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Vol 13 Issue 06 April 2018


Schooling food safety?

Geneticallyd modi�eedcfcrop Thedoway�oforwa

The science of your synthetic supper


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The views expressed in this issue are those of the contributors and are not necessarily those of the magazine. Though every care has been taken to ensure the accuracy and authenticity of the infomation,"Oil & Food Journal" is however not responsible for damages caused by misinterpretation of information expressed and implied within the pages of this issue. All disputes are to be referred to Mumbai Jurisdiction.

ood industry is relentlessly revolutionizing as Digitization, Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain etc. are simply becoming an integral and important part of this sector. Most recent and advanced one is a technology developed by US retail giant Walmart - that is engineering artificial intelligence (AI) capable of examining fresh fruit and vegetable products for defects, accurately predicting the exact date of spoilage for particular items. The new ‘Eden’ technology will revolutionize food waste reduction, and estimated company savings of over $2 billion in the next five years as a result. Eden has so far saved Walmart $86 million during its trial in 43 distribution centres since January 2017. The scientists behind Eden expect the technology to develop into being able to make autonomous decisions by comparing scanned images of products against a library of acceptable and unacceptable versions of said item. As the AI gains experience, it should become more accurate and develop the ability to estimate an exact shelf-life of produce. Using Eden could mean more efficiently ripening bananas, predicting the shelf life of tomatoes while they’re still on the vine, or prioritizing the flow of green grocery items from the back of the store to the shelf. Well talking of technology, India isn’t far behind, as Amul has brought in the first ever remote sensing centre for estimation of fodder crops in Anand and Kheda. Last year, GCMMF had signed a MoU with the Space Application Centre (SAC) of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for this project. This is an innovative idea to help milk producers to know when to initiate cultivation of fodder crop by use of satellite images. This would help farmers to estimate fodder production, plan them to grow or intensify fodder production and improve fodder availability leading to increase in milk production and economic benefit. This will also pave a new era of fodder crop management using satellite data for current status of fodder crops grown during one crop cycle like Rabi, kharif and summer in a year. It can be utilized in dairy sector for decision support in drought management also. Gradually it will be scaled up to all districts of Gujarat through respective milk unions of GCMMF. The Amul Remote Sensing Center will work towards estimation of fodder crops in Kheda, Anand and Mahisagar districts and similar centre will also come up at Banas Dairy for Banaskantha and Patan districts of North Gujarat. Digitization is major of online grocery retail and this is booing in India. Hence taking on the opportunity as part of scaling up its grocery service, Amazon India has launched a specialised network of 15 Fulfillment Centres (FC). These are dedicated to AmazonNow, an app-only service with ultra-fast delivery of daily essentials in Bangalore, Mumbai, New Delhi, and Hyderabad. Amazon India now has 56 FCs across 13 states with close to 13.5 million cubic feet of storage space; 15 of these FCs support the AmazonNow business. The new FCs is expected to provide faster delivery. These FCs are equipped with temperaturecontrolled zones to store and deliver perishable products such as and vegetables (F&V), dairy products, and chilled and frozen products. The government had allowed 100 per cent FDI in food retail in the country in 2016. Under this, Amazon can set up wholly-owned subsidiaries in India to retail food. Reports say Amazon is now a vendor on its platform, and is operating from Pune. Grocery is turning out to be the next frontier for ecommerce players, with this category increasingly capturing consumers’ fancy. BigBasket and Grofers are the primary e-grocers in India but order volumes are still low compared to categories such as mobile phones and fashion. Flipkart also recently launched its own grocery category, Supermart but does not retail fresh produce except dairy and eggs. Prime Minister’s dream is to make India digital and is going good; we can see that the country is adapting to it, slow but then steadily. FSSAI have released a draft 'Food Safety and Standards (Safe and Wholesome Food for School Children) Regulations, 2018 that listed dozens of food items in three categories. The foods and beverages categorized as green or yellow above may be included on the school menu and food business operators manufacturing HFSS [high in fat or salt or sugar] food products shall not advertise such foods to children in school premises. The proposed regulations to introduce traffic light health labelling for food products in Indian schools have infuriated All India Food Processors' Association, who has warned that a law like could force manufacturers to use the system for entire ranges of their products, regardless of where they are sold, including jams, juices, butter, pickles and Indian condiments, as well as basic recipe ingredients such as meat and vegetables. This years’ budget has been quite amazing, first its wide attention towards food processing industry and then on promoting digital India. I am not surprised as these two things are getting interrelated at the moment as digitization will promote ecommerce and bring new innovation in the food industry, right from the farm to the shelf and then to the fork.

Agro & Food Processing April 2018




Schooli n

View, counterview and insig Basma Husain

months to enforce their implementation across the country. If well implemented maintaining the spirit of it, the guidelines will help avoid the looming health crisis in this country.

Is banning junk food from school and its advertisement on channels the solution to fight the mounting threat of obesity and related diseases among children? Is calling all processed food a junk right? In this article the Agro and food processing magazine explores what lies beneath.


ew years back Delhi High Court had ordered Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to regulate junk food consumption among school children across India, by enforcing its guidelines on wholesome and nutritious foods. The Court had directed FSSAI to implement the ‘Guidelines for making available wholesome, nutritious, safe and hygienic food to school children in India’. These guidelines were developed by a committee constituted by the FSSAI as directed by the Court.

diseases such as obesity, diabetes and hypertension among children. Some of the key principles behind these guidelines are ‘benefits of balanced, fresh and traditional food cannot be replaced, The truth is schools are not the right places for promoting foods high in fat, salt and sugar’ and ‘children are not the best judge of their food choices. In fact foods high in fat, salt and sugar such as chips, fried foods, and sugar sweetened beverages should be restricted in schools and nearby; advertisement and promotion of such foods targeted at children is to be regulated .

