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Business News/ Economy / Goan feni to set sail for foreign shores, with mahua to follow

Goan feni to set sail for foreign shores, with mahua to follow

The cashew fruit-based alcoholic beverage may find its way to shelves of overseas liquor stores, with the Centre encouraging the industry to adopt global standards

The Centre is encouraging the feni industry to adopt global standards and streamline supply chains. Premium
The Centre is encouraging the feni industry to adopt global standards and streamline supply chains.

Goa’s famous feni, a cashew fruit-based alcoholic beverage, may soon find its way to the shelves of overseas liquor stores, with the Indian government encouraging the industry to adopt international standards and streamline supply chains.

The government is also working to formalize the production of mahua—another of India’s oldest indigenous liquors—made by fermenting flowers and found commonly in central India.

The standards pertain to bottling, packaging and processing, in line with international norms.

While cashew feni won geographical indication (GI) in 2009, that for mahua is in the pre-examination stage.

Securing GI—a distinctive sign used to identify a product whose quality, reputation or other characteristics related to its geographical origin—will help give it a distinct identity in the overseas markets. The GI tag ensures that no one other than those registered as authorized producers can use the popular product name.

Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), the nodal agri-export promotion body, is working with the Indian alcoholic beverage associations to discuss challenges and how to encourage exports of India’s indigenous liquor.

“We are focusing on the identified GI products that have the potential and the established supply chain. We are now promoting them. It is also the case for indigenous liquor, like feni. These will be promoted as a premium segment, which is unique to India, where there is an established supply chain, and there are volumes," said Tarun Bajaj, director of APEDA.

This comes at a time India is negotiating a relaxation of the three-year maturity norms to facilitate better access to Indian whisky in the UK and Australia.

“Government bodies like APEDA are working on ways to spot export opportunities for indigenous products. Products such as feni and mahua are being looked into. Indian craft gin and Indian single malt have export potential as they carry the Indian provenance… the problem is that many manufacturers operate on a small scale. If we wish to have true export potential to the developed world, we need to bring standards and make the products more uniform," said Vinod Giri, director general of the Confederation of Indian Alcoholic Beverage Companies. Giri added that small manufacturers must prepare a road map and look into where the government can come in and where investment is needed.

India’s craft gin is being shipped already, with about 15,000 cases exported to the UK this year, Giri said.

“The one where we need support is for feni from Goa. The second promising product is mahua. Mahua grows in tribal areas such as Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, and Madhya Pradesh, and liquor is brewed from that, he said.

A Goan government report, titled ‘Roadmap for Feni’, recommended granting GI for coconut feni.

Queries emailed to the spokesperson for the ministry of commerce and industry remained unanswered till press time.

India exported 247,000 tonnes of alcoholic products, worth $322.12 million (approximately 2,507 crore), during 2020-21, and the major export destinations of Indian alcoholic products include the United Arab Emirates, Ghana, Singapore, Congo and Cameroon.

Giri added that during the discussion with APEDA, the association highlighted the need for better quality, standardization and certification to make the products good enough for export.

“Then, we need to see how we get the producers to start scaling up now. That may happen either through investment support from the government. Or more likely and easier is by getting the organized sector more involved in this," said Giri.

“We shouldn’t export sub-standard products and ruin the reputation of Indian products," he added.

According to the government, demand for India’s products such as beer made from malt, wine, white wine, brandy, whisky, rum and gin has increased manifold in the global market.

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Published: 27 Feb 2023, 12:09 AM IST
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