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India Food & Beverage News

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Introduction: With the overwhelming successes of the Green and White Revolutions, India is now fervently poised for the Food Revolution that will ensure agricultural diversification and large investments in food processing. The entry of multinationals, aggressive rise of commodity branding and low cost of technology are changing the economics of the Indian food industry. The rise of aggressive regional players making forays into categories where entry barriers are low and a boom in Indian FMCG markets and the rising need for these products are the key reasons for this growth in food business.

Indian agriculture is in the throes of a paradigm shift, thanks to the structural changes in the Indian economy. With the country achieving self-sufficiency in grains production, emphasis has changed from subsistence farming to commercialization, opening up vast opportunities for value-addition, packaging and exports, with a strikingly high level of technological involvement.

The holistic concept of food security, however, has two dimensions – availability of food and access to food. While the former has been achieved, the same is not the case with the latter. Despite bumper crops, distribution of food grains continues to be faulty – almost 30% of the food produced in the country is wasted. In such a scenario, it is important for us to reorient our historical agricultural policy framework – from managing shortages to promoting efficiencies and value addition. Moreover, there is a need to increase the range of foods available to improve overall nutrition. The benefits in terms of health, vitality and productivity are obvious, and cannot be underestimated.

F&B News, India’s first newspaper in this sector, provides a comprehensive view of the food and beverage industry The Indian food market is approximately Rs 2,50,000 crore ($69.4 billion), of which value-added food products comprise Rs 80,000 crore ($22.2 billion). Despite food production in the country is expected to double by the year 2020, not much attention has been given to the growth of this vital industry, with no standard publication highlighting the importance of this sector. F&B News aims to cover news, events, research, innovations, new products & processes, marketing and so on (both national and international), which will broadly cover around 75 key areas in the food, beverage and its allied segments. These include food processing, bakery, confectionery, dairy, meat & poultry, fruits & vegetables, fisheries (including aquaculture), food ingredients, grocery retail, packaging, alcoholic beverages, soft drinks and bottled drinking water, canning, fats and oils, filters and filtering materials, flavours and flavour enhancers, nutrient additives, frozen food/refrigeration and thermo processing, among others.

With food production expected to double by 2020, large investments are already going into food and food processing technologies, skills and equipment. Given the changing industry dynamics, it is paramount for F&B News to highlight news, issues and events in the sector, some of which are briefly discussed below.

The food processing industry is witnessing a 20% annual growth rate and, consequently, the demand for processed foods and beverages in the country is constantly on the rise. There are 300 million upper-and-middle-class consumers of processed and packaged food in the country, and another 200 million are expected to shift by 2010. In the scenario, the food processing industry has been accorded priority status by the new government with Subodh Kant Sahai holding independent charge of the Ministry of Food Processing Industries.
Processed foods are primarily derived from agricultural commodities, which often incur multiple taxes at various stages. This multiple taxation has a cascading effect on prices. Moreover, there is a wide variation in the level of taxes across states, which creates a barrier to the free flow of materials from the farm to the factory and ultimately to the consumers.
Post-Green Revolution, it is essential that agricultural research reoriented to address new challenges. As the existing crop seeds have reached yield saturation, there is an urgent need to evolve transgenic varieties through the application of biotechnology, RNA use, and molecular biology. These varieties should have high yield, short maturity, pest and disease resistance, stress tolerance, and wider adaptability.

With the help of indigenous breeds improvement programme, nutritional research and improved cost-effective vaccine programmes, India has achieved the distinction of being the highest milk producing country in the world. Similarly, with processes in place to improve quality of marine products for internal and export markets, India is the seventh largest producer of fish in the world and is ranked second in inland fish production.
Special foods are available for every patient today, be it hypertension, diabetes, obesity, or even weight reduction. For instance, diet food and nutraceuticals are the latest fad. The market for sugar-free confectionery and snack products is growing steadily. Motivated by a desire for maximum indulgence coupled with a wish for calorie control and health benefits, consumers are increasingly choosing sugar-free and sugar-reduced products.
Packaging of food products has become important in order to ensure safety and hygiene and to eliminate the possibility of adulteration. In some cases, more than 50% of the price of a product goes towards packaging. Good packaging will greatly catalyze the development of a food-processing sector. However, packaging industry is yet to achieve international standards in the country.
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