-active policies. The response has been highly encouraging,” Billa said.

Kerala had over 140,000 new enterprises that were started in the last fiscal year and by December 31, the number had crossed 200,000. Almost 25 per cent of them are in the food sector and they need to look beyond domestic consumption. “If all these enterprises are manufacturing food products, then we need to look up beyond the traditional Kerala market. We need to expand it to other states and to other countries, as well,” he added.

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“We think the first landing point is going to be the UAE. The UAE and Kerala have a very strong traditional commercial relationship and what we wanted to explore is how we can leverage this in the background of the comprehensive economic partnership agreement between India and the UAE.”

Billa presented a detailed overview of the State’s food sector with an impressive infrastructure dedicated to food processing, including five modern food processing parks, two mega food parks and upcoming mini food parks. The State is also home to a spices park, underscoring its rich heritage in spice cultivation.

The State contributes significantly to India’s agricultural output, accounting for 97 per cent of India’s pepper, 70 per cent of cocoa and substantial shares in coffee, cashew, coconut, and seafood processing. It also contributes extensively to the export ecosystem by way of the widely networked seafood processing, Ready-To-Eat and Ready-To-Cook products which are rapidly gaining traction globally.