The guidelines provided a scientific background on how consumption of junk foods high in fat, salt and sugar is linked with growing non-communicable

The Court had directed that the guidelines be given a form of regulations or directions as per the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 within a period of three

Agro & Food Processing April 2018

What did the guidelines recommend? • Most common junk foods that are high in fat, salt and sugar such as chips, fried foods, and sugar sweetened carbonated beverages, sugar sweetened non-carbonated beverages, ready-to-eat noodles, pizzas, burgers, potato fries and confectionery items should be restricted in schools and 50 meters nearby. • Advertisement and promotion of such foods targeted at children is to be regulated through a framework that includes all types of media, celebrity endorsements and promotional activities. • A canteen policy should be implemented based on color coding. Green category foods -- the healthy food options -- should constitute about 80 per cent of available foods. Red category of select most common junk foods that are high in fat, salt and sugar should not be sold or served in schools. Suggested, healthy menu options should include fruit salad, fruits, paneer / vegetable cutlets, khandvi, poha, uthapam, upma, idlis and kathi rolls, low fat milk shakes with seasonal fruits and no added sugar, fresh fruit juice and smoothies with fruits, fresh lime soda, badam milk, lassi etc. • The FSSAI should fix limits of unhealthy ingredients such as transfats to 5 per cent at the earliest. • Schools should promote nutrition education and awareness for children. A


ng food safety ?

hts of banning junk and unhealthy food from school well-structured curriculum on balanced diet and its health impacts should be introduced. • Labeling regulations must be strengthened by the FSSAI to enable complete and transparent information on the amount of fat, salt and sugar with reference to recommended daily allowed limits. Present work The Court had emphasised on time-bound enforcement across the country and had put immense faith in the FSSAI. But it took three years for the regulator to take vital steps; FSSAI now has urged the states and Union territories to advise their school education boards to use the ‘Yellow Book’, aimed at children detailing how to eat right, in school curriculum. The book was brought out by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) in September last year, and has been launched in three categories for children in the age group of 4-7 years, 8-12 years and 13-17 years.

Books in their curriculum while delivering inputs related to safe and wholesome food. And the existing curriculum maybe reviewed based on FSSAI’s content, gaps identified and a holistic review undertaken to ensure messaging is not fragmented and is appropriate and correct. The book has been developed after discussions with various education boards such as CBSE, NCERT, state education boards, and nutrition and education experts. Besides, the FSSAI has also launched ‘Pink’, ‘Purple’ and ‘Orange’ Books which consists of information on food safety and nutrition for Indian households, restaurants and employees in organisations. This year FSSAI, to keep a check on the children’s health, is the implementing

It covers a range of topics from food safety practices, personal hygiene and cleanliness habits and eating a balanced diet, to packing a wholesome lunch-box. It also lays emphasis on preventing nutritional deficiencies and making healthy choices. The book includes useful tips and interesting activities for school children. It can be used independently as a guide, as well as an activity book in conjunction with the existing curriculum in schools. State governments and Union territory administrations are requested to advise the school education boards to use the Yellow

Agro & Food Processing April 2018

11 Food Safety and Standards (Safe and Wholesome Food for School Children) Regulations, 2018. In this regulation a standards for food items sold or supplied in school mess, kitchens and eateries run by food business operators or even vending machines is prescribed. Under the proposed rules, schools will be asked to make distinction between eatables marked green, yellow and red. While green will mostly comprise of fresh food, yellow will imply packaged food and red colour will mean food items high in salt, sugar and fat. The draft rules suggest that food and beverages categorized as green or yellow should be largely be on school menus and items labelled as red, with high fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) content will be discouraged from being sold or provided inside school campuses. “Red” food, include samosas, French fries, ready-to-eat noodles and burgers, from school canteens and encourage “green” food such as wholegrain cereals, legumes, lean meat, fish and eggs.The rules discourage red-coded food from school canteens, hostel kitchens and from being sold within 50 metres of school premises. State food authorities will be tasked with surveillance and inspections to ensure schools comply with the rules that also specify safety and hygiene requirements - for premises, utensils, food handlers and raw materials. The suggestion comes amid concerns about growing prevalence of overweight and obesity among adolescents, as a 2016 review published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research had found that prevalence of overweight adolescents had increased from about 10 per cent before


12 2001 to 14 per cent after 2010. It also says that a balanced diet for school-goers is one that “should provide about 50-60 per cent of the total calories from carbohydrates (preferably from complex carbohydrates), about 10-15 per cent from proteins and 20-30 per cent from both visible and invisible fat. In addition, it should provide such non-nutrients as dietary fibre and antioxidants, which bestow positive health benefits.The draft regulation also says that the school authority selling or catering school meals must obtain a license or be registered as a food business operator (FBO) from the concerned licensing authority under the provisions of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006. These proposed norms are based on science and highest standards of nutritional requirements for kids as laid down by the National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad and has come in the wake of a Delhi High Court directive given to the FSSAI few years back. The proposed norms also suggest that no person offers, or exposes for sale, HFSS foods to school children in school canteens, mess premises or hostel kitchens. State food authorities will also be required ensure that no person offers, or expose for sale, HFSS foods to school children within 50m of school premises. Food businesses manufacturing HFSS food products will also be barred from advertising such foods to children in school premises. Controls on the food served in schools in India have been long, long overdue. The reason is students may cite examples of what is served in schools to justify what they wish to consume outside school - parents trying to discourage children from certain food in a supermarket may find themselves told that the same food are available in school.

or nose blowing while handling food. The canteen and kitchen staff would also need to ensure that the premises are free of insects and

flies, the kitchen ceiling is free from flaking plaster, and utensils are not broken or cracked. Also state food authorities should “motivate schools” to adopt a comprehensive health-promotion programme and adopt a rating system that would recognise schools with high health standards and encourage other schools to follow suit. COUNTER VIEW FSSAI take on banning of junk food in school and its ads is actually not the solution to control the growing epidemic of diseases related to, obesity and heart. In fact the government has stated that there is no proposal at present to ban advertisements of junk food on television. Instead, it told the Parliament that nine major operators in the food processing business have decided not to advertise products with high fat on children’s channels, while major industry bodies like the Food and Beverage Alliance of India (FBIA) are already instituting mechanisms to restrict advertising of food and beverage items concerning children voluntarily. Our children today are increasingly susceptible to obesity and the growing proliferation of unhealthy food habits and

Apart from removing junk and unhealthy food from the school premises, it is also important that the regulators implement rules on food handlers in school canteens and kitchens to wear clean aprons, head gear and hand gloves, and undergo periodic medical tests to rule out infectious diseases. They will also need to refrain from eating, chewing, smoking, spitting

