Airconditioning and Commercial Refrigeration major Blue Star has bagged a prestigious order from Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) for setting up India's largest state-of-the-art Perishable Cargo Handling Centre at the International Airport in Mumbai. This facility, which would cover a total area of around 27,000 square feet would largely help exporters of perishable horticulture and other agro products. The Mumbai Airport currently handles around 40,000 tonnes of perishable agro produce per annum and this figure is expected to touch 70,000 tonnes per annum in the next five years.
APEDA has initiated several quality and post harvest management programs to improve the infrastructure of cold chain facilities in the country. Cold chains would ensure not only improvement in the quality of produce but also an increase in price realisation. APEDA has identified certain critical locations for supporting exports and has set up cold storages and cargo handling facilities at the international airports in New Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Trivandrum and Pune. The exporters by establishing units at their facilities and by using refrigerated transport can thus form a cold chain and enhance shelf life.
Blue Star is a well established player in the Airconditioning and Commercial Refrigeration market and has established leadership in the manufacture and installation of a wide range of commercial refrigeration equipment such as cold storage, deep freezers and water coolers. In the cold storage segment, Blue Star is the largest corporate player and has acquired a high level of competence in terms of design, manufacture, installation and after-sales service. It has supplied and installed cold storages for a variety of applications in horticulture, sericulture, floriculture, poultry, dairy, food and pharmaceutical industries. Blue Star has also set up the perishable cargo facilities of APEDA in Chennai, Hyderabad and Bangalore. Blue Star was selected for the Mumbai centre after a global bid tender procedure.
Mumbai centre which is being set up at a cost of Rs 15 crores, will be the country's largest and also the most sophisticated one, with ultra modern amenities. These include fully automated and computerized document processing, weighing, x-rays with storage and retrieval at specific temperatures for different products. Also, exporters will be able to ascertain the status of their products on the internet. The entire facility would be refrigerated between 10-12o C and state-of-the-art material handling equipment will be used for gentle and efficient handling of perishable cargo including vegetables, fruits, flowers, meat and poultry products. The entire centre , which is expected to be operational by March 2002, will be set up by Blue Star on a turnkey basis.
With APEDA having plans of setting up similar facilities at Amritsar, Calcutta and Ahmedabad airports, the future of exports of perishable goods looks bright.