India’s growing population, rising incomes, and increasing rates of urbanisation are driving demand for agricultural, fisheries and forestry (AFF) products.
The ‘grocery and food retail market’ is the largest segment of the Indian retail sector, valued at US$570 billion in 2021. This is forecast to rise to US$850 billion by 2025 (Invest India 2022). Indian imports of AFF products reached a record US$37.3 billion in 2021 (UN Comtrade 2022).
The value of Australian AFF exports to India peaked at $2.57 billion in 2017. The value of exports in 2021 was $634.8 million, 75.3% lower than 2017 levels. This decline was due to lower pulse and wheat exports (see Figure 1).
Australian exporters are well positioned to capitalise on new commercial opportunities in India. This is due to the Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (AI-ECTA), counter-seasonality and geographical proximity.
Figure 1: Australian AFF exports to India January 2016 to April 2022 (in A$ billion)
India’s grocery and food retail market is rapidly evolving because of a growing economy and changing demographics. India:
These changes are expected to result in higher agri-food consumption over the long term (ABARES 2020). India’s grocery and food retail sector is growing rapidly. It is expected to increase in value from US$570 billion in 2021 to US$850 billion by 2025.
Consumption of agri-food products in India consists of 80% staple foods and fresh produce. Consumers look for products with strong food safety and sustainability standards (Invest India 2022).
In the long term, India’s agri-food consumption will become more diverse with higher intakes of dairy products, seafood, fruit and vegetables (Source: OECD-FAO 2022). The change in consumption is expected to occur most among urban households where income growth is expected to be the largest. Confectionaries, beverages and snacks are also growing rapidly.
Figure 2: Indian GDP per capita by state or union territory (in ₹)
The value of Indian AFF imports rose by 45.3% from US$25.7 billion in 2020 to US$37.3 billion in 2021 (UN Comtrade 2022) (see Figure 3). This was a result of increased import volumes and high international prices.
Figure 3: India AFF trade, 2011 to 2021 (in US$ billion)
The following products had substantial year-on-year import growth:
India remains a complex market with substantial barriers to entry from tariffs and non-tariff barriers. There is also strong competition from domestic and international companies (USDA 2021). Tariffs on many AFF products range between 30% to 55% (see Figure 4).
Figure 4: India tariffs on selected AFF products