Global shipping costs remain a major obstacle for food products

Dubai: While food and agricultural supply chains have recovered from pandemic-related disruptions, rising shipping costs remain a major hurdle for importers.

“Apart from the higher logistics costs, there are absolutely no worries about the food supply chain,” said Harish Tahiliani, managing director of Arab & India Spices. Importers have seen a dramatic increase in shipping costs after the onset of the pandemic. This cost will ultimately be passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices for goods and raw materials.

“At first, we witnessed a severe shortage of containers which led to disruptions across the food industry,” Tahiliani said. “However, container availability has become normalized in many countries, which has facilitated logistics.”

Higher logistics costs are now part of the “new normal” and have affected all industries equally. As for specific food items from India, “There were no supply constraints from India – even when farmers were demonstrating there was hardly any disruption as the protests were organized by a relatively small section of farmers and restricted to certain cities in India,” Tahiliani said.

Farmers in India’s major agricultural states such as Punjab and Haryana staged a year-long protest from 2020 when the government proposed three laws aimed at liberalizing the sector. The protests were finally called off last month after the government repealed the contentious laws.

Expansion moves

Arab & India Spices operates one of the largest food production facilities in the Middle East in Ajman. It now plans to address consumers directly. The company entered the UAE retail space last year with the launch of its own brands – ‘RK Pulses & Spices’ and ‘Soorya’. “We launched our B2C (business to consumer) division and are now approaching consumers directly,” Tahiliani said. “We have also started to manufacture and distribute ready-to-eat products and plan to expand this range.”

Tahiliani believes that more and more consumers are adopting a vegetarian diet and this will benefit the agricultural industry. “Since the pandemic, we are seeing changes in the lifestyle that people are following – one of the major changes is in eating habits,” he said. “It is evident that we are seeing a slow but steady shift from a non-vegetarian diet to a vegetarian diet in lifestyles. Pulses are a major source of protein in a vegetarian diet and we can expect a marked increase in demand. »

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