About 100 odd distilleries in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and other States producing ethanol have shut operations or are in the process since the supply of subsidised rice from the Food Corporation of India (FCI) has stopped since July 1, 2023. Distillers and associations such as the All India Distillers Association (AIDA) have approached the government to resolve the crisis immediately since it is resulting in distilleries sitting idle on their capacities.
On July 20th, the Government of India further amended the export policy, prohibiting with immediate effect the export of non-basmati white rice. This step was taken in order to ensure adequate availability of non-basmati White Rice for the Indian market and to allay the rise in prices in the domestic market. While this will help stabilise the price of the rixe in the local markets, this decisions have created somewhat of a crisis in the ethanol production and the set targets by the government are not going to be achievable.
The President of AIDA, V.N.Raina told Ambrosia that the Association had approached the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution and also the Ministry of Petroleum, to avert further damage to the industry, by resuming supply of subsidized rice from FCI. The decision of the government he said had resulted in “stopping of grain ethanol industry and no production of ethanol is being carried out. We have apprised them of this issue as availability of damaged grains is almost minimum in the market, the FCI surplus rice must therefore be issued according to the allotments to distilleries immediately to enable the industry meet the goal of reaching 12% ethanol blending by the end of Oct-2023.”
Disrupts entire ethanol programme
Mr. Raina added that the distillery industry has been left without any FCI rice which is the sole feedstock available to the grain-based distilleries. “The stoppage has completely disrupted the entire ethanol programme and distilleries are left with no alternative but to stop production. This is very serious stoppage which must be rectified immediately,” he added.
Asked whether these distilleries could manage with supply of other grains, Mr. Raina said “Although the industry has choice of other grains like damaged rice and maize, but these are not available in sufficient quantity in the market and also the price of ethanol fixed by the govt. against supplies of these grains are unviable for the industry. We have been requesting the govt. to revise the prices to enable distilleries use this alternative also, although the available quantity will not be sufficient to meet the entire requirement for blending target without surplus rice from FCI. As far as sugarcane is concerned, there is nothing against supplies of sugar and sugarcane although this is the off -season period the total entire goal of blending cannot be fulfilled by sugar industry ethanol from grains is vital to fulfill nearly 50% of the total requirement of ethanol for achieving 20% blending by the year 2025-2026.”
As per data made available by FCI, in June 2,77,419.98 metric tonnes of subsidized rice was supplied to distilleries for ethanol production, a 216 per cent increase from 2022 June. In May it was 2.95 lakh metric tonnes.
Government admits shortfall in foodgrains productionThe Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti recently informed Lok Sabha that “Considering expected deficiency in rainfall caused by El Nino as speculated by the India Meteorological Department due to which Kharif crop production in the country may be affected…. In order to control inflationary trends and to maintain adequate stock levels under central pool for distribution under National Food Security Act and other welfare schemes for the benefit [of people], sale of wheat and rice under Open Market Sale Scheme (Domestic) for state governments, including Tamil Nadu, has been discontinued with effect from 13.06.2023.”
She further said that “State governments of Karnataka, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu have requested for wheat and rice under OMSS(D) Policy which was not acceded to due to discontinuation of sale of wheat and rice to states under OMSS(D) 2023.”Due to this the supply to distilleries has got affected. However, she mentioned that in 2022-21, subsidized rice supplied for ethanol was 49,000 MT, which increased to 10.68 lakh MT in 2021-22 and 13.05 lakh MT in 2022-23, up to July 10. Of 24 lakh MT supplied to distilleries for making ethanol so far, the maximum — 1.67 lakh MT — has been bought by Chandigarh Distillers & Bottlers Ltd, is followed by Bihar Distilleries and Bottlers Pvt Ltd (1.57 lakh MT), and BCL Industries Ltd (0.13 lakh MT). The government is expected to provide 32 lakh MT rice for ethanol during 2022-23 and with this disruption, it remains to be seen how the government will fulfil that obligation.
The price of rice supplied for ethanol is much lower compared to the economic cost incurred by FCI on procurement and storage operations: these were Rs 3,939.26 per quintal in 2020-21; Rs 3,562.49 in 2021-22; Rs 3,858.19 in 2022-23 (revised estimates); and Rs 3,918.05 per quintal in 2023-24 (BE).
