In the changing socio-economic environment, with an increasing number of women going for work and consequently, larger disposable incomes, there is a growing demand for convenience foods. There is also greater awareness of the need for quality and safety in food and for nutrition. Besides, there is the desire to spend less time on food preparation and more on eating out, now accepted as a form of entertainment. All these more on eating out, now accepted as a form of entertainment. All these factors, along with the spurt in tourism and increased number of tourists, post an enormous challenge to the food processing industry to come up with appropriate food products to suit these varying needs.
The challenge for food scientists and technologists has emerged in the form of development demands for the food sector, in order to meet consumer needs.
The work involved in the food processing industry spans the gamut of its sectors, from grain milling and fruit and vegetable processing, to meat and poultry processing, fisheries and dairy products.
The liberalization of Indian economy has provided the much needed fillip for the industry. All food processing industries, except milk foods, malted food and flour, can obtain automatic approval of foreign technology agreements, and 51 per cent foreign equity approvals. Foreign tie-ups, together with technology transfer, automation, quality upgradation, as also the processing of food products to reduce wastage of perishable commodities, are all factors that make the food processing industry the ‘new wave industry’.
The concept of processed foods has caught the imagination of consumers in recent years, because these foods offer enhanced convenience, variety, nutrition and taste. Different brands of the same item and attractive packaging view for the consumers’ attention.
Processed foods today include bakery products, beverages, confectioneries, soft drink concentrates, instant mixes, oil extracts, sugar, diary products, and fruits and vegetables.