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Florida keen to export agricultural products to India

October 11, 2007 15:49 IST

In order to help the farmers of Florida, the Sunshine State is seemingly looking at India these days, or so it seems.

In the first major step to help the state's agricultural producers to augment their exports, Agriculture Commissioner Charles H Bronson released a report to explore the opportunities to export agricultural products to India's large and growing consumer market.

The 60-page report titled, India: Road to Success, seeks to help producers seeking to export their products to get familiar with the market and the opportunities in India.

'Florida continues to export agricultural commodities to 100 nations annually, accounting for nearly 20 per cent of our production. The Indian market is of interest to Florida agricultural producers. It is my hope that this report will provide Florida agri-businesses, educators and the general public with a new perspective on the potential of India's vast market,' Bronson said.

Bronson is taking steps to improve the worldwide market share of Florida farmers, which will ensure agriculture continues to make a significant contribution to the state's economy.

Declining sales tax revenue in Florida makes it all the more important to maintain a strong agriculture industry, which ranks second only to tourism as a top industry in the state.

The report presents data obtained during marketing research missions conducted over the past four years by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in conjunction with the Southern United States Trade Association.

'This democracy of 1.1 billion consumers has an underdeveloped retail sector and an appetite for international goods,' Bronson said, adding, 'The Indian market presents opportunities for exporters worldwide, and we want to help Florida's agricultural producers develop an understanding of the economy, culture, demographics, and consumer preferences of this dynamic country.'

Marketing representatives conducted consumer research in four major areas of India --Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi, and the tri-city region that includes Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai. More than 1,600 individual consumer surveys were completed, providing insight into the buying habits of Indians.

Research showed a modern and sophisticated retail grocery sector was emerging amid the 12 million roadside kiosks and shops that traditionally provided the nation with its supply of food.

'With a gross domestic product that has increased an average of more than 7 per cent annually for the past decade, a reduction in tariffs, and the easing of government restrictions on foreign investment, India's economy is expanding at a pace rivaling that of China,' it said.

'Today, we are seeing the first signs of domestic modern grocery stores operating in a variety of areas. Poised to enter the picture are also a number of international retailers, including US-based Wal-Mart, French Carrefour and British Tesco, each actively negotiating agreements and analyzing opportunities,' he said.

'An estimated 120 million affluent Indian consumers are fueling India's retail revolution,' Bronson said.

'Currently this country has fewer than 2,000 US-type supermarkets, but this number is growing rapidly. As grocery retailers expand, so does the need for imported products to satisfy consumer demand. Florida producers should be poised for these opportunities,' he said.

Suman Guha Mozumder in New York