Retail prices going up
The Government, in a statement, has admitted that domestic prices of rice are increasing and that retail prices have increased by 11.5% over a year and 3% over the past month. Export duty of 20% on non-basmati white rice was imposed on 08.09.2022 to lower the price as well ensure availability in the domestic market. However, the export of this variety increased from 33.66 LMT (Sept-March 2021-22) to 42.12 LMT (Sept-March 2022-23) even after imposition of 20% export duty. In the current FY 2023-24 (April-June), about 15.54 LMT of this variety of rice was exported against only 11.55 LMT during FY 2022-23 (April-June), i.e. an increase by 35%. This sharp increase in exports can be ascribed to high international prices due to geo-political scenario, El Nino sentiments and extreme climatic conditions in other rice producing countries, etc.
Non-Basmati White Rice constitutes about 25% of total rice exported from the country. The prohibition on export of Non-Basmati White Rice will lead to lowering of prices for the consumers in the country, the government has stated.
Uttar Pradesh better known as the ‘Granary of the Nation’ is the largest sugarcane and wheat producer and the second largest rice producer in the country. In its bid to become one of the top states every which way, the Yogi Adityanath led BJP government has set itself a target of becoming a one trillion economy by 2027, for which it is laying out the red carpet for different industries, infrastructure project development, agri-produce and more. One of the verticals which is doing well is the alcohol production sector and here the Secretary General of the Uttar Pradesh Distillers Association, Rajneesh Agarwal talks about the efforts being made by the industry, the association and the state government in pushing the envelope further.
Tell us how Uttar Pradesh is a land of limitless opportunities?
Rajneesh Agarwal (Agarwal): Uttar Pradesh is indeed a land of limitless opportunities in the distillery/alcohol sector due to several reasons. Firstly, UP is the largest producer of sugarcane in India, which is a primary raw material for alcohol production, making the State an attractive destination for investment in the alcohol industry.
Secondly, the state has a diverse agricultural base that includes grains such as maize, wheat, and barley, which can be used as alternative raw materials for alcohol production and the government is encouraging the same, thus increasing the capacity of distilleries and reducing their reliance on traditional raw materials like sugarcane and molasses.
Thirdly, with a population of over 240 million people, UP has a large and growing consumer market for alcohol. Also with rising incomes and changing consumer preferences, the demand for premium quality alcohol and varieties of alcohol is increasing, supplemented with streamlined licencing process.
Finally, UP has a well-developed transportation network, with several major highways and railway lines passing through the state. This makes it easier for distilleries to transport their products to customers across the country and the world.
What has been a game-changer for the distillery sector in UP?
Agarwal: There are many factors – Expansion of Alcohol production; Ease of doing business; Robust government policies; and growing consumer base.
a. Expansion of alcohol production: In 2018, the UP government announced the new excise policy that allowed the production of ethanol from alternative feedstocks, such as maize, barley, and wheat. This decision supplemented with streamlining of licensing system and restoration of working hours from sunrise to sunset were all game-changers, opening up new opportunities for distilleries to diversify their raw material base and expand their production capacity.
In 2017-18 there were 60 distilleries in UP with total installed capacity of 161 Cr. litres of alcohol production, which in 2022-23 jumped to 85 distilleries with 346 Cr litres of alcohol production, a growth of 115% in a span of five years. While 20 grain distilleries have established in just last one year, 20 more distilleries are in the pipeline which will produce another 80 Cr. litres of alcohol.
The decision to allow the production of ethanol from alternative feedstocks was a significant shift from the state’s traditional focus on sugarcane and molasses as the primary raw materials for alcohol production. This has helped to reduce the reliance of distilleries on these traditional feedstocks and create new business opportunities for farmers and other stakeholders in the supply chain.
The policy has also helped to boost the state’s ethanol production capacity, which has significant implications for the biofuel sector. Ethanol produced from alternative feedstocks can be used as a fuel additive to reduce emissions in the transport sector, which is a key focus area for the Indian government’s energy policy.
b. Ease of doing business
The excise policies in recent years has a significant positive impact on the distillery sector in UP. It has made it easier for distilleries to obtain licenses and permits, reducing bureaucratic hurdles and increasing the ease of doing business in the state. The reduction in taxes on liquor has also made alcohol more affordable for consumers, leading to an increase in demand for alcohol in the state.
Additionally, the policy has encouraged investment in the alcohol industry in Uttar Pradesh, leading to the establishment of new distilleries and expansion of existing ones. This has helped to increase the capacity of the distillery sector in the state and generate employment opportunities for local residents.
c. Robust government policies
There have been robust and encouraging government policies from 2017 onwards. In potable liquor segment itself specific to Country Liquor (mammoth volumes with significant revenue to the state exchequer) the distillery sector volumes have grown 2.3x or at a compounded annual growth rate of 18%.
