FoodTechHolland: Food for thought (ING Reporter, September 2011)

FoodTechHolland: Food for thought (ING Reporter, September 2011)

FoodTechHolland: Food for thought

India is one of the largest food producers in the world. Its large population and its large geographical spread have its downfall however on consumption. Lack of professional transport and an inadequate cooling chain are the main perpetrators behind the fact that an estimate of 30 to 40 percent of all food production does not end up on the market place. FoodTechHolland is a cluster of more than fifteen Dutch SME and mid-corporate companies from the food and food processing industry, that is advertising itself in the Indian market to help. Associate Wouter van Vliet of cluster facilitator Larive: “In India, it is important to lead by example”.

As a business development agency focussed solely on emerging markets, Larive has had a presence in India since 1985. In the last quarter of a century, the company has seen a lot of Dutch entrepreneurs come and fail in India – leading to the general idea that a more structured and organized approach was necessary. With help from the Dutch government’s 2getthere programme, a three year public private cluster was initiated with an unique makeup. “The approach of our cluster has been different. The companies in FoodTechHolland are from complementary sectors in the food processing industry,” says Van Vliet. “Instead of companies competing with each other within the cluster , every lead is now shared because it is bound to generate more orders”. FoodTech consists of companies from sectors such as bakery, meat, vegetables and fruit, cooling and storage.

Overcoming sanitary barriers
The main goal of the three-year public private programme is to give companies a solid position on the Indian market by branding the cluster as an credible partner in total chain solutions. Van Vliet: “The Dutch are world leaders in innovative chain thinking. Three of the world’s largest bakery equipment companies are Dutch, for example. On more than one occasion, these are successful family companies that can compete with the rest of the world.” Van Vliet elaborates that it is key to the credibility of the sector that its members actually invest in local projects in India: “We want them to lead by example. Bringing your expertise into practice is important to Indian entrepreneurs. Investments in the local context are key.”

FoodTechHolland is doing its part. It is currently conducting a feasibility study for a fully-automatic bakery in India and is working on three projects to showcase their ability to add value to products through food processing. The projects are necessary, because in India only three percent of all food gets processed – making it one of the world’s worst. FoodTechHolland can play an instrumental role to change the Indian food processing culture, but it needs to convince the Indians first. “India is not a market for quick wins. You need a longterm approach to build your credibility in order to succeed here,” Van Vliet states.

Fulltime in branding
Branding has been important since the day the cluster was introduced during a high-end food convention Food Forum India 2011 in Mumbai. “Larive has thirty offices worldwide that signal trends and have strong local expertise. Three full time employees of our Indian office spent a large part of their day to market the cluster,” the associate reveals. And one of the most important steps in realizing more credibility was through the support of the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation. They signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Indian government last July, where both where both sides pledged to overcome various sanitary barriers that hinder the bilateral relationship.
The developments have resulted in an increase in signed orders between Dutch and Indian companies. New dates on the calendar only give more food for thought. In September, FoodTechHolland will be represented on the large Indian food expo, FoodEx. Two months later, Van Vliet hopes to welcome a large group of Indian entrepreneurs to the Netherlands to show first-hand how our small country is world renowned in chain logistics. Van Vliet: “Indians are all for innovative technology to change the food processing industry. It is key to share ideas”.

More information about FoodTechHolland can be found on the website: www.foodtechholland.com

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