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Experts discuss innovations and trends in food & beverage sector
Wednesday, 09 December, 2009, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Hasan Mulani, Mumbai
Latest innovations and trends in food & beverage and the scope for health and wellness products in India were discussed at a full-day conference organised by Protein Foods and Nutrition Development Association of India (Pfndai) in Mumbai on Saturday, December 5. About 100 delegates from the food & beverage industry attended the conference which was inaugurated by Saugata Gupta, CEO, Marico. Dr V Prakash, director, CFTRI, delivered the keynote address as special guest (F&B –December7&8).

Speaking at the afternoon session on “Innovation in developing new healthy products,” Dr Prakash Virkar, divisional manager – Beverages Innovations, Hindustan Unilever, said, “The world of health & wellness market is poised to be around $500 billion with rosy pictures in the Indian market. The current global innovations in health & wellness food products are enhancing daily health and future health, meeting families’ nutrition requirement, physical and mental well-being and use of less additives and artificial ingredients.”

Sustainable sourcing, return-to-nature (recycle), natural flavours and consumers’ convenience were the current trends in the health food segment, Dr Virkar said. “Today, our job in India is to provide/offer healthy products as per consumers’ convenience. For instance, if a consumer wants chocolate cake then we (processed food manufacturers) have to innovate chocolate cake with less sugar, little obesity ingredients and more nutrition.”

According to Dr Virkar, the key challenges in the developing countries, including the Indian processed foods market, are regulatory issues, supply chain, lack of consumer communication, building trust and credibility. People from developed countries like the UK, the US and Germany rely on processed food for freshness and well-being, whereas developing markets like India, China, Mexico and Brazil still rely on fresh produce for freshness and nutrition which is a setback to value addition.

The annual growth rate of packaged food and health & wellness food products in Europe is about 6% and 10-12% per annum.

Dr Virkar informed that Hindustan Unilever is also working on similar innovations and trends like sustainable sourcing, return-to-nature, organic farming and healthy processed food.

“Globally by 2015, Hindustan Unilever will bring sustainability in sourcing; promote organic farming and qualitative produce. The Indian food industry can also study/look for product innovations which can help fight frequent diseases in developing countries, like cold-n-flu and stress,” he added.

While speaking on “Innovative products for emerging markets,” B Prashanth, head – R&D Foods, Dabur, said there were four major drivers for food & beverage innovations in India – rising consumer needs and preferences, cost of production and final product, technology capability and material availability.

“The Indian food industry is quite different from elsewhere. Here each region has a different taste and preferences like for breakfast – tea with milk, black tea, black coffee, juices, rice-based meal, wheat-based meal and other non-veg. items. Internationally, soya and cereal based food products are highly acceptable, however Middle East prefers sweeter products,” Prashanth said.

Another important topic of the conference was “Enrichment in processed foods,” in which Dr Rajeev Kumar Thakur, technical manager, Roquette India, presented a paper containing detailed statistics on the Indian dietary habits and the role of manufacturers to provide healthier food.

“Since 1964, per capita edible oil, sugar and calorie consumption has been doubled – one of major concern in India. Indian processed foods lack protein which leads to serious illness like obesity, diabetes, cancer, and osteoporosis, cardio vascular and dental diseases,” Dr Thakur said.

According to WHO and FAO report, our daily intake should contain 55-60 per cent of carbohydrates, 15-30 per cent of fats and 10-15 per cent protein while sugar should not go beyond 60 grams.

Dr Thakur also informed that one of the richest sources of sugar & fats are – chocolates and confectioneries (25-50 per cent), bakery products (over 50 per cent) and frozen desserts (13-20 per cent).

Wheat, pulses, meat, milk and eggs are the best sources of protein. The daily protein requirement for the body is about 1.3gm for per kg of weight. He also urged all leading food processors of the country to increase the use of sugar alternatives.

“I am happy with the number of participation from the industry this year. With this conference we always seek to provide a platform for industrial experts to talk and share vital information, which can help boost the sector. The sessions were very qualitative and hope delegates will take the points in a positive way,” Dr J S Pai, executive director of Pfndai, told F&B News on the sidelines of the conference.

Eminent speakers like Bhupinder Singh, CEO of Vista Foods, Pranesh Misra, chairman and MD of Brandscapes Worldwide and Rashmi Uppal, technical marketing manager – Foods, DSM Nutritional Products presented paper on various imperative subjects. Supply chain concenrs food industry, What Indian consumers are looking for in healthy food products, healthy & fortified new bakery and snack products, and Use of lipids satiety and improving bioavailbility of B-vitamins in health foods were some of the topics discussed in the conference.
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