Agro & Food Processing April 2018

lifestyles are major offenders. Going by the current trends, the World Health Organisation contends that nearly 70 million children will be overweight or obese by 2025. That’s a scary prediction, considering the serious health risks associated with obesity. Contrary to popular belief, obesity has little to do with income levels. It is not a sign of affluence, and the problem of obesity is worse in developing nations, especially in their cities. In fact, some studies contend that Indians are especially more prone to diabetes, which is an outcome of obesity. What is needed is that the Governments should encourage tighter connections between agricultural production systems, urban grocers and food vendors. Relationships with farmers in areas immediately adjacent to cities, in addition to the promotion of urban gardens, have been popular approaches in the US. Such initiatives can also help urban residents better understand the mechanics of food sourcing. This raises awareness about the relationship between natural foods and healthy lifestyles. Even the preservation of culture around traditional foods can promote healthy alternatives. Is a ban on advertising on unhealthy food for children desirable and feasible? It is imperative for governments to exhaust every other regulatory option before going for a ban, and only in the event of an imminent threat. Besides, bans stop people from actually resolving the underlying issue. The issue isn’t that kids are eating junk. It’s that they aren’t eating healthy in this case. Price of fruits and vegetables are skyrocketing. What’s the cheaper alternative to junk food? Kids eat it because parents also allow them, right? And why do parents buy it in the first place.


What a ban in this case does is it essentially legitimizes advertisements as the source of the problem while the root lies elsewhere. How do you make a society adopt a different behavioral norm? History has shown us that it is through slow and steady progress along multiple dimensions. If a ban seems like a viable option, what food or beverage products will make the list? What are the consequences of non-compliance? In 2015 the Delhi High Court had ordered the strict implementation of guidelines issued by FSSAI for delivering nutri-

tious, hygienic and wholesome food for school-going children.As per the guidelines, certain foods were classified under high fat, salt and sugar content (HFSS). These foods include carbonated beverages, potato chips, fried food items, burgers, pizzas, chocolates, samosas, and confectionary items, among others. In early 2016, the Central Board of Secondary Education in India had issued a circular to all schools laying down these guidelines, asking schools to stop serving these food and beverage products to students at their canteens. In principle, this seems like a reasonable approach to prevent children from consuming junk food. However, classifying what makes up junk food is a tad more problematic. In fact, the FSSAI is still working on a set of rules for labelling of food products, particularly those under the HFSS category.


Without adequate labelling, including rules and procedures for the same, how can institutions like schools decide what constitutes junk food or not? This is precisely the same concern with issuing a ban on advertising junk food to children. Parliament, state legislatures, the medical community and the people have to sit and discuss what constitutes junk foods and frame the necessary legislation to deal with the same. More than legal compliance, however, what tends to work better is societal pressure. Non-profits and governments working on the same could also take a page from the beverage and processed food companies in the way they market their products, and do the same in reverse. Merely banning junk food from schools or advertising at this juncture doesn’t resolve anything in the long run. AGRO AND FOOD PROCESSING INSIGHT FSSAI is serious to keep a check on the children’s health and hence has implemented Food Safety and Standards (Safe

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14 and Wholesome Food for School Children) Regulations, 2018. In this regulation a standards is set for food items sold or supplied in school mess, kitchens and eateries run by food business operators or even vending machines. Under this a traffic light signal colour code has recommended, where the school will now be asked to make distinction between eatables marked green, yellow and red. In today’s time health of the children is important and it’s nice that FSSAI has thinking about it. Obesity is a bigger concern today among other health issues. Though excess of everything is bad for health, but medical fraternity these days is more vocal about health hazards created by refined added Sugar. Unfortunately items which are perceived as good for health, like fruit juices and wholegrain biscuits are having inordinate amount of added refined sugar, sometimes higher than cola beverages! Also refined wheat flour or maida used for making biscuits, cakes and breads, is worse for health than gram flour (besan) which is main ingredient of Namkeen. Sill under FSSAI rule they are under the red category. According to Kunal Jain, MD, Jain Food Products, the criteria for creating healthy or less - healthy food has to be more intellectual and specific, then the one in the current proposal. So that bad products should not get entry into Yellow/Green category by merely shrouding them as healthy choices. Jain added deep frying doesn’t always result in very high oil content and bad oil quality. In fact good oils are necessary for health. The namkeen industry’s modern frying processes and practices, oil management is far superior and hence should not be kept in same category with Samosa and Pakoras. “Namkeen needs to be placed in the right category, “asserted Jain. Sanjay Khandelwal, MD, Khandelwal Namkeens is quite unhappy that FSSAI has put Indian namkeen and snacks in the red category. He stressed that Indian snacks are unhealthy because if such was

the scenario then our grandparents/parents would not have given it to us for eating. Also these products are economically viable which is justified by the huge consumption rate.

duced the content of salt and fat in their snacks and food and sugar from their beverages. Many have pledged to remove trans-fat from their ingredient. Nestle has reduced sodium level from most of its product especially Maggi and Kurkure which is loved by the kids. Sanjay Khandelwal,

In fact Khandelwal said, “If there should be a ban on any products, it should be on pizza, burger, pasta, and noodles etc. which are the contributing factors to obesity.” The organised Namkeen industry produces good and safe snacks. But if compared to chocolates and sugar boiled confectionery items; Namkeen is not usually a priority of school going children. Though some prefer it over Samosa and Pakoras as Namkeen offered by organised manufacturer is much hygienic and is of better quality. Kunal Jain informs that the total market sale of Namkeens from School children is not very significant. But if we filter downto the Namkeen vertical Chips and Puffed snacks are going to get more impact than traditional extruded snacks. This regulation brought in by FSSAI is not at all practical. In cities and towns schools are everywhere and so are Kirana shops. Every Kirana shop or road side sellers or pan shop keep these products. The rule prohibits selling these items to school going children and not to others, thus implementation of this rule would be a big issue. After school, children go home and on their way they can easily get all the products that are banned in school from another shop; and 50 meters is not a enough deterrence for the child’s buying preferences. In school he is in closed doors, thus availability of limited choices will force him to go for alternatives but not outside of it. Rules for the sake of rules do not benefit society. They have to be practical too. Apart lapse in the entire regulation, it somewhat seems that in this blame game the regulator portrays the food and beverage industry as an accused, ignoring the fact that the industry is doing its best to reduce fat, salt and sugar in their products. Big companies like Nestle, Kraft, PepsiCo, General Mill and etc. have re-

