India's first Virtual 'Processed Food Expo' organised by Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI), Govt of India in association with FICCI was inaugurated on 20 January by policy-makers and stalwarts of the food processing industry.
At the inaugural session of the event, Rameswar Teli, MoS, Food Processing Industries, Govt of India voiced that a well-developed food processing sector with a higher level of processing helps to reduce wastage, improvise value addition, encourage crop diversification, ensure better RoI for farmers, boost employment along with growth in export earnings.
He added, "There is a plethora of opportunities in the food processing sector for growth in employment and export potential."
Teli also expressed that there is a need to develop processing, handling, packaging, storage, and distribution technology for all key processed products to meet domestic and international food regulation standards. The food processing ministry is implementing the R&D plan for the sector. The objective is the commercialisation of the food processing industry. He further added that he was confident that this R&D plan will benefit not only the product and process development but will also aid in the better packaging value chain by value addition in the food processing industry.
Pushpa Subrahmanyam, Secretary, MoFPI said that the food processing industry is research and innovation-based. It is the innovation that drives this sector and determines its path and expansion.
"The ministry has been supporting small innovation projects for developing new products & processes, packaging, testing equipment and more affordable technology for the predominant MSME industry in this sector," she added.
Subrahmanyam informed that the ministry spends about Rs 100 crs for R&D and many more are in the pipeline. "We will continue to focus, particularly now, on Waste to Wealth technologies, also packaging solutions that are more biodegradable or can be plastic substitutes. The sector sees this as a big challenge, and we would like to put give resources to fund these kinds of sustainable solutions to the industry," she noted.
The MoFPI portal on the Food R&D projects 2021 was launched at the event. This portal presents the outcomes of the R&D works of various institutes involved in food processing and value addition in India. The portal has facilities to explore technological solutions in the form of food products, processes and technology and food processing machinery and will also serve as the repository of innovations and technical solutions.
Hemant Malik, Chair- FICCI Food Processing Committee, and CEO-Food Division, ITC Limited said that there is a lot of demand coming in terms of shelf life, microbiological aspects & innovation in packaging. "The R&D for developing food item and packaged food in India will work towards not only extending shelf life but also towards improving nutritional attributes in food items," he said.
Mohit Anand, Co-Chair- Food Processing Committee, FICCI and Managing Director, Kellogg India & South Asia said that the engagement between the industry and the academia will result in a business matchmaking that is the end objective of the convention. It will also open opportunities for the industry by giving access to knowledge, he said.