Goods and Services Tax (GST)

GST on processed food items


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: GST slabs on food items

Mains level: Not Much

A recent GST ruling sparked off the debate with the Authority for Advance Rulings (AAR, Karnataka Bench) suggesting parottas would be subject to a higher GST rate of 18 per cent as compared to roti.

Try this question from CSP 2018:

Q. Consider the following items:

  1. Cereal grains hulled
  2. Chicken eggs cooked
  3. Fish processed and canned
  4. Newspapers containing advertising material

Which of the above items is/are exempt under GST (Goods and Services Tax)?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1, 2 and 4 only

(d) 1, 2, 3 and 4

What is the Case?

  • Bengaluru-based food products company involved in preparation and supply of ready-to-cook items had approached the AAR regarding whether preparation of whole wheat parotta and Malabar parotta attracting 5 per cent GST.
  • The products khakhra, plain chapatti and roti are completely cooked preparations, do not require any processing for human consumption and hence are ready to eat food preparations.
  • The impugned product (whole wheat Parottas and Malabar Parottas) are not only different from the said khakhras, plain chapatti or roti but also are not like products in common parlance as well as in the respect of essential nature of the product.

Classification of food items for GST

  • Most food items, especially those of essential and unprocessed nature, are charged nil GST.
  • But processed foods attract higher rates of 5%, 12%, or 18% depending on the food product.
  • For instance, pappad, Bread (branded or otherwise), are charged zero GST, but pizza bread is charged 5% GST.
  • Heading 1905 under the Harmonised Commodity Description and Coding System classifies pizza bread, khakhra, plain chapati or roti, rusks, toasted bread in one category, for which a 5% GST rate is levied.
  • Similarly, in the ready for consumption category, unbranded namkeens, bhujia, mixture and similar edible preparation attract 5% GST, while such branded namkeen, bhujia, mixture attract 12% GST.

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