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Speciality ingredients opening immense opportunities
Tuesday, 16 March, 2010, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Food Ingredients & additives sector is accelerating the growth of the food processing industry. According to Frost & Sullivan report, Food Ingredient market globally is expected to reach $30bn by 2010. This is where Centre for Processed Foods (CPF) a Bangalore-based outfit is making concerted efforts to promote the use of natural additives & ingredients. Chetan L Hanchate, Consultant – Food Processing and CEO, Centre for Processed Foods tells Nandita Vijay on the boom in the sector in an exclusive interview. Excerpts:

What is the current scene for Food Ingredients in the country?

Food Ingredients segment is opening up immense possibilities for growth. The segment is an indispensable component for the growth of food and beverage sector, registering an annual growth rate of 14-16 %. Further the importance of speciality ingredients like soya isolate, whey protein concentrate, dietary fibres and Omega 3 fatty acids among others cannot be ignored. These ingredients are also driving the developement of the wellness / health food industry to clog 20 percent growth annually.

Many food processing industries are using speciality additives & ingredients in functional foods for fortification. Another area of interest is the bioactive ingredients developed out of herbal extracts for the production of nutraceutical products which is expected to grow in the coming years. Functional foods are becoming popular primarily because of the poor dietary habits in the working population. To prevent deficiencies, consumption of functional foods is a fad. However, despite the positive aspects emerging out of Indian food processing sector, there is an urgent need to address certain minimum standards of quality & safety of such foods.

As discussed in many forums, in India, only 2 to 5 percent of Indian agricultural produce are processed into various degrees of value added products. These figures clearly potray the enormous scope for growth for the food industry. As the food sector develops, it will automatically see the rise of food additives & ingredients segment as they will play an important role in further processing.

Which are the food additives & ingredients which are gaining popularity?

According to me, food ingredients like colours, flavours, speciality functional ingredients, vitamin, minerals, essential amino acids, fatty acids, active herbal & spice extracts, dietary fibres, biologically active cultures, fat and sugar replacers, enzymes and antioxidants will play vital role in the growth of Indian food industry.

Of late health awareness among the consumers has alerted the food industry regarding the usage of additives & ingredients. The industry is gearing up to meet the challenges by using natural ingredients and additives in their processes, instead of artificial products. For example use of natural colours, flavours, active ingredients, antioxidants, vitamins, isolates, concentrates etc are becoming default in health food and wellness industry.

The importance of other natural bulk additives like minor millets and lentils cannot be ignored which act as booster ingredients in certain processed foods in natural form apart from they being promoted to consume as main course food. Today ingredients for probiotics and prebiotics foods are gaining ground. These are used in formulating speciality foods which contain lyophilized active bacterial cultures.

What are the important products produced using these additives & ingredients ?

There are a profusion of products expected to come out into the basket of health and wellness foods. The variety includes, speciality foods catering to the needs to diabetic, cardiovascular, infants, kids, geriatric, sportsperson, post operative speciality foods, anti aging, herbal foods, body builder’s foods and many others.

We at Centre for Processed Foods have triggered the development of a variety of such foods. Extensive product development is on for natural ingredients to use them in ethinic and traditional foods.

A whole lot of such products have been formulated and technology - transfer to few industries is on, apart from many which have already commercialized.

These include regular idlis and dhoklas carrying certain mixture of herbs into breakfast food. Further CPF is also looking at using egg albumen powder into health drinks.

What are the visible trends and challenges in this field?

The gradual shift and demand from the food industry for safe and validated ingredients is growing. This positive attitude of the food industry is further strengthened by FSSA ( ). This will help food industry to direct ingredients and additives suppliers to use natural and safe ingredients manufactured at plants that comply to HACCP and ISO 22000 standards. However this move will be of major challenge for the food sector to ensure high quality standards which would need to be maintained not only by them but also by their suppliers.

What is the future of the Food ingredients sector?

In the coming months food ingredients manufacturers will have to adher to the pre requisites of cGMPs to sustain in the business.

A lot more research and product developments need to be initiated in designing more of natural and safe ingredients which is a major task for the ingredients and additives industry in India and abroad. In the coming years organic functional food industry will emerge as one of the major attractions in the markets.

Entrepreneurship and setting up new enterprises, technical tie-ups in the food ingredient & additive industry will be of major focus.

What are the activities by CPF in the area of food ingredients & likely future efforts?

CPF have been promoting the concept of eating healthy and balanced diet and have been designing foods and setting up commercial food processing projects with novel concepts. Functional ingredients coming through our ethnic and traditional foods have been successfully utilised in certain products like crispy ragi flakes, jowar flakes, little millets flakes, puffed and roasted grains, breakfast cereals with natural flavours and colours, with vegetables and fruits, imagine breakfast cereals with herbs, such products have been made ready for commercial production.

CPF also envisages to promote the usage of organic ingredients. The additive suppliers hold huge opportunities in this area as the organic food processors are presently deprived of certain organic both bulk additives and ingredients.

CPF is also commercializing some unique super speciality functional foods with all natural ingredients having very specific and target usage which will be boon for some of the ailments and acute conditions.
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