Agro & Food Processing April 2018

Heinz has reduced sugar and salt level from its ever loved ketchup. Nestle and Mondelez have also pledged to cut sugar from their chocolates by 30 per cent. PepsiCo, which makes Lays and Doritos besides Kurkure snacks, and soft drinks including Pepsi cola and Mountain Dew, will reduce sodium and fat content in snacks and sugar content across its juices and carbonated drinks by 2025. Food companies are all set to fortify their product with vitamin and calcium and vitamin D, to make processed food children and adult friendly. Juices are being added to carbonated drinks, sugar being reduced. PepsiCo and Coca Cola have set a target to reduce quite an amount of sugar from their drink. A new study released by the Consumer Goods Forum found that the 102 companies it surveyed ranging from Walmart to Nestle reformulated more than 180,000 of their products to “support healthier diets and lifestyles and address public health priorities.” That’s an increase from just 84,000 products in 2015 and 22,500 in 2014. The number one ingredient the companies—representing some $1.8 trillion in 2015 revenue—were looking to remove was sugar. Sodium came in second, followed by Trans fats and saturated fats. Whole grains and vitamins were the top two elements companies added to recipes. Apart from the banning the junk food from school premises there were proposal for banning junk food ads from children’s channel, which the government denied in a recent parliament session. Still nine big food and beverage companies chose not to play their ads such channels. So who is more responsible…..the answer is debatable. The government and FSSAI cannot blame the food and beverage industry for all. The blame lies on the entire chain from the govt till the consumers.





Mesmeric Makhana What was considered too traditional and a winter favourite has reinvented as the millennial snack of choice


oxnuts or Makhana, a kind of dry fruit known as the “food of gods”, has found its way to the dining tables as a fat-free organic food. Makhana processing is a long process and can take three years. But there is a growing demand for fat-free and organic foods and makhana fulfills both the criteria.The percentage of protein and carbohydrate in makhana is 12 and 79 respectively. Makhana came into focus due to a project report prepared by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard) and approved by the Planning Commission for its large-scale cultivation in Madhubani district. Bihar accounts for 80 per cent of makhana produced in the country. It is largely used on socio-religious occasions. Until the implementation of the project, makhana farmers were unable to get the due price of their product. Around 40 per cent of the makhana produced in Madhubani was purchased for providing starch to the textile industry. Makhana- The Super Snack Today Foxnuts or Makhana is everywhere, vacuum-sealed reusable bags and in natty jars; at parties and during tea-breaks, at work or on university campuses. If you have craving for savoury snack, choose from wasabi, peri peri, mint, cheese and tomato, smoky barbecue or chaat masala-spiked, all punchy and binge-worthy. To feed a sweet tooth, there’s caramel, gur or chocolate-coated, all selling for Rs100-130 for 100g at speciality food stores, airports, in corporate offices and cafés across the country. The modest makhana, though native to Indiahas struggled to make its presence felt. Its story is as fascinating as how much little we know of it. It appearance is bland, and is disproportionate, off-white balls with dots of brown or black. And if chewed raw, that is in original form it is tasteless. But makhanahas long been teatime favourite, roasted in ghee and lightly seasoned, in Bihar where

its main production takes place and pockets of Bengal and Uttar Pradesh. The super snack lost its way in early 1990s as the markets opened up and was flooded by newer, ready-to-eat snacks sold by multinational brands. To be correct chips, nachos, cheese balls, namkeens etc. pushed foxnuts out of market, making their way into the houses of newer generation. Also growing water pollution contributed to its disappearance: Makhana grows in stagnant water, ensconced in the pomegranate-sized fruits of the aquatic plant Euryale ferox. As cultivation went down, prices shot up and it all but made an exit from the kirana stores. Makhana’s reincarnation credit can be given to Satyajit Kumar Singh who came to know that if given time and dedication this dry fruit could become a big industry. Singh assiduously visited makhana-growing areas, over the next few years, exploring its potential, including Madhubani, Katihar, Sitamarhi, Purnia and Samastipur, registering farmers and setting up procurement centres. In 2006, Singh founded a processing unit called Shakti Sudha in the Pataliputra industrial area and began buying kilos of makhana, sun-dried, roasted and traditionally popped. Today, Shakti Sudha procures processes and packages makhana in various forms (powder, whole, flakes) and sells it both wholesale and retail. And the project includes in its ambit giving seeds, financial support and technical assistance as well as purchasing the product from farmers. Bihar accounts for 80 per cent of makhana produced in the country. It is largely used on socio-religious occasions. Before the implementation of the project by NABARD and Shakti Sudha, makhana farmers never got to the due price of their product. Around 40 per cent of the makhana produced in Madhubani was purchased for providing starch to the textile industry. But through Shakti Sudha,

Agro & Food Processing April 2018

Makhana worth Rs. 6 crore are purchased per year from farmers in Madhubani and Darbhanga under the “backward linkage procurement programme” of the project. The project has agreement with 1,700 farmers in the two districts and helps them get loans and technical support from the National Makhana Research Centre at Darbhanga, where makhana is procured at a rate ranging from Rs. 50 to Rs. 125 per kg. Before this programme, the farmers hardly got Rs. 40 per kg from local middlemen.



Bihar is considered a poor state in comparison to many other states in India, but if tackled wisely, the makhana industry can add big money to the Bihar economy. If the online market inside and outside the country is tapped gorgon nut—which is what it’s being called for export purposes—can grow from a Rs.100 crore to a Rs.1, 000 crore product.

needs of consumers who like quick-fix but wholesome snacks and, now there is enough variety to keep boredom at bay. Being odourless and bland, it takes on any flavour one chooses to dress it with. Added value is that Makhana’s nutrition content is catching on as well as it is a high-energy, fat-free, high-quality carb-loaded snack.

flavoured makhana focusing on blend of taste and tradition. According to the company Makhana, a traditionally snack somehow got lost in modern ways of eating because there wasn’t perhaps an appealing way of serving or preparing it. So Sattviko cashed on the opportunity to fill that gap and people are realizing that it can be used as an everyday food.

