India: Policy Highlights and Opportunities
India has grown to become a net food exporter, yet despite these agricultural expansions, 40% of all the food produced in India is wasted. At the same time, India continues to struggle with hunger—close to 40% of the Indian population is under-nourished, and studies still show that $14 billion is spent annually to grow, process, transport and dispose of food that is never eaten.
Atlas Research: India
India research was published in June 2020 and was made possible with the advice and support of our on-site partners, including Feeding India by Zomato.
Food Safety for Donations
Implemented in 2019, India’s Surplus Food Regulations set standards for leftover and unused portions of safe food that may be donated. The regulations help facilitate food donation by providing clarity that food donation is legal and encouraged.
The regulations apply to any person or food business that donates any surplus food, meaning any leftover unused portions of safe food that have not been sold and served to customers.
India has taken a step toward clarifying date labels by creating a standard date labeling scheme that distinguishes between a quality date and a safety date. Date labels for all packaged foods are standardized according to the requirements
set forth in the FSSAI’s Packaging and Labelling Regulations, which require labels with the date of manufacture or packing and a date label indicating when the food should be used by or discarded.
Policy Opportunities and Recommendations
Liability Protection for Food Donations
India does not currently offer any federal liability protection for food donors or food recovery organizations. Without such protections, food donors and intermediaries may refrain from food donation and recovery.
The federal government should adopt legislation that establishes clear liability protection for donated food that is in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations and is donated to non-profit organizations in good faith.
Tax Incentives and Barrier
In India, there are currently no tax incentives for the donation of food, nor are there specific tax barriers. However, there is confusion among donors regarding the Goods and Services Tax and its applicability to food that is donated and distributed for free.
In order to offset the costs businesses may incur when donating food, the federal government should offer tax incentives for food donations made to food recovery organizations.
Government Grants & Incentives
Federal or local grant and incentive programs can be an important resource for food donation initiatives, especially as an alternative or supplement to tax incentives.
The lack of infrastructure and capital frequently limits food recovery efforts and there are currently no federal grants or public funding mechanisms, nor has the government created any recognition programs.