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ISAS Working Paper
No. 15 – Date: 6 October 2006 (All rights reserved)
Institute of South Asian Studies
Hon Sui Sen Memorial Library Building
1 Hon Sui Sen Drive (117588)
Tel: 68744239 Fax: 67767505
Email: [email protected]

Professor N. Viswanadham 1
The Rise of Retail in India
The time has come for Indian retailing. The signals are there all over. The newspapers, business press, the governments, the Chief Executive Officers of large corporations, all talk about it day in day out. The Indian economy is likely to continue its steady growth with enhanced share in global trade and steady agricultural outputs. Booming employment opportunities, rising urban disposable income and credit card ownerships, changing lifestyles and demographic profiles all are showing a favorable skew towards a rising consumerism culture, boding well for retailing growth. Consumer spending is clearly set to accelerate its pace.

Demographics continued to show a positive skew to spur retailing growth. Consumers groups aged between 20-45 years are emerging as the fastest growing consumer group and the mean age of Indians is now pegged at 27, a mean age that reinforces spending across all the retailing channels of grocery, non-grocery and non-store. India’s burgeoning middle class will drive up nominal retail sales through 2010 by 10 percent per annum. At the same time, organised retail is becoming more important. At present organized retail accounts for a mere 3 percent of the total; by 2010 this share will already have reached 10 percent. Thus most of India’s growth in retail is in the future, not the past.


Professor N. Viswanadham is the Executive Director of the Centre for Global Logistics and Manufacturing Strategies at the Indian School of Business. He is also an Associate at the Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS), an autonomous research institute within the National University of Singapore. This paper was prepared by Professor Viswanadham for ISAS.

No day passes without the announcement by one of the corporate houses such as Reliance regarding investment of millions of dollars in retail. Reliance has announced investments in farm to plate infrastructure in the Indian States of Punjab, Gujarat and West Bengal. Reliance is also acquiring shopping cooperatives, super bazaar, etc. Retail giants such as Pantaloons, Food world and Trinetra have all announced big expansion plans.

The structure of retailing is also developing rapidly. Shopping malls are becoming increasingly common in large cities. The number of department stores is growing much faster than overall retail, at an annual rate of 24 percent. Supermarkets have been taking an increasing share of general food and grocery. Several builders have announced plans for development of 150 new shopping malls by 2008. National real estate developers such as Rahejas, Omaxe, Ansals, Uni-Tech, Parasnath, Vatika, Vipul Infrastructure and DLF are also undertaking key retail developments.

The country’s middle class has been expanding due to rapid urbanization, increasing per capita income, increased participation of women in the urban work force and globalization. Although decreasing with rapid urbanization, food is still a major spend in the Indian households. Rural retailing is witnessing explorations by both corporations and entrepreneurs – ITC's Choupal Sagar, HLL's project Shakthi and Mahamaza are some of the models being tried out. While conclusive evidence to identify the winning rural retailing model is not yet available, such experiments are steps in the right direction. Grocery retailers continued to be the staple of retailing in 2005, accounting for three-quarters of overall retailing value sales. India witnessed a breathtaking rise in grocery retailer outlet numbers fuelled by the rapid expansion of modern retail formats, such as supermarkets, hypermarkets and convenience stores.

The State of Agribusiness
Nature has been very good to India. India has 52 percent of total cultivable land as against 11 percent in the world. All 15 major climates of the world from snow-bound Himalayas to hot humid southern peninsula and the Thar Desert to heavy rain areas exist in India. There are 20 agro-climatic regions and nearly 46 out of 60 soil types in the country. Sunshine hours and day length are ideally suited for round the year cultivation of crops. India is the centre for


biodiversity in plants, animals, insects, micro-organism and accounts for 17 percent animal, 12 percent plants and 10 percent fish genetic resources of the globe.

