Reformulating market trends and consumer palates: FICCI & FIA

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There is no advancement without innovation and creation and in this era of technological and scientific progress, no industry can stay behind in the race to winning over consumers

The food industry has evolved and morphed to stay adrift with times and consumer demands. Thus, food companies are focusing on step wise and incremental changes to reformulate products and navigate the changing market scenario.

With a focus on reformulation and to comprehend the topic from a scientific and regulatory perspective, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and Food Industry Asia- Singapore (FIA) conducted a webinar on 18th October, 2021, on “Emerging trends in the Era of Food Reformulation in Food Processing Ecosystem”, comprising of two sessions, viz., “Reformulation trend in Asian Countries’ and a panel discussion on “Evolving Food Product Reformulation in India: Way Forward”.  

The inaugural address was given by Inoshi Sharma, Executive Director, Regulatory Compliance, Food Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSAI) where she spoke on improving quality of processed food, environmental burden caused by food production and the role FSSAI plays in encouraging reformulation and aiding industries, “In reformulation the biggest advantage is that we can add nutrients and fortificants which can on a large-scale become affordable and people can procure it. One of the benefits of reformulated foods is that you can make it extremely healthy, high in fiber, provide nutrients without really changing the flavor.”

Sabeera Ali, Public Affairs Manager, FIA gave a presentation on “Evolving landscape around reformulation in Asia”, wherein she presented a major study conducted by FIA in association with Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD), UK across six major Asian markets- India, China, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand to assess consumer behaviour towards reformulation and market trends. She said, “Challenges related to reformulation mainly revolved around taste, budget limitation and consumer acceptability. Over two-thirds of these Asian manufacturers feel that they can accelerate their reformulation efforts if there was a lot more government support and fiscal incentives.”

During the panel discussion, Prof. Bejon Kumar Mishra, Founder- Healthy You Foundation said, “We must make it voluntary and empower consumers so they can make an informed decision. Consumer rights have to be honoured and respected.” He advised, “Bring in innovation and technology but make it affordable and accessible.”

Dr Naaznin Hussein, nutritionist and member, Indian Dietetic Association spoke on changing food trends, “Gen Z depends on snacking a lot more that regular meals. A lot of awareness building activity has to be done for the consumers.” She also encouraged small dietary changes like, “Mindful eating, lesser portions, gradual changes to healthier products and controlled eating”.

Zafar Khan, Head-Scientific and Regulatory Affairs, Mondelez International spoke on industry role in reformulation, their objectives and challenges faced, “Every reformulation is a formulation. All parameters have to be re-established. There is always the threat of losing consumers to other products.”

Sabeera Ali spoke on key recommendations for the industry and how to face the challenges, “Very simple and clear nutrition labels can be used to attract consumers and even entice them with advertisements and social media marketing.” She also spoke on how startups can be empowered in food reformulation domain by looking at the lessons learnt and best practices undertaken.

According to Abhinav Singh, Head- Food Processing & Confederation of Indian Food Trade and Industry (CIFTI), FICCI, “There is always a need for multi-sectoral collaboration comprising of regulatory bodies, industry, consumers and nutrition domain in this reformulation journey.”

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