The total Excise Duty collection increased from ₹17000 Cr. in 2017-18 to ₹41000 Cr. in 2022-23. To sustain this industry growth, an investment of approx. ₹10,000 Cr. has been made by distilleries including an investment of around ₹3000 Cr. for setting up grain alcohol plants.
UP has been primarily producing over 200 Cr. litres of alcohol from molasses and there has been a paradigm shift of producing alcohol from grain too. Over 20 grain distilleries have been established in this short span which are producing around 62 Cr. litres of grain alcohol. Overall, as on date UP has over 85 molasses and grain distilleries producing nearly 350 Cr. liters of alcohol making a massive growth of 150% in less than two years.
UP has been a major contributor in the country’s ambitious ‘Ethanol Blending Programme’ having achieved highest blending of 11.89% with the national average of 11.56% as in March’23.
Tell us about the investments that are coming in this sector?
Agarwal: UP’s alcohol sector is all set to get a shot in the arm with investments worth ₹16,392 crores. According to the state’s excise department, ahead of the Global Investors summit, the department signed 17 MoUs for setting up industries based on distillery, brewing and alcohol products. Along with this, letters of intent have been given for investments worth ₹1400 crore. These include distilleries, breweries, microbrewery, yeast units, malt manufacturing units and caramel manufacturing units.
What efforts are being made to meet the demand for 20% EBP and potable alcohol industry?
Agarwal: To meet the target of 20% EBP by 2025 it is estimated that 1150 – 1200 crore litres of alcohol would be required for ethanol purposes. In present context of having achieved over 11.5% blending, the sugar / molasses capacities for alcohol production are nearing saturation. Moving forward, grain would be the primary source to meet the 20% EBP programme.
In UP over 20 grain distilleries have come up in a short span, with 13 more grain distilleries expected by 2024. Overall UP is expected to have over 20 new distilleries (Grain + Molasses) in the next one year.
However, the Ethanol producers within the State and pan India are presently facing operational challenges due to severe shortage and availability of broken rice and damaged food grains (DFG) at the prevailing prices of the government. Ethanol producers are jointly seeking an SOS upward price revision with the Central Government for both broken rice and DFG to put Ethanol producers back on momentum.
What kind of investments have been made to increase grain capacity for potable liquor in UP, a state which has seen industry volumes grow by 2.6 times and expected to double in the next five years?
Agarwal: To sustain this industry growth, an investment of approx. ₹10,000 Cr. has been made by distilleries including an investment of around ₹3000 Cr. in setting up grain alcohol plants in UP. With 13 more grain plants itself expected by 2024 will have an additional Investment of more than ₹1200 Cr.
The state government has approved establishment of distilleries based on molasses, grains, potatoes etc. Could you let us know if the UP distillers have taken that route?
Agarwal: Traditionally, many distilleries in Uttar Pradesh have been based on molasses, as the state is one of the largest producers of sugarcane in India. However, in recent years, there has been a growing trend towards using alternative raw materials such as grains, potatoes, and other vegetables, which can provide a more diverse and sustainable supply of raw materials for the industry. Some distilleries in UP have already taken this route and started using grains like maize, barley, and wheat to produce alcohol. For example, in 2019, a distillery in the state started using maize as a raw material for alcohol production. Similarly, there are distilleries in UP that are using potatoes to produce alcohol, taking advantage of the state’s large potato production. The government is launching numerous schemes and incentives to develop agro-processing industries in UP.
The UP government has allowed production of Absolute Alcohol of Pharma grade, could you give us an update on the same?
Agarwal: The production of pharma-grade absolute alcohol in UP is expected to substitute imports and reduce the country’s dependence on imported alcohol. The state government has allocated land to set up a pharma-grade alcohol plant and several companies have expressed interest in setting up such plants.
The UP government in April’22 has given permission to commence production of Absolute Alcohol of Pharma grade from Cane crushing season of 2022-23. This has paved way for self-reliance on Absolute Alcohol of Pharma grade which till now is dependent on imports from countries like USA, Australia, China etc. The State has envisioned production capacity of 25 lac litres from the total requirement of nearly 50 lac litres currently, saving revenue of around ₹10 cr. in import substitution.
What are the challenges for distillers in UP, regulatory or otherwise, and how can the government resolve it?