Using the above comparative advantages, India has been the second highest fruit and vegetable producer in the world, second highest producer of milk with a cold storage capacity of 70,000 tonnes, fifth largest producer of eggs, and the sixth largest producer of fish with harvesting volumes of 5.2 million tonnes. However, the exports from India are poor. Compared to other countries the land productivity in India is low. Even with in the country, there are tremendous variations among the states in terms of farm productivity. There is a tremendous scope for increasing the farm outputs using state of the art pre-harvest technologies and harvesting techniques. Value added agriculture has not yet caught on within the Indian scene. Post-harvest technologies are at a nascent stage in India. Pre-cooling, cold chain, packaging and transport using totes or small containers are all absent, resulting in substandard delivery of groceries and enormous amounts of wastage.

Food Processing Industry
Food Processing Industry has enormous significance for India’s development for the vital linkages and synergies it supports between industry and agriculture - the two pillars of the economy. Food processing industries have a crucial role to play in providing nutritious food to the population, increasing the shelf life of the produce and also in the reduction of postharvest losses. Another most important point in the food industry is that a substantial portion being rural based it has a very high employment potential with significantly lower investment.

Today processed food is considered an elitist item and is taxed heavily. It is more expensive than fresh food which is a paradox. Large scale processed food production and distribution to a one billion strong population will create the economies of scale and would reduce the costs of final delivery. The disease burden of the nation will reduce substantially if one can supply nutritious food to the masses since 60 percent of diseases are water borne and the 10 percent or more is due to malnutrition.


The Scenario in States
Politically, India is divided into 28 states and six federally-administered Union Territories. The political divisions generally follow linguistic and ethnic boundaries rather than geographic transitions. India's huge size sees climatic conditions in Kashmir having little relation to that in the extreme south. Agribusiness also varies from state to state. In this report, we study two states: Andhra Pradesh and Punjab. Both are agriculturally fertile states and have innovative schemes for attracting FDI. Reliance has recently announced vast amounts of capital investments in the state of Punjab in retail and also value added agriculture. There are immense opportunities for investments in grocery retail in all the Indian states. This situation regarding the food supply chains in India is applicable for all states. The research on food supply chain and the plans for innovation and modernization of these chains are done more by the Central Government rather than by the State Governments. This is unfortunate and one would expect to find a changed situation soon when the private sector investments in the Super markets increase and put the states under pressure to improve agribusiness investments.

The Way Forward
One finds that the supply chain that connects the vast natural resources and the farmers to both the organised as well as the unorganized retail is highly inefficient with several intermediaries and manual handling. The result is lots of wastage as much as 30 percent and also less remuneration for the farmers. There is no supply chain integrator or channel master for Indian retail channels.

The plentiful fertile natural resources are under-utilized or not efficiently utilized. Agriculture is a part of Indian rural life for a long time and it has not changed its face over the decades. There is little attention for value added agriculture in the whole country.

Research on improving the farm productivity, pre-harvesting, post-harvest methodologies, processed food product development, packaging, distribution, transport, cold chain, store management, warehouse management and the entire supply chain management are very much neglected both by the central and state governments and also by the corporates.


The research on pre and post harvest methods as well as on efficient harvesting methods is in the domain of national horticultural institutes. The post harvest transport and handling of perishable fruits and vegetables is deplorable in India with enormous amount of substandard produce and marketed products.

Our concern in this report is on logistics and supply chain management of food products. Cold chains for various products either does not exist or not used because they are very expensive. Development of cold chains, warehouses and refrigerated trucks and railway wagons is a priority item.

Development of processed food products is another important item that requires much attention. India is a vast country with multiplicity of cultures, tastes, food habits, religions and languages. Each region has its own exotic food items and this provides enormous variety for the Indian consumer from east to west, north to south. Currently there are no laboratories for processed food product development and testing. These are usually done in private laboratories or in the households. There is a need for developing these facilities so that all the food processing industries can test their recipes and food products.

