Punjab Markfed’s export of canned foods plunges

After 40% dip in overseas sales of tinned products, state Cooperation department reviews situation; mulls over strategy to regain the lost ground

DW Bureau / Chandigarh

Asia’s largest marketing cooperation and Punjab’s flagship public sector undertaking, Markfed has shown a sharp fall in the export of its tinned products, including the iconic “Sarso da saag”. Government sources attribute this sharp decline to changing geopolitical situation in the Middle East and more stringent food safety norms in European Union, including Britain.

The European regulators do not regard roasting in desi ghee (tadka) as safe for human consumption, as a result of which one of the Markfed’s most lucrative markets has effectively shut its door to its canned products. Unlike some Pakistan brands which have been able to modify the cooking medium and the recipes so as to be complaint with EU norms, the relatively ‘lazy’ Punjab cooperative giant has not been able to move quickly. As a result, new players from China, Holland and Pakistan have captured the Markfed’s traditional markets in Europe and the UK.

On the other hand, while the Markfed products are still compliant with norms of most countries in the Middle East, political turmoil in Qatar which led to blockage of all exports to Quatar through UAE has dealt a huge blow to the exports of otherwise popular products of Markfed to countries.

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Government figures show that the exports of Markfed’s tinned products dipped from 101 containers valued at Rs 20.34 crore in 2016-17 to a mere 72 containers valued at Rs 11.90 crore in 2017-18, thereby posting a fall of over 40 per cent in the overseas sale of its top brands. As against 54 containers sent to UAE and 18 containers exported to Australia in 2016-17, Markfed could ship only 30 containers to UAE and just 4 containers to Australia in 2017-18.

Markfed’s newly-appointed Managing Director, Rahul Tiwari told Daily World on Friday that the organisation has discussed the matter in details with the officials dealing with exports of tinned products. Almost 30 per cent of total exports to UAE which was being consumed in Qatar market alone got affected due to the political turmoil. The Markfed has asked the distributor of UAE to open a company in Qatar so that shipments to Quatar could start directly. “We are taking several other measures to ensure that the exports of our tinned products picks up fast,” he added.

When contacted, Additional Chief Secretary (Cooperation) D P Reddy said: “We are already seized of the situation and have carried out a comprehensive review not only with a view to recapture the traditional markets but also develop new ones in Asian nations and the Americas.”

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