Agarwal: Today, UP is proud to hold its head high for turning the major challenges into opportunities. The rapid expansion and overall growth in past years is quite evident of this fact. However, the government continues to make radical reforms in the policies in ease of doing business, simplified regulatory environment, rationalising taxes & duties, expansion of infrastructure development with better road & rail connectivity etc. The ground water being the main source of irrigation, the State’s Environmental Board is taking various measures to avoid over exploitation of ground water.
Tell us about the role of UPDA in promoting the sector?
Agarwal: The UP Distillers Association (UPDA) is an apex body of distillery industry with nearly 90 distilleries. The Association is a 40-year-old body, actively rendering services as interface between its members and both State & Central Government authorities primarily through its advocacy role for policy makers and resolving issues of the industry.
To tap the limitless opportunities, UPDA is fast spreading its wings in international arena to explore and adopt best practices and technologies across the world. In recent years, under the close guidance of UPDA President – Mr. S.K. Shukla and Vice-President – Mr. Manish Agarwal, the association has ensured industry benefits.
The UPDA conducted its first International Summit in Aug’22 with six countries participating. The second UPDA International Summit will be held in July 2023, showcasing global innovation technologies with USA, Brazil, Israel and many more countries, besides home grown technologies.
This was followed by a visit to Brazil a delegation jointly organised by the All India Distillery Delegation and the UPDA, with the objective to explore synergy and business avenues of mutual interest between Indian and Brazilian distilleries and technology providers. Brazil has achieved 27% blending in 2G ethanol.
UPDA-AIDA are planning their next distillery delegation visit to USA under an exchange programme which will explore:
1) Corn supply chain model comparison between, India and Brazil & India and USA.
2) Corn cultivation and corn grains productivity enhancement in India, GM corn cultivation in India, testing of new corn cultivators from USA, and developing a holistic model for the corn growing farmers and industry.
3) Ethanol production technology transfer from corn grains and from corn biomass (cobs and leaves-corn stover).
4) DDGS (Dry Distillers Grains Soluble) valorization, Proteins recovery from DDGS and purification, Oils recovery from DDGS and its profiling, Develop of DDGS based holistic nutritive and palatable feed for cattle and poultry.
UPDA is in process of collaboration with ‘Invest India’ wherein UPDA will interface and support bringing investments & technologies, with initial focus in bio-fuels sector and grain based distilleries.
Will UP become the distilleries hub, if so, by when and what are you betting on? How many distilleries are there in UP and how many of them are your members?
Agarwal: Out of the around 520 distilleries in India, UP itself has nearly 90 distilleries with nearly 33 more distilleries coming up in 2024. These numbers show that UP is already a distinctive hub.
UP Distillers Association’s a prime focus all along has been on potable distilleries and now fast catching up with the industry at large on grain and ethanol producing distilleries. Presently, UPDA has 16 members on board which produce over 90% of the potable Country liquor requirement of the State. UPDA takes pride in having on-board Patron members such as Radico Khaitan Ltd., India Glycols Ltd., Wave Group, Sir Shadi Lal Industries and Superior Industries. Country Liquor sales of over 9 Crores cases per annum contributing significantly to the overall excise revenue of over ₹41k Crores with target of ₹45k Crores in 2023-24.
After the Prime Minister’s call to blend 20% of blending of petroleum with ethanol from 2030 there is an urgent rush to ramp up the capacity and increase the type of feedstock required to boost production to meet the required amount of ethanol needed to blend up to 20% of ethanol. In an interview with Ambrosia V. Raina, Director General, AIDA outlines the roadmap to achieve this along with the newer distilleries planned in the next few years.
What is the current production capacity of ethanol in India?
The total ethanol production capacity is 473 crore litres that includes grain-based ethanol, molasses based and others sources. Alcohol production capacity out of molasses is 693 crore litres whereas grain based capacity is 258 crore litres. This production capacity is expected to increase further with nearly 15-20 new distilleries coming in the next few years with the help of the Indian Government. In order to boost the growth the govt. has provided financial assistance on interest subvention.
Can you tell us more on the new Distilleries that are upcoming in the next few years?
The new distilleries are grain based only with 15-20 new ones coming into the market and approximately 25-30 existing distilleries expanding their capacities. Also with the change in the guidelines you can now put up a new distillery with more ease. Earlier it would take longer time to get permissions and clearances. But now the Government has allowed all permissions, all guarantees up to the capacity of 200 KLPD for grain based and 100 KLPD for molasses based can be given by the State Governments. Since ethanol and high alcohol (above 95%) comes under the purview of the Central Government putting up an ethanol distillery doesn’t have any challenges unless liquor is produced.
Where are the new distilleries now being focussed in UP and Maharashtra or elsewhere also?