The efficient operations of high volume retail supply chains are dependent on the availability of supply chain assets such as containers, pallets, racks, cages, totes, trays, trucks and trailers to meet the day-to-day operational needs of the retailer in supplier depots, retail distribution centers and retail stores. However, a lack of visibility to these assets as they move through the supply chain, or where they may be positioned when not in use, often results in misdirected, misplaced and inadvertent stockpiling of critical supply chain assets.

The two surveys by KPMG last year (2005) (see Figures 1.1 and 1.2) substantiate the above statements. In addition the survey also points out supplier selection not being strategic and also about limited use of IT in retail.


Figure 1.1: Key challenges in the Indian retail market

Retail Enterprise Resource Planning Systems (ERP) and Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) are unable to track assets beyond the boundaries of the retail supply chain into the supplier base, and often times even into the retail store.

Figure 1.2: Level of IT usage among Indian retailers

This can cause a significant surplus of asset inventory leading to excessive capital expenditure or lease, rental and demurrage costs. To the other extreme, lack of visibility may also cause critical local shortages that impact both store and distribution center deliveries, and may even cause out-of-stocks at individual stores. Along with these concerns, excessive costs are incurred with an increase in transportation, demurrage and lease costs, as well as an over dependence on error-ridden, labor intensive practices.


Opportunities for Foreign Investors
It can be easily seen that Indian states offer huge investment opportunities in the food supply chain area. The opportunities present themselves in a variety of ways:


Asset intensive Malls and Warehouses construction and cold chain transportation infrastructure;


Post harvest agriculture practices for preservation of quality and increasing the shelf life;


Retail logistics of home deliver; and.


Planning and execution software and hardware that induce efficient operation into the supply chain.

Demographics of India
India is located in the south of Asian continent. The country is bordered by the Arabian Sea to its west, the Bay of Bengal to its east and the Indian Ocean to its south. India lies to the north of the equator between 8.4 and 37.6 degrees north latitude and 68.7 and 97.25 degrees east longitude. The total land area of India is 2,973,190 sq km measuring 3,214 km from north to south and 2,933 km from east to west. It shares land boundaries worth 15,200 km and the coastline is 7516.5 km long. Forested land constitutes 21.6 percent of the total land area.

Politically, India is divided into 28 states, six federally administered union territories and a national capital territory. The political divisions generally follow linguistic and ethnic boundaries rather than geographic transitions. It is difficult to generalize India's climate. India's huge size sees climatic conditions in Kashmir having little relation to that in the extreme south. Climate in India ranges from tropical in the south to a temperate climate in the north. Parts of India in the Himalayas have polar climate.


The fertile Indo-Gangetic plain occupies most of northern, central and eastern India, while the Deccan Plateau occupies most of southern India. To the west of the country is the Thar Desert, which consists of a mix of rocky and sandy desert. India's east and northeastern border consists of the high Himalayan range. India is particularly rich in a variety of natural resources. Along with 56 percent arable land, it has significant sources of Coal (fourth-largest reserves in the world), Iron ore, Manganese, Mica, Bauxite, Titanium ore, Chromite, Natural gas, Diamonds, Petroleum, Limestone, Thorium (world's largest along Kerala's shores).

Petroleum is found off the coast of Maharashtra, Gujarat and in Assam, but meets only 40 percent of India's demand. Increasing amounts of natural gas are being discovering regularly especially off the coast of Andhra Pradesh. Uranium is mined in Andhra Pradesh and gold in the Kolar Gold Fields in Karnataka. 2

Life Style Changes
Huge population base of 1.08 billion, growing at about 1.6 percent per annum, provides a large and growing domestic market for food products. While food accounts for only 9.7 percent of the total private consumption expenditure for an average American, 15 percent for the Japanese & British, for the Indian it is the principal component of their consumption expenditure, accounting for as much as 53 percent. Further, rising per capita incomes, changing life-styles and a growing younger population with preference for convenience foo...

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