India’s Processed Food Exports Witnessed a Growth of 26% in 2020

16 August 2021
India Export Data

Food processing industry is one of the largest industries in India in terms of production, consumption, growth and export. India’s food processing sector covers spices, fruit & vegetables, milk & milk products, meat & poultry, fisheries, alcoholic beverages, grain processing and other consumer product groups like high protein foods, mineral water, chocolates, confectionery, etc. Major processed food products exported from India include oil meals, alcoholic beverages, milled products, cereals preparations, guar gum, groundnuts, processed fruits & juices, processed vegetables and pulses.

In the economic nightmare caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, India’s processed food exports still witnessed a 26% growth in 2020. According to the estimates reported by the Ministry of Food Processing Industries, the share of agricultural & processed food commodities in India’s total exports has been 11% in 2020. India’s export earnings can go up if the country can export value added processed food products rather than the primary processed agricultural commodities.

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown, India saw a boom in agricultural exports in 2020. According to Agricultural & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), exports of agricultural products have significantly increased from a five-year average of USD 17.8 billion from 2015-2019 to USD 20.65 billion in 2020. India’s major export destinations of processed food products are Europe, the Middle East, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Korea.

Change in Non-Basmati Rice and Poultry Meat Industry

Export of non-basmati rice recorded an unusual spike, earning more foreign exchange than basmati rice. According to India export data, India exported about 13 million tonnes of non-basmati rice (USD 4.8 billion) in 2020, up from an average 6 million tonnes (USD 2.7 billion) in the previous five years.

India exported about 4 million tonnes of basmati rice (USD 4 billion) in 2020, followed the trend of 2015-2019 five-year average of 4 million tonnes (USD 3.9 billion).

Buffalo meat exports from India declined to USD 3.17 billion in 2020 from an average of USD 3.7 billion during 2015-2019. That dollar amount has crossed USD 4 billion mark in 2014. Lower exports were due to restrictions imposed by China on import from Vietnam and Hong Kong, which were the major importers of buffalo meat from India. Indonesia offers a great potential but only the government agencies are allowed to import buffalo meat and there is a quota for its import from India.

India’s exports of poultry, sheep and goat meat have also gone down in 2020. As per India export statistics, guar gum exports also dropped from the 2015-2019 five-year average of USD 0.55 billion to USD 0.26 billion in 2020.  Visualize India trade data of processed food exports from India with average value of 2015-2019 and value of 2020.


Average (2015-2019) (Value USD Billion)

2020 (Value USD Billion)

Non-Basmati Rice



Basmati Rice



Buffalo Meat



Processed Vegetables



Processed Fruits, Juices & Nuts




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India’s Exports of Processed Food Products by Quantity 2020

Value added products such as processed vegetables, alcoholic beverages and milled products have witnessed a robust growth of more than 40% in 2020, compared to same period in the previous year. Below given chart shows quantity of major processed products exported by India in 2020.


Quantity in MTs



Processed Vegetables


Processed Fruits & Juices




Guar Gum


Cereals Preparations


Cocoa Products


Milled Products


Alcoholic Beverages



Due to the global outbreak of novel coronavirus, supply chains were disrupted and consumer behaviour was changed significantly to incorporate new social norms such as social distancing practices and lockdowns. Opportunities for investment in food processing sector are now expected to increase once infrastructure and reliability of supply chains and distribution patterns evolve past the challenges of Covid-19 pandemic.

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