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Cargill invests in India’s food-processing boom

Reuters — Cargill, the U.S. agribusiness giant, is investing in India’s burgeoning processed food sector with a $73-million corn-milling unit, the head of its India operation said.

India’s 1.2 billion population is eating increasing amounts of packaged and processed foods, using the financial benefits of an economy growing at nearly six per cent to try western staples from McDonald’s to Knorr packet soups.

“We aim to start a corn-milling unit with a daily 800 to 1,000 tonnes processing capacity by 2014,” Siraj Chaudhry, chairman of Cargill India, told reporters Dec. 18.

The company, a bellwether of world commodity markets, is acquiring land at Davangere in Karnataka, the top corn-producing state in India, Asia’s second-largest grower of the grain behind China.

India harvested 21.6 million tonnes in the year to June 30, 2012, just short of the record 21.7 million tonnes in the previous year. Domestic consumption runs at 17 million to 18 million tonnes a year.

Cargill also aims to increase its existing cooking oil refining capacities in the three plants that it runs in the world’s top importer of vegetable oils.

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