Makhana is blend of tradition, health and modern Indian snack, which fits easily in the modern lifestyle, satisfying all the

Sattviko, a company founded by Indian Institute of Technology students capitalized on healthy snacks. Sattviko launched

Since makhana is being sold as an alternative to junk, it seems to appeal to parents who want to encourage healthy

Agro & Food Processing April 2018



rienced fishermen to form heaps of the sunken seeds that are scooped out with the help of a horn shaped split bamboo contrivance. Smaller and lighter seeds which float on the water are collected with the help of small nets. Collected seeds are thoroughly thrashed by feet to remove the membranous cover. The average yield of seeds varies from 2.5-3.0 tonnes per hectare of pond. Processing of makhana seeds are very tedious and still carried out by traditional methods due to lack of new processing technology. eating habits in their kids. The company has also brought makhana kheer and makhana chaat to the menu at the Sattviko chain of cafés. It’s probably true that home-roasted, ghee-coated makhana will rule in the hearts of purists, but there’s a whole other generation munching on the new-age version for the very first time. If it has made it this far, it’s because makhana is best-seller material—no one can eat just one. Too Yum! Is another growing packaged food company, which manufactures healthy snacks mainly focusing on promoting makhana as a healthy snack? With a tagline that read “Eat Lot, Fikar Not!” the brand is targeting the fitness conscious populace that always wants handy a packet or two of ready to eat munchies to binge on. The company has signed Virat Kohli as their brand ambassador so as to promote healthy eating habits in the young generation. Virat Kohli is easily one of India’s most revered youth icons and he can easily covet Indians to recognise importance of healthy food and how a traditional desi dry fruit can be a nutritive snack. Processing of Makhana Gorgon Nut or Makhana or foxnut (Euryale ferox salib) is considered as a potential aquatic cash crop in India especially in Bihar. Commercially, it is grown in Mithilanchal districts of Bihar (Madhubani and Darbhanga). It is adapted to the tropical climate of India and found in natural, wild forms in various parts of north-east India (Assam, Meghalaya, and Odisha) and scattered pockets of central and northern India (e.g. Gorakhpur and Alwar). However, it occurs in wild form in Japan, Korea, Ban-

gladesh, China and Russia. Makhana belongs to Nymphaeaceae family which has floating leaf and emergent macrophyte. The leaves are orbicular, floating and glabrous, green and corrugated above and deep purple beneath, supported by stout, porous and prickly ribs. The popped expanded kernel of the gorgon nut (Euryale ferox) which is a monotypic genus is characterized by its hard seed coat (shell), black colour and round shape seed. Makhana cultivation requires minimum expenditure as new plants germinate from the seeds left over from the last harvest. The only investment required is in thinning out the overgrowths, transplanting into sparse areas, adding insecticides and the collection of dispersed seeds from the pond bed during harvesting. The cultivation of this aquatic crop involves clearing of pond, broadcasting of seeds, thinning and gap filling, plant protection, harvesting and collection of seed. Ponds under running cultivation do not require broadcasting as saplings are produced from the left over seeds. The entire floor of the pond is swept by expe-

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Seeds are sun-dried in the morning, so that the moisture content reaches around 31 %. Water is spread out to keep the seeds fresh and to maintain the moisture content optimum. The other step of processing involves drying, grading, pre-heating and tempering, roasting and popping. After processing makhana seeds are dried to facilitate removal of kernel from the seed coat, and passed through different size of sieves to differentiate them into 2-3 grades. Uniform heat transfer occurs when seeds of same size are heated during preheating and roasting. Graded seeds are heated in cast iron pan with continuous stirring over fire at 230°C to 335°C for approximately 6 minutes.


19 wheat, rice, other cereals and some aquatic plants like Nelumbo and Trapa. The chemical constituents of the popped kernels (g/100g) are 12.8g moisture, 76.9g carbohydrate, 9.7g proteins, 0.1g fat, 0.5g total minerals, 0.02g calcium, 0.9g phosphorus and 0.0014g iron (Nath et al. 1985) which makes it comparable to dry fruits such as almond, walnut, cashew nut and coconut . Both raw and popped makhana are fairly rich in sixteen type’s essential amino acids. The values relating to essential amino acid index (EAAI) and chemical score (CS) of makhana are close to that of fish.

When a crackling sound is heard, 5-7 seeds are taken out, kept on a hard surface and hit with a wooden hammer. Seed coat breaks and due to sudden release of pressure, the kernel pops out in expanded form and seed coats are then removed manually. The edible part of makhana seed is perisperm and the popped known as makhana, are 19 x 15 kernels cm

polished by rubbing it against baskets made of bamboo splits without any delay to avoid absorption of moisture. Makhana is one of the most common dry fruits due to low fat content, high contents of carbohydrates, protein and minerals. The calorific value of raw seeds (362 k cal/100g) and puffed seeds (328 k cal/100g) lie close to staple foods like





Medicinal value Makhana is recommended for treatment of diseases regarding respiratory, circulatory, digestive, excretory and reproductive systems. The edible seed is known for its tonic, astringent, de-obstruent, anti-rheumatic, anti-diuretic and roborant properties. It is also utilized to overcome postnatal weaknesses in women and in case of men its aphrodisiac and spermatogenic potential is utilized.

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nual average production of 50,000 tonnes and an estimated market of Rs.500 crore per annum, India exports Makhana to the Middle East, the United States and some European countries. It is an excellent organic food with great medicinal value. Its seed is analgesic with aphrodisiac properties. In the northeast, unripe Makhana fruit is used as a vegetable.

Ayurveda, the Indian system of medicine recommends makhana to be beneficial in Tridosas (the seminal Ayurvedic theory of diagnosing diseases on the basis of three principal defects of the body), especially rheumatic disorders and Pitta disorders. In Unani system of medicine makhana is used against dysmenorrhea. According to the principles of Chinese medicine, its main functions are to notify the spleen and stop diarrhea, to strengthen the kidneys and control the essence and to dispel dampness. Makhana is used as a tonic and for the treatment of leucorrhoea and is good immune-stimulant. In spite of the unique properties of makhana, the consumers have lack of information about the product and its various uses and hence it has not been able to make enough strides into the consumers mind space. The benefits of the wonder crop have not been disseminated properly and the sector needs urgent attention.

Cultivation of Makhana at shallow water depth in cropping system mode would help to increase its area from the present 20,000 hectares [reduced from the 96,000 hectares in 1990-91] and production to a great extent.

