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McDonald's India's Cold Chain

Spreading The Spirit Of Enterprise All Over India

A unique sense of dedication and commitment characterizes McDonald's India - a commitment to be driven by the leadership of local owners. Commitment to provide quality products and fast friendly service at a real value to support other Indian businesses through local sourcing and imparting new skills and to generate local employment by being a part of the local culture. This commitment has translated into enduring benefits to the businesses at the grass root level, in the areas of introduction of new crops, new agricultural practices and food processing methods and procedures.

McDonald's unique 'cold chain', on which the QSR major has spent more than six years setting up in India, has brought about a veritable revolution, immensely benefiting the farmers at one end and enabling customers at retail counters get the highest quality food products, absolutely fresh and at great value.

Explaining the concept, Mr. Amit Jatia, Joint Venture Partner & Managing Director, McDonald's - Western India, said, "Every year, Rs. 50,000 crore worth of food produce is wasted in India because of lack of proper infrastructure for storage and transportation under controlled conditions. These range from physical damage and vermin infestation to improper temperature, humidity and air-flow."

"McDonald's, through its unique cold chain, has been able to both cut down on its operational wastage, as well as maintain the freshness and nutritional value of raw and processed food products. This has involved procurement, warehousing, transportation and retailing of perishable food products, all under controlled temperatures."

Setting up this extensive cold chain distribution system has involved the transfer of state-of-the-art food processing technology by McDonald's and its international suppliers to pioneering Indian enterprises who, today, are an integral part of the McDonald's cold chain.

From Field To 2°C In 90 Minutes

Trikaya Agriculture, a major supplier of iceberg lettuce to McDonald's India, is one such enterprise that is an intrinsic part of the cold chain. Exposure to better agricultural management practices and sharing of advanced agricultural technology by McDonald's has made Trikaya Agriculture extremely conscious of delivering its products with utmost care and quality.

Initially lettuce could only be grown during the winter months but with McDonald's expertise in the area of agriculture, Trikaya Farms in Talegaon, Maharashtra, is now able to grow this crop all the year round.

McDonald's has provided assistance in the selection of high quality seeds, exposed the farms to advanced drip-irrigation technology, and helped develop a refrigerated transportation system allowing a small agri-business in Maharashtra to provide fresh, high-quality lettuce to McDonald's urban restaurant locations thousands of kilometers away.

Post harvest facilities at Trikaya include a cold chain consisting of a pre-cooling room to remove field heat, a large cold room and a refrigerated van for transportation where the temperature and the relative humidity of the crop is maintained between 1°C and 4°C and 95% respectively. Vegetables are moved into the pre-cooling room within half an hour of harvesting. The pre-cooling room ensures rapid vacuum cooling to 2°C within 90 minutes. The pack house, pre-cooling and cold room are located at the farms itself, ensuring no delay between harvesting, pre-cooling, packaging and cold storage.

With this cold chain infrastructure in place, Trikaya Agriculture has also a plan to export this high value product to other international markets, especially to McDonald's Middle East and Asia Pacific operations. McDonald's expertise in packaging, handling and long-distance transportation has helped Trikaya to do trial shipments to the Gulf successfully.

In addition to export, McDonald's assistance has enabled Trikaya Agriculture to supply this crop to a number of star-rated hotels, clubs, flight kitchens and offshore catering companies all over India.

Flavour And Freshness Locked In At - 35°C

Vista Processed Foods Pvt. Ltd., McDonald's suppliers for the chicken and vegetable range of products, is another important player in this cold chain. Technical and financial support extended by OSI Industries Inc., USA and McDonald's India Private Limited have enabled Vista to set up world-class infrastructure and support services.

This includes hi-tech refrigeration plants for manufacture of frozen food at temperatures as low as - 35°C. This is vital to ensure that the frozen food retains it freshness for a long time and the 'cold chain' is maintained. The frozen product is immediately moved to cold storage rooms.

With continued assistance from its international partners, Vista has installed hi-tech equipment for both the chicken and vegetable processing lines, which reflect the latest food processing technology (de-boning, blending, forming, coating, frying and freezing). For the vegetable range, the latest vegetable mixers and blenders are in operation. Also, keeping cultural sensitivities in mind, both processing lines are absolutely segregated and utmost care is taken to ensure that the vegetable products do not mix with the non-vegetarian products.

Vista now offers a very wide range of frozen and nutritious chicken and vegetable products. Ongoing R&D, both locally and in the parent company, work towards innovation in taste, nutritional value and convenience. These products, besides being supplied to McDonald's, are also offered to institutions like star-rated hotels, hospitals, project sites, caterers, corporate canteens, schools and colleges, restaurants, food service establishments and coffee shops. Today, production of better quality frozen foods that are both nutritious and fresh has made Vista Processed Foods Pvt. Ltd. a name to reckon within the industry.