There is no grain distillery in the state of UP. Primarily it is in Punjab but now they are coming up. The grain is there. Other distilleries are resisting. UP will come over, Bihar will come over new one. Even Odisha has a new distillery.
Beside grain what other sources are being experimented on?
Apart from grain Maize and Rice are being experimented upon since these are considered as damaged food grains which are not edible for human beings. However, these are currently in short supply. We have introduced good rice also because you have to purchase it from Food Corporation of India (FCI). The basis of these purchases are on rates that are already determined/fixed based on the feedstock. For instance the rates are fixed at Rs. 20 per kg. or Rs. 2000 per quintal by the Food Corporation of India (FCI). If you purchase it from sugar cane juice the rate is Rs.62.65 per litre of ethanol. If it is molasses because sugar supply is in surplus it is Rs. 57.61. The rates for General Molasses is Rs.45.69 whereas damaged food grain that includes rice, maize, jowar, bajra etc are priced at Rs.51.55.
What are the benefits of manufacturing Ethanol?
The benefits of manufacturing ethanol is that there is no limit to the supply. The more you can supply the better it is. For instance if you can supply 1000 litres or 1 crore litres the government welcomes that. The rates are fixed for purchase by petroleum companies, which includes – Bharat Petroleum, Hindustan Petroleum and Indian Oil. Also your payments are assured to be given in 15 days, which has reduced from the earlier timeline of 30 days.
Will this short supply affect the liquor industry?
The ENA prices have also gone up with the availability at Rs.50-52 per litre from where you produce alcohol. The prices have already increased by more than 5%. ENA is Extra Neutral Alcohol which is used for the production of better quality of alcohol and normally not used in the production of country liquor. The total requirement of alcohol by the year 2025 is 1350 crore litres. Out of these for liquor and other purposes we need about 334 crore litres. For liquor and industrial purposes like chemicals etc. and the balance 1016 crore litres will be for ethanol. Out of the total estimated requirement of 1016 crore litres the sugar industry will give 684 crore litres and ethanol from grain will be 666 crore litres by 2025.
What are the challenges that distilleries face for increasing the targeted alcohol production?
The biggest challenge is to achieve the target of 20% by 2025 since originally that plan was to achieve it by 2030 which was upped to 2025. The only downside is that if we achieve these numbers then there might be a shortage of feedstock.
How much of this target can be achieved realistically?
We can achieve about 75% – 80% of the target. There won’t be any short supply for liquor production because the governments are strict. Nowadays’ the government is not giving molasses which is under State Governments. The moment molasses is produced they will make a reservation and allot it for the country liquor. Even if there is shortage of total supply I don’t see any difficulty for the liquor production because the State Governments are taking care of that thing.
Neelakanta Rao Jagdale, Chairman & Managing Director of Amrut Distilleries, breathed his last this morning after a brief period of illness. Born in Bangalore, Neelakanta Rao R Jagdale was the second son of Late Radhakrishna Rao Jagdale, an illustrious industrialist of the State of Karnataka who was also the first President of the Karnataka Kshatriya Maratha Parishat. He was the Chairman and Managing Director of Amrut Distilleries Private Limited.
As a Second-Generation entrepreneur, post his graduation in Science, Jagdale had been at the helm of affairs of various divisions of the Jagdale Group, more particularly Amrut Distilleries Private Limited. With professional experience of about 38 years, Amrut recently entered global distinction when Amrut Fusion was rated as the third finest Malt Whisky of the World by Jim Murray in his Whisky Bible 2010. Amrut was one of the 1st Indian Single Malts to make it to the World Whiskies list and due to Mr. Jagdale’s enormous contribution, is known for its famous brand of single malt whisky, which is the first single malt whisky to be made in India.
He along with the senior members of Karnataka Kshatriya Maratha Parishath had a huge responsibility of carrying forward the mission of the Parishath founded in 1974 by his late father Sri Radhakrishna Jagdale. His mission was complete by 1992 when he served as the Chairman of the Governing Council of the Parishath and was instrumental in structuring the Parishath’s constitution and development.
Furthering his philanthropic sphere from community to a national cause, he took up the development of the sport of swimming in late 1980s and established the Basavanagudi Aquatic Center in 1987 which is now one of the leading swimming centers in the country and Asia with over 500 children taking part in the sport of swimming, contributing to the excellence of the sport at the State, National and International levels. Notable swimmers such as Nisha Millet and Rehan Poncha, who went on to represent India at the Olympics have emerged from the BAC aquatic center.