Scientists say the agronomic management of the plant is difficult as it grows in natural water bodies of four to six feet depth, as a result of which the crop productivity is impacted. Besides, no other crop can be cultivated by the farmer in such conditions.

The plant, also cultivated in China and Japan, produces starchy, white seeds, which are edible. The seeds are collected in the late summer and early autumn, and may be eaten raw or cooked. In Punjab and western parts of the country, its seeds are often roasted and fried which causes them to pop up like popcorn.

To address the problem, farm scientists at ICAR’s Darbhanga centre successfully experimented with field cropping of the plant. They chose low-lying field with clay soil in which direct sowing of Makhana seeds was done in a chosen formation (as against transplantation in natural ponds) after raising bunds along the periphery.

Makhana ‘kheer’ is popular in Bihar and several parts of the country. With an an-

Good agronomic practices that were observed, resulting in a yield of 22 to 30

Break through In a significant breakthrough, Indian Council of Agriculture Research scientists have succeeded in developing a technique for field cultivation of Makhana, a kind of dry fruit produced from an aquatic plant ( Euryale ferox salisb). Normally grown in lowland ponds in parts of Bihar, Orissa, Assam and West Bengal, it will now be possible to grow the nutritional plant in low farmland and inter-crop it with rice, wheat and green fodder.

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21 na plantation done in March-April can be harvested in July-August. Then the farmers can grow rice in this field, after which they can take rabi crop from the same piece of land. To bring larger benefits to Makhana farmers, the scientists are now researching with fish cultivation in the same shallow pond. Horticulture produce like papaya, guava, vegetable and floriculture cultivated around the periphery of Makhana fields will also help farmers to enhance their income.

quintals per hectare as against the 12 to 15 quintals per hectare in natural ponds. Significantly, the Makhana crop thus grown can be inter-cropped with paddy, Berseem (green fodder) and wheat. The centre has experimented with Makhana-Berseem, Makhana-Paddy and Makhana-wheat cropping systems. The result of experiment indicated that after Makhana, a good production of paddy

[especially basmati rice- PRH-10] can be taken easily with 35 per cent more yield than traditional field. Basmati rice or Non-Basmati rice can be cultivated without any fertilizer because Makhana crop leaves lots of organic content [Biomass]. With the help of new research, Makhana can be harvested in 5-6 months. Makha-

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Genetically modified crops The government must be transpare

Agro & Food Processing April 2018



- The way forward nt and address understandable fears

T h e issues relating to the Genetically Modified Foods have generated intense public debate in many parts of the world. Even though the issues under debate include the costs and benefits

of the GM crops and the essential safety concerns, the outcome of the debate differs from country to country, depending on its geographical location, strength and resilience of the farm sector, attitudes of people towards food, and so on. In India also, this debate has engaged the attention not only of the Government but

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also of the farming community and the civil society. Though, it is widely claimed that biotechnology, particularly genetically engineered food offers dramatic promise for meeting some of the 21st century’s greatest challenges; like all new technologies, it also poses certain apprehensions and risks, both known and unknown. It is, therefore, paramount in this context, to



“The regulatory system in the country is clearly in tatters. Incident after incident shows that with the current regulatory regime in the country, citizens’ interests cannot be protected.

As mentioned by Union Health Minister in Parliament on December 29, various companies have been illegally importing and selling genetically modified soyabean and canola oil for human consumption. know the basic processes involved in genetic modification for proper appreciation of the related issues and challenges.While proponents of agricultural biotechnology argue that it has the potential to solve India’s agricultural problems, opponents point to the negative implications of biotechnology on environment and farmers livelihood. Issue A group campaigning for a ‘GM-free’ India has written to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, asking it to crackdown on sale of all genetically modified food in Indian supermarkets and initiate prosecution against those violating the law. The GM foods are not permitted to be sold under the Indian Food Safety and Standards Act. In a letter to the Chief Executive Officer Pawan Kumar Agarwal and Chairman Ashish Bahuguna of the FSSAI, the Coalition for a GM-free India said that certain brands of imported packaged food are openly being sold. The label on various products says ingredients could be genetically modified, in various stores in locations all over the country such as Bengaluru, Noida and Mumbai, it said. Neither Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) nor FSSAI have approved any of these products, Kavitha Kuruganti, co-convenor of the Coalition for a GM-Free India, said. As mentioned by Union Health Minister in Parliament J.P.Nadda on December

29, 2017 various companies have been illegally importing and selling genetically modified soyabean and canola oil for human consumption, the group said. “We request you to take strictest action to all those who are violating the law and ensure that un-approved products must be removed from the shelves immediately, whether in a packaged form or loose,” Kuruganti said. Why the mess Last year FSSAI told the Supreme Court that “GM (genetically modified) foods are not allowed in the country” and yet no action has been taken against the GM foods flooding Indian markets. The Coalition for a GM-free India has complained to the FSSAI with pictorial evidence asking them to remove such products from the market and fix liability on those involved. Union Health Minister J.P. Nadda, in the Parliament, admitted that since 2007, GM soybean and canola oils are being imported in India without the approval of FSSAI, which is tasked to regulate food to ensure that it is safe for human consumption. This happened few months after the FSSAI told the SC, “Since regulation is yet to be framed, it follows that GM food is not permitted to be sold in the country.”

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If the regulators had acted decisively in the past with severe deterrence, against illegal Bt cotton and later, HT cotton cultivation and other illegal imports of GM foods, this situation could have been prevented to a large extent. The government has to think of a serious overhaul of the entire setup and significant improvements in the inter-agency coordination required for ensuring that no illegal GM cultivation or sales take place in the country,” said the Coalition in a statement issued last year after illegal GM soya cultivation was found in Gujarat. The GM food imports require approvals under two laws: the Environment Protection Act of 1986 and the Food Safety and Standards Act of 2006. While the former covers environmental impacts of the food products, the latter assesses the food’s impact on human health. Since no regulation has been finalised for GM products, it is still banned in the country. Genetically modified crops are cultivated from seeds that are genetically engineered to increase yields or tolerance to pests. Such crops help boost food production to meet the ever-increasing food demands of the planet, say supporters. But whether it is safe for human consumption remains questionable as scientists fear that biodiversity will be under threat if GM foods are mixed with non-GM crops. What is GM CROP? Genetically modified crops (GMCs, GM crops, or biotech crops) are plants used in agriculture, the DNA of which has been modified using genetic engineering methods. In most cases, the aim is to introduce a new trait to the plant which does not


occur naturally in the species. Examples in food crops include resistance to certain pests, diseases, or environmental conditions, reduction of spoilage, or resistance to chemical treatments (e.g. resistance to a herbicide), or improving the nutrient profile of the crop. Examples in non-food crops include production of pharmaceutical agents, biofuels, and other industrially useful goods, as well as for bioremediation. Farmers have widely adopted GM technology. Between 1996 and 2015, the total surface area of land cultivated with

