India’s “richer, younger urbanites” will demand more food choices

India is self-sufficient in wheat, rice, corn and milk.

But – it is becoming “richer, younger and more urban” which inevitably means consumption patterns will shift.

Just a very broad approach here – but after over two weeks in India these are the “big 6 food imports” of the next decade:

  • Nuts (almonds and walnuts)
  • Pulses (peas, chickpeas, lentils)
  • Apples, grapes and pears
  • Chocolate
  • Beverages (juice and wine)
  • Processed fruit (dried apricots, raisins, prunes and jam)

Be great to see the “Aussie Hamper” enter the gift giving market in India.

India has many remarkable achievements and hosting the Tibetans is one of them

Today I am in Dharamshala, a town on the western end of the Himalayas. This picture is taken from my hotel.

In this area in the 1950’s something remarkable happened.

The Tibetans, fleeing their own country, came here in thousands along with their young leader, His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

I do not know the history too well, but I understand that India opened its arms and gave land and refuge here and in other parts of India for the Tibetans.

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Today the Dalai Lama is older and looking a little frail, but his contribution to the western knowledge of Buddhism and putting “kindness” ahead of any belief system is just amazing – thanks in part to the country that hosted him.

Just another side of this country which at the time was struggling itself.

Remarkable India.

The problem with RCEP is it has forgotten to walk in India’s shoes

Many of us had “high hopes” for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). In a world of “trade wars” this seemed a way to create the world’s largest trade pact. Exciting stuff.

RCEP wanted to cover the 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and the six countries with which the ASEAN bloc has free trade agreements (FTA). These included Australia, China, South Korea, Japan and New Zealand.

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But now it seems to have gone. India has called a halt to it. Or, to be more accurate, inflexible negotiations on India’s concerns have pushed India out.

Here is a problem for RCEP – under their proposed deal, India faced a potential flood of Chinese imports.

Just look at the current global situation and you might understand the Indian approach.

The Indian Government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has rightly highlighted that “India’s farmers, traders, professionals and industries have stakes in such decisions.” Seems RECP negotiators were not listening.

We have to “walk in India’s shoes” to fully understand this – a decision to safeguard the interests of poor and effort to give an advantage to India’s service sector while not shying away from opening up to global competition across sectors. That is the Indian view.

The view from India was they would have been required to eliminate tariffs on 74% of goods from China, Australia and New Zealand, and 90% goods from Japan, South Korea and ASEAN. In the midst of an economic slowdown, India “faced the risk of becoming a dumping ground for cheap Chinese goods.”

There was a special concern of Chinese agricultural products hurting Indian farmers.

RCEP advocates have hurt themselves by refusing to “walk in India’s shoes”. That’s no way to negotiate.

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Ambani leaps into the online retail space as he transforms Reliance Industries Ltd

Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani (pictured) moved a step closer to creating an e-commerce giant for India, unveiling plans to set up a $24 billion digital services holding company that would become the main vehicle in his ambition to dominate the country’s internet shopping space.

This is really hotting up as Ambani takes on Amazon and Flipkart (owned by Walmart).

The board of Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd. approved a proposal to place $15 billion into the fully owned subsidiary, which will in turn invest that amount in Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd., the conglomerate’s telecommunications venture.

The move by Asia’s richest man is the latest sign of the oil-to-petrochemicals group’s pivot toward data and digital services for future growth. Ambani, 62, told shareholders in August that the new businesses, including retail, are likely to contribute half of Reliance’s earnings in a few years, versus about 32% now.

While former English teacher Jack Ma started Alibaba in 1999 from scratch, Ambani is using the heft of his empire to build something similar for India by connecting retailers and consumers.

Shares of Reliance Industries have rallied 28% this year, compared with an 8.8% gain in the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex index.

The tycoon, whose net worth is about $56 billion as per the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, has also revealed a plan to sell 20% of Reliance’s oil and chemicals business to Saudi Arabian Oil Co. at an enterprise value of $75 billion – he’s cleaning up the balance sheet and heading for a “debt free” target soon.

Watch this space!

Now India launches the worlds’ most expensive chocolate

I do love chocolate – but maybe not this much!

India’s ITC group has launched worlds’ most expensive chocolate that is priced at US$6152 per kg under its Fabelle brand name.

‘Trinity – Truffles Extraordinaire’, a limited-edition range of chocolate, that was introduced by ITC’s luxury chocolate brand Fabelle entered into Guinness World Records to become the world’s most expensive chocolate.

The chocolate is co-curated by France’s Michelin Star Chef Philippe Conticini and Fabelle’s Master Chocolatier.

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ITC Chief Operating Officer – Chocolates, Confectionary, Coffee and New Categories – Food Division, Mr. Anuj Rustagi said, “We at Fabelle are extremely happy for setting new benchmarks not just in the Indian luxury chocolate market but also now in the world with achieving the Guinness World Records feat.”

The chocolates will be offered in a hand made wooden box that will contain 15 truffles, each weighing around 15 grams. The made-to-order box will be made available at an indulgent price of US$ 1,431 inclusive of taxes.

Place your order now!

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India trade with USA given a boost while Australia is doing OK

This week USA-India trade grew to US$87 billion, as the demand from India for USA crude oil, LNG and coal took a big leap – energy imports from the USA have been around US$7 billion but this year will reach $10 billion.

Australia-India trade sits at around A$30 billion with Aussie exports of goods and services reaching $21 billion. While it could do better, compared to global data perhaps Australia is OK.

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India’s top imports continue to be Crude Petroleum, gold, diamonds coal briquettes.

India’s main exports include rice, mica, orthopaedic devices, spices, jewellery and garments.

Both USA and Australia attract thousands of Indian university students and education has become a key segment of two-way trade – perhaps the future for it is “more two way”?

India’s PM Modi facing economic slowdown and needs a growth trigger

Moody’s is the most pessimistic, predicting Indian GDP to grow at just 5.8% for Financial Year 2020.

But s the above chart shows, many others are predicting declines.

This is a challenge for Indian PM Narendra Modi who has pinned his future on sustaining growth and lifting more out of poverty.

Citigroup has been optimistic on India, predicting that by 2050 India would be the world’s biggest economy. That was based on an annual growth rate of 6.5% over 40 years.

But 2019 has seen a slowdown to around 5% growth.

The one constant in India is population growth – around 20% per decade.

While the services and manufacturing sectors are seeing good growth, more can be achieve and infrastructure across the board still needs surgery. Daily power outages are common in major cities, education outcomes disappoint and healthcare is lagging. Not to mention roads and so on.

PM Modi needs a trigger – something that can draw the business and investment communities together to regain the excitement of the India growth story.

It is a major challenge.