Tehran, Jan 10, IRNA-The national food industry is capable of meeting World Trade Organization (WTO) requirements for Iran's membership, said the head of Iran's Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Mines (ICCIM) in Tehran on Monday, a local daily quoted an Economic News Agency report on Tuesday.
The ICCIM head, Ali-Naqi Khamoushi, was quoted as further saying at a meeting of food industry managers and officials of the ministries of industries and mines and agricultural jihad that the country's food industries had a very strong potential for growth but that the slow pace of progress in the food processing industry was due to the eating habits of Iranians, an article in the English-language Iran Daily said.
"People tend more to eat traditional foods" rather than processed ones, Khamousi said as quoted in the article, and added that waste in the agricultural sector had risen to a staggering 30 percent.
"If we can reduce agricultural waste and increase our exports of processed foods, the industry can earn as much as $10 billion a year," he further said, and stressed that the most important advantage of the agriculture industry in the country is the abundance of organic fertilizers available for use rather than chemical ones.
The official said Iran needs to develop agricultural cooperation with Arab and African countries, the daily added.
"Bilateral and multilateral cooperation agreements will help facilitate Iran's WTO entry process." The food industry's exports are expected to reach $384 million in value in March 2006-2007, wrote Iran Daily.
Soft drinks, mineral water, biscuits and sweets valued at USD 142 million were exported during March-September 2005. The figure is expected to rise to $295 million by March, 2006 it added.
The daily wrote that fizzy drinks and biscuits were the top export items in terms of weight and value, respectively, during the above-stated period.
Food exports have declined in terms of weight but increased in terms of value.
According to the article, Iran exports foodstuff and drinks mainly to Germany, United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan, Britain, United States, Canada, Kuwait, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Australia, Azerbaijan, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Turkey and Italy.
The food and drinks industries accounted for 18.8 percent of total industrial investment in Iran in the previous Iranian year.
There are 11,053 food processing units across the country which provide jobs for over 276,000 people.
Some 85 million tons of agricultural goods are produced in Iran per annum. Fifty three percent of these are channeled to the processing industries, the article concluded.
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