GM crops increased by a factor of 100, from 17,000 km2 (4.2 million acres) to 1,797,000 km2 (444 million acres). 10per cent of the world’s arable land was planted with GM crops in 2010. In the US, by 2014, 94 per cent of the planted area of soybeans, 96 per cent of cotton and 93 per cent of corn were genetically modified varieties. Use of GM crops expanded rapidly in developing countries, with about 18 million farmers growing 54 per cent of worldwide GM crops by 2013. A 2014 meta-analysis concluded that GM technology adoption

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had reduced chemical pesticide use by 37 per cent, increased crop yields by 22 per cent, and increased farmer profits by 68 per cent. This reduction in pesticide use has been ecologically beneficial, but benefits may be reduced by overuse. Yield gains and pesticide reductions are larger for insect-resistant crops than for herbicide-tolerant crops. Yield and profit gains are higher in developing countries than in developed countries. There is a scientific consensus that currently available food derived from GM crops poses no great-


26 er risk to human health than conventional food, but that each GM food needs to be tested on a case-by-case basis before introduction. Nonetheless, members of the public are much less likely than scientists to perceive GM foods as safe.

in its report presented to the Rajya Sabha chairman, also expressed surprise over absence of an in-house scientific study by the department of health research on impact of GM food on human health. Chowdhury noted that no study till date has been carried out on impact of GM crops on human health by department of health research.

The legal and regulatory status of GM foods varies by country, with some nations banning or restricting them, and others permitting them with widely differing degrees of regulation. However, opponents have objected to GM crops on several grounds, including environmental concerns, whether food produced from GM crops is safe, whether GM crops are needed to address the world’s food needs, whether the foods are readily accessible to poor farmers in developing countries, and concerns raised by the fact these organisms are subject to intellectual property law. Imported GM food floods Indian market unchecked Imported genetically modified (GM) food appears to be circulating uncontrolled in the country without any consumer advisories on possible harm, according to admission of a top government official before a parliamentary panel which, for now, has red-flagged introduction of GM crops in the country without evaluation of biosafety and socio-economic desirability. “There are certain GM food which we are told is coming in as a mixed form in some of the imports that is happening,” an official of the department of health research told the parliamentary panel, chaired by Congress leader Renuka Chowdhury, which recently submitted a report on “Genetically modified crops and its impact on environment”.

submission that FSSAI’s scientific panel for the genetically modified organism in food has recommended mandatory labelling for designated food products that have GM ingredient of 5 per cent or more. Hinting at the existence of an unregulated system under which Indians may already be unknowingly consuming imported GM food, the official of the department of health research said, “Once the labelling comes into force, some of the imported items – where we are still not very clear what the elements of GM food are – is something they are still working on.”

Meanwhile, the Committee has put the brakes on introduction of GM crops and said, “The committee strongly believes that unless the biosafety and socio-economic desirability, taking into consideration long run effects, is evaluated by a participatory, independent and transparent process and retrieval and accountability regime is put in place, no GM crop should be introduced in the country.” The recommendation comes after India’s GM crop regulator Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) recently recommended the commercial use of genetically modified mustard in a submission to the environment ministry.

By the official’s own admission before the committee no GM food product has “really been approved so far” yet there are such food coming into the country as a mixed form in some of the imports.

Socio-environment expert Sulagna Chattopadhyay welcomed the cautious note sounded by the committee and slammed the pressure group allegedly pushing for hasty introduction of GM crops. “An impression is being created that we need GM crops to boost yield where as there are many hybrid high-varieties available in the country for that,” said Chattopadhyay, editor of Geography and You magazine.

The official also hinted that there was virtually no system in sight, in the near future, on how or who will set standards for GM food consumption. The committee

She also opposed the introduction of GM crops claiming that the gains of pest resistance shown by GM crops in initial years are lost in later years as some other pests

The official pointed to absence of Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI)-mandated labelling system that could inform consumers that a particular food does have GM element so the harm should be well known. The department-related parliamentary standing committee on science and technology and environment and forest has now “strongly” recommended to the FSSAI that labelling on imported GM food must be done with “immediate effect”. The committee took note of the official’s

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become strong and more damaging, forcing additional use of insecticide and escalation of a farmers’ input cost. Will GM Foods move from India? Predictably, the recommendation by an experts’ panel appointed by the Supreme Court - that trials of genetically modified (GM) crops should be halted for 10 years - has stirred a hornet’s nest. Such a moratorium would include ongoing trials and the court rejected it. This follows on the heels of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture’s 492-page report published in August which asked for the banning of GM food crops in the country. The Supreme Court set up the expert panel shortly after the report was published. The Court is set to let its ruling known, very soon. The private biotech industry has its lobbies, like the Association of Biotech-Led Enterprises-Agriculture Group (ABLEAG), which have invested Rs. 500 crore on research here. The public sector has invested nearly twice as much and the Agriculture Ministry is exhorting both these lobbies to agitate against the ban. In 2010, the Minister of Environment & Forests (MoEF) Jairam Ramesh– after extensive public hearings – imposed an indefinite moratorium on the commercial introduction of GM brinjal. Last year, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar wrote to Ramesh, who asked the Genetic Engineering Advisory Committee (GEAC) to withdraw permission for field trials in the state. While by any reckoning a ban for 10 years appears excessive, since biotechnology would change appreciably in the interim, the concern expressed by MPs and, in turn, the panel of experts, cannot

be dismissed. As it happens, there is a precedent for taking on board such views. Public concern has been mounting over the cavalier approach to the authorization of trials. According to the Indian GMO Research Information System, as many as 74 crops are being researched at present. Fruits include pomegranate, banana and papaya; vegetables include potato, tomato and capsicum. At one meeting, the GEAC approved of no fewer than 144 applications and precious little monitoring of these trials follows. Often, the GEAC isn’t even aware where the trials are being held. This month, the Maharashtra government has appointed nuclear scientist Dr Anil Kakodkar to head a committee to decide on field trials: his expertise obviously has no connection with biotechnology, but he is a vocal supporter of nuclear power and would almost certainly endorse GM crops. The danger of unsupervised trials is that, among other hazards, nearby fields may be contaminated by GM strains, without strict precautions being taken. In March last year, the government-owned Pusa Institute in Samastipur district, Bihar, hurriedly uprooted a 540-sq-metre plot of GM corn, which was insect-resistant and herbicide-tolerant to pesticide developed by the multinational world GM crop leader, Monsanto, and moong or green gram, planted on the site instead. According to Monsanto, the GEAC had written to it, withdrawing permission for such trials and the Pusa scientists acted in haste. A team of scientists from the Institute of Biology headed by Gilles-Eric Seralini at the University of Caen in France published the results of a two-year study

