12) Global meet highlights innovative Ready-to-Eat products, new market opportunities (29 April 2011)

Hyderabad, India 29 April 2011 – The three-day “Global Symposium on Ready-to-Eat (RTE) Foods: Opportunities for R&D, Entrepreneurship and Markets” held on 25-27 April at the Hotel Taj Banjara, Hyderabad concluded with a promise of better, healthier and safer convenience food for the consumers through R&D and more market opportunities and enhanced entrepreneurship within the food industry.

The symposium was organized by the NutriPlus Knowledge Program of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in association with ASSOCOM India and with support from the Ministry of Food Processing, Government of India.

With shifting consumer trends and changing eating patterns worldwide, the meet sought to promote RTE foods to a wider market through the transfer of technologies to entrepreneurs. It also addressed various food challenges such
as meeting the demands for innovative, healthy and safe meal solutions for a busy lifestyle. The role of micro-, small
- and medium-scale enterprises was highlighted as vital in improving peoples’ livelihood opportunities and increasing their participation in the agro-food industry.

Tackling the issue of food safety in the Indian food industry, Shri PI Suvrathan, Chairperson of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), spoke on the new Food Safety and Standards Act and how it will revolutionize the way food safety is perceived by the food industry and the consumers alike, in India. Highlighting the new rules and regulations under this unified act, he stressed that safety of foods is the primary responsibility of the food business operators.

“This global symposium on ready-to-eat foods is a step towards exploring new markets and creating demand for a wider diversity of higher-value foodstuffs and in reducing poverty by fostering agro-enterprises,” said ICRISAT Director General William Dar. The goals of the symposium, he added, are consistent with the Institute’s Inclusive Market-Oriented Development or IMOD strategy, which focuses on helping the farming poor to access markets to increase their food supplies and incomes, and hence create a dynamic progression from subsistence towards market-oriented agriculture.

In pursuing IMOD, Dave Hoisington, ICRISAT Deputy Director General (Research), expounded on the Institute’s Agribusiness and Innovation Platform (AIP) where inclusive growth and innovation is the key. He pointed out that the NutriPlus Knowledge Program, one of the three components of AIP, aims to engage with the public sector, the private sector food industry, and advanced food research institutes to promote the cause of smallholder farmers of the
semi-arid tropics. The symposium, he added, showcases a number of value-added, innovative RTE healthy food products, such as healthy snacks from sorghum and pearl millet and refreshing drinks from sweet sorghum juice, developed through R&D using the ICRISAT mandate crops.

Dr AS Bawa, Director of the Mysore-based Defence Food Research Laboratory (DFRL), expressed interest in collaborating with ICRISAT in exploring the Institute’s mandate crops to develop healthy food products. Representatives from National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), Acharya N.G. Ranga Agricultural University, and Indian Institute of Packaging (IIP), Hyderabad; and National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI), Karnal, Haryana also expressed interest in collaborating with ICRISAT.

The meet introduced a number of innovative healthy food products and a range of technologies developed by different companies and research Institutes. Extruded healthy snacks from Sorghum and Pearl millet -“Pops” and “Krunchees’’, and sweet sorghum based drink rich in iron and calcium, “Sweet Sorghum Refresh”, was displayed at the ICRISAT stall. Mini MRE (Meals-Ready-to-Eat) food products with low weight and fewer calories. and Energy Dense Bars from DFRL, Ready-meal solutions and microwave‑based hot food vending machine, health and wellness drinks targeted at women and children, cooking oil spray, probiotic yogurt based on pearl millet and barley, neutraceutical products based on fenugreek and phytosterol, all natural ice cream, and food enzymes for RTE foods and new natural food colours and flavours, were some of the innovative concepts and products unveiled at the symposium.    

During the three-day deliberation, renowned speakers from the public sector, multi-national and domestic food companies, entrepreneurs, and food research and consultancy organizations delivered presentations in various areas such as research and development, marketing, entrepreneurial opportunities and success stories in the RTE foods segment. The private sector was represented in the technical sessions by TetraPak India (P) Ltd., MTR Foods Ltd., Parry Neutraceuticals, Jain Irrigation Systems Ltd. (Agri Food Division), Clextral- France, Cryovac-Australia, Mane
India Private Ltd., GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare India Ltd., Prathista Industries Ltd., Dairy Ice Cream and Frozen Foods Ltd., Sresta Natural Bio‑Products Ltd., Synthite Ltd., and BR Cooking Spray.


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