“Common sense” decision: Kreol Travel Retail CEO A S Lal said the FSSAI regulation wasn’t required in travel retail

INDIA. Food and beverages sold at duty free shops in India will no longer be regulated by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) according to reports in local Indian media, meaning the industry may soon be excluded from domestic rules.

A number of duty free companies had filed cases in Indian courts stating that government regulator FSSAI should not have the authority to control travel retail sales. They had argued that international airports should be seen as free zones and domestic rules weren’t appropriate – a position supported by the Asia Pacific Travel Retail Association.

FSSAI had previously argued in court that it did have authority to regulate what was sold in duty free shops, but the agency has now taken an internal decision to stop regulating the industry entirely.

Around 85% of the food and beverage products on offer in Indian duty free had been subject to FSSAI regulation, with retailers frustrated by the suspension of sale of certain items and shipments being held up at ports. They argued that the uncertainty created was driving customers to purchase items in departure duty free shops rather than wait to buy them on arrival in India, with a resultant financial impact.

Kreol Travel Retail CEO A S Lal welcomed the FSSAI’s reported decision. The company distributes a number of food and beverage brands in India and the GCC countries and has a joint venture with Dufry for duty free operations at Cochin International Airport.

“When this becomes official, it will be a sensible decision because we were all burdened by the previous rules which, frankly, weren’t really required for the travel retail sector,” he said.

“Common sense dictates that no operator will sell food products which are harmful to consumers. Passengers already carry food products for personal consumption or for gifting to family and friends which, realistically, cannot be subject to testing at airports.

“Similarly, imposing domestic consumption rules on food products sold through travel retail outlets is restrictive and unnecessary as these products are not for public distribution in the domestic markets.”