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US-India Symposium on Food Processing Technologies inaugurated
Thursday, 25 February, 2010, 11 : 00 AM [IST]
Our Bureau, Mumbai
The Indian food processing industry presents a huge untapped opportunity. Food processing can do for rural India what IT has done for urban India. Food safety and security are the key global issues in terms of consumer confidence and public health. This is the main focus of the two-day US-India Symposium on Food Processing Technologies for Food Safety and Innovation being organised by CII at the Taj in Mumbai on February 25-26. US National Academy of Engineering (USNAE), Indian National Academy of Engineering (INAE), Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) and Protein Foods and Nutrition Development Association of India (PFNDAI) are the co-sponsors of the symposium.

The objective of the symposium is to discuss the role of food processing technologies to enhance food safety and drive innovation and provide a forum to discuss global and regional food safety issues and new approaches to food safety management.

Addressing the delegates at the inauguration of the symposium, Dr V Prakash, Director, CFTRI, Mysore, said food security would be a top agenda for the government. The country had to feed 1.12 billion people three times a day, that is 3.36 billion meals per day.

Dr Prakash talked about food and nutrition security and stressed the need for the innovation of a lot of nutritious food, nutraceuticals, dietary supplements and functional foods.

He said science had a major role in innovation. Science and industry should complement each other by introducing healthy and nutritious food to meet the requirements of the health-conscious consumers. The national policy on food processing aims at increasing the level of food processing to 25% by 2025. He said the new agenda for the food processing industry should be science-friendly, industry-friendly, producer-friendly and consumer-friendly. He hoped the proceedings of the symposium would play a big role in shaping the food security/safety agenda for the government and the venue of the meeting remembered for 26/2 and not 26 /11.

Prof. Darsh Wasan, vice-president-IIT, Chicago, and co-chair, USNAE, said food security and safety were the key global issues. The demand for food would double by the year 2050 and unless necessary steps were taken now, it would be difficult to feed an estimated 9-10 billion population. Being the second largest producer of agricultural products, India has enormous opportunities to export food. With 1% agricultural GDP, US exports $48 billion worth of food, whereas India with 18% GDP exports just $1billion worth of food products. Safety of imported food products was a major issue for the US, he said. Countries like India would require new technologies to meet the export obligations, he said.

Jamshyd Godrej, past president, CII, and CMD, Godrej & Boyce Manufacturing Co. Ltd, in his inaugural address, talked about the ongoing controversy about Bt brinjal – with scientists on one hand and the civil society on the other. He said it was amazing that it had created so much interest. At the same time, is the individual consumer so much concerned, he asked. “What we do today will have far-reaching impact on the next 50-100 years,” he said

He also talked about the unsustainability of the first green revolution. The depletion of ground water resources, over-usage of chemical fertilizers, acidity of soil, lower productivity were matters of concern, he added.

Earlier, Dr Joseph Lewis, head, R&D Kaya Life, Marico Ltd & chairman, Regulatory Affairs, Committee, PFNDAI, spoke about the importance of food processing. He said India’s 350 million middle class was a nation within a nation. With changing food habits and enough purchasing power this segment constituted a huge market for agri products and processed food. The food production in the country was likely to double in the next 10 years and there was an opportunity for large investments in food and food processing technologies, especially in packaging, frozen food/refrigeration, thermo processing. Fruits & vegetables, fisheries, milk & milk products, meat & poultry, packaged/convenience foods, alcoholic beverages & soft drinks and grains and cereals are sub-sectors of the food processing industry. Health food and health food supplements is another rapidly rising segment of this industry which is gaining vast popularity amongst the health conscious.

Globalisation of the food industry had seen a rapid growth. The amount of food traded internationally, especially processed food, was growing twice as fast as the trade in commodities, he said.
 
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