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based on feeding 200 rats with a herbicide-tolerant maize developed by Monsanto. The strain resists Monsanto’s extensively used herbicide known as Roundup which, the company claims, and kills weeds without harming crops. Rats fed on this strain of maize died much earlier than the rats in the control group and developed hormonal and sex-related changes. Half the male rats and 70 per cent of the females died prematurely, compared with 30 per cent and 20 per cent respectively in the control group. This is reminiscent of the controversy generated with similar results demonstrated by Dr. Arpad Pusztai from the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen, Scotland in 1998. In a TV programme, he made public his research on rats fed with GM potatoes which damaged their stomach lining and immune system. He was suspended and his contract not renewed, but his research led to the questioning of this form of biotechnology worldwide. This year, the European Food Safety Authority Panel on Genetically Modified Organisms has said that “novel hazards” could be associated with transgenic crops that will not be present in normal ones. In July last year, Euro MPs have voted to give EU member states more flexibility to restrict or ban genetically modified crops on environmental or health grounds. Currently a type of maize is the only GM food cultivated commercially in the EU. But it is banned in six EU states: Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary and Luxembourg. The protagonists of GM maize point out that some 350 million consumers in North America have been consuming GM food crops. However, in



30 many environmental issues, the US is not as proactive as Europe where all foods have to be labelled if they are GM. The only commercial GM crop in this country is the Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Co (Mahyco) in which Monsanto has a stake and which, critics like the Delhi-based Gene Campaign allege, violated the rules and used an unapproved cotton hybrid as a “refugia” or a prescribed area where a non-GM crop is grown. In August, the Maharashtra government cancelled the license of Mahyco for selling Bt (GM) seeds due to complaints that it was creating an artificial shortage and charging higher prices. In the droughtprone region of Vidarbha, it is now established that Bt cotton is one, though by no means the only, reason for a virtual epidemic of farmers’ suicides.

given the unpreparedness of the Indian state to deal with this potentially toxic technology, the precautionary principle has to apply. This is what, for instance, has guided the central government’s strictures on the use of the pesticide endosulfan which has caused genetic abnormalities when sprayed on cashew plantations in Kerala and Karnataka. By all means, the moratorium should be reduced from a decade, provided the Centre and states take adequate steps to monitor the introduction of this technology. Govt urged to enforce law on labeling of imported processed GM foods India for Safe Food (IFSF), a Campaign for Food Safety, has urged the government to ensure strict adherence to the law on labeling of imported processed genetically modified (GM) foods and cottonseed oil being made from GM cotton domestically.

The Maharashtra government has asked the Tata Institute of Social Sciences and Institute of Rural Management in Anand to conduct a socio-economic survey of the impact of Bt cotton, grown in 27 districts of the state. It has allegedly been causing losses of up to Rs. 2000 crore in a bad year, due to a variety of reasons. Clearly,

In a letter written to Union Secretary for Consumer Affairs Avinash Srivastava, IFSF has said the Legal Metrology (Packed Commodities) Amendment Rules 2013 require that every package containing genetically modified food shall bear at the top of its principal display panel the words `GM’. This is not

being adhered to and the government is silent on taking action and fixing liability on violators, IFSF said. GM soybean oil and GM canola oil have been legally permitted to be imported into India by Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC). As per the legal notification these packets should clearly be labeled as ``GM’’, which is not happening in violation of the Indian law. Several prominent canola edible oils are being imported from countries that cultivate transgenic canola, the letter said. Likewise, 95 per cent of India’s cotton cultivation is GM and cottonseed oil being manufactured from it is being used in ``namkeens ’’ and such snacks by branded Indian snack manufactures without any labeling. The Campaign gave names of brands that are using cottonseed oil in their snacks. It said that instead of depending on the importer to declare processed GM food, the government should be pro-active and test such foods entering the country and the food chain in the domestic market so as to not jeopardize health of the citizens.



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ab-grown “clean meat� may become available in India by 2025, allowing consumers to enjoy animal products without supporting inhumane and unsustainable industrial animal agriculture. Clean meat technology is taking the world by storm with even the biggest meat producers are investing in companies developing clean meat. It is time In-

dia begins this understand and bring it in. Animal welfare organisation Humane Society International (HSI) India and the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) in Hyderabad have joined hands to develop lab-grown meat in India.The partnership looks to promote the technology to develop clean meat while bringing start-ups and regulators together

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under the same roof. Internationally, clean meat is predicted to hit the market by the end of 2018. In India, it is expected to be available by 2025. The effort to develop clean meat has emerged due to the unsustainable methods of large-scale industrial animal agriculture. The practices neglect basic animal welfare, and consequently pose a threat to the environment and food



The science of your synthetic supper

Laboratory-grown meat is coming to India, but the question is, are we ready? security. In 2013, the first cultured beef burger (clean meat) was produced and cooked. At that point, the cost of that one patty was $375,000.

which cost about $1300 and Mosa Meat, the company which produced the beef patty has now brought it down to $30 per pound.

However, since then, in the past 5 years, Memphis Meat, a clean meat company founded by Indian origin cardiologist Dr. Uma Valeti has produced meatballs

While the price is still high, research is on across clean meat companies to reduce the cost further by scaling up the production.

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For consumers who have a dietary preference for animal meat clean meat can be consumed, while eliminating the drawbacks of the current meat consumption trends. Clean meat production requires far less land and water than conventional meