Tuesday, February 13, 2018

India with Class 9: US Embassy and grocery stores

Class IX started day three with an early morning flight from Mumbai to New Delhi that took half of the day.

Early morning at the Mumbai Airport

When arriving in New Delhi our first stop was at the American Embassy and had a meeting with representatives with USDA. First up was Andrew Edlefsen with the Foreign Commercial Service (FCS). The main goal of the FCS is to help American businesses expand into India. India is the 9th largest trade partner with the United States and import the most amount of goods from the US. The FCS’s primary focus is in seven areas including energy (mostly renewable), infrastructure, education, tourism, defense and aviation, healthcare and agribusiness.  

Meeting at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi
Our next speaker at the Foreign Ag Service was Mark Wallace with USDA in the foreign ag service. He told us, “Everything you’ve heard about India is true, but also not true.”  For example we learned that India is home to the three richest men in the world, and yet 70% of the population lives on less than $2 per day.  The Foreign Ag Service primary focus is trade, with the three pillars being market access, market development, and market intelligence. They work with locals to get an overview of agriculture in different regions in India, through crop reporting and market activity. India is the largest producer in the world of canola, peanuts (groundnuts), milk, cashews, coconuts, and tea.  And, the second largest producer of sugar, rice, wheat, and cotton.

After leaving the Embassy we traveled to a grocery store. The grocery store was very similar to grocery stores in the United States. There were a variety of prepackaged foods, spices, bulk lentils and rice, along with a small meat section. Many people in India are vegetarian.

Visiting a modern shopping mall in New Delhi
Due to the Muslim and Hindu faiths, the meats commonly eaten are lamb, goat, chicken, and fish.  There are a variety of chicken products including chicken lunch meat and sausage substitutes. The grocery store also included a large section of fruits and vegetables, with a larger variety of fresh foods than we see in the United States. There were many fruits and vegetables that we could not identify. Some of the fruit was imported U.S., for example we saw Washington Apples. We also learned that many people don’t like to buy refrigerated meats, they prefer to buy fresh.  And, while this was a modern grocery store, the majority of Indian consumers still purchase their items primarily from street market type vendors.

Fresh produce is readily available, like these Washington Apples.
Our tour guide Raj translated and explained many of the eating habits and grocery store details to us.  In the foreground are bulk bins of dry lentils and various beans which are a staple of the diet.

Rice of various  varieties and  other dry grains are available at the grocery store in these bulk bins.
Today was interesting learning about international policy and how 20% percent of the population purchases its food from a grocery store verses a local or farmer direct market.

This blog post was written by Rebecca Christman and Lee Sanderson.