Food ingredients growth fosters success of processing industry

Food ingredients growth fosters success of processing industry

Following the Covid-19 pandemic, the food components sector has gained major importance, encouraging healthy and nutritional immune boosting intake. These include saffron, tulsi, cardamom, hibiscus, amla, among others, which have gained popularity as beverages or infusions in ready-to-eat foods.

Globally and in India, processed food demand is expanding due to rapid urbanisation and rising disposable income, according to Ramesh Agarwal, CEO of Food Safety Works.

Trends in the field

In India, the fastest increasing categories include snacks, beverages, sauces, and pastes, which indirectly drive demand for flavours, preservatives, and sweeteners. “However, there is a particular interest in natural ingredients,” Agarwal noted.

But food chemicals are often misunderstood, especially now with the increased worry of carcinogenic behaviour. The clearance process for novel ingredients is lengthy. Despite these issues, consumers seem to assume that inadequate research has been done. Smaller FBOs (food business operators) using non-scientific ingredients promote panic, he claims.

Ingredients from plants

India has made good progress in the investigation of natural and plant-based compounds. The newer enterprises are looking at the global ingredient industry. According to the director of Food Safety Works at Food Safety Works, India has made good investments in plant-based proteins and aspires to be a leader in this industry.

Ajinomoto Co. Inc., Symrise Inc., Cargill, Kemin Industries Inc., Givaudan, CHR Hansen Inc., Tate & Lyle, ABFI and Lonza are among the biggest food ingredient players in India and globally.

Approved ingredients and additives

There are no limitations. Import requirements are the same as for any other food. This licence must include importer as a "type of business" and the correct food category. The Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additions) Regulations, 2011 also lists authorised ingredients and additives. “Importers must guarantee that their ingredients are listed. Or the corporation may need to get approvals before importing such ingredients,” he said.

PLI plan

Agarwal said the PLI (productivity linked incentive) system of the Union government is aimed at creating finished products, brands, and jobs, and that food ingredients do not truly fit the bill. However, increased production will assist raise overall sector demand, which should help this industry invest.

Food Safety Works, based in Bengaluru, with offices in Mumbai and New Delhi, helps FI firms understand food safety and regulatory elements of products to ensure product compliance. The company's competence extends to new ingredient research documentation and product approvals.

“We also help producers use these compounds correctly so they don't become a food hazard. According to Agarwal, productisation services assist FBOs embrace some of these elements.

Concerned about India's overall disease burden caused by lifestyle disorders, the People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR) teamed up with the Foundation for Sustainable Development India and Savitri Bai Phule Mahila Panchayat.

Prof. Vishwambhar Nath Mishra, mahant of Varanasi's Sankat Mochan Temple and head of the department of Electronic Engineering at IIT-BHU, stressed the urgent need to protect children from becoming obese and vulnerable to deadly diseases as they grow up. A surge in the consumption of junk or processed foods has been documented, with many containing dangerous components or salt and sugar levels exceeding the acceptable threshold. A simple, easy-to-read FOP label that cautions children and parents should be a priority.

Experts said India should set an example and join the rising number of countries that require food labelling and set WHO-mandated criteria for dangerous compounds. Front of pack labelling (FOPL) such as the ‘high-in salt/sugar or saturated fats' warning labels provide a quick impact on improving public health, reducing unhealthy food consumption, influencing customer preference, and motivating industries to reformulate.

A bad diet

With over 14 million obese or overweight children, Dr Sangeeta Kansal, community medicine head at IMS BHU, observed, “Indian children are facing an unhealthy future and a significant risk of NCDs in maturity. We are what we eat, so we must scrutinise the food that is marketed to us. As doctors, we are deeply concerned about the current nutritional trend. Requiring the industry to reformulate and manufacture healthier food products in accordance with global and scientific standards can help prevent an obesity or diabetes epidemic.”

With a 34 million tonne sales volume, India is a worldwide food and beverage powerhouse. According to Euromonitor data, India will be the world's third largest packaged food market by 2020, behind China and the US. In urban and rural India, youngsters consumed salted packaged foods like chips and instant noodles, 56 percent sweet packaged foods like chocolates and ice creams, and 49 percent sugar-sweetened packaged beverages on average twice a week. Experts say a simple, informative and necessary front-of-pack label could be India's winning strategy to secure a healthy tomorrow for its children.

Furthermore, most processed and packaged foods contain multiple times the threshold specified by the FSSAI in its 2018 draught labelling and display standards or the WHO SEARO NPM model, according to Ashim Sanyal, COO, Consumer Voice. The FSSAI's 2019 proposed regulations were a major step towards lowering health risks. Due to industry opposition, a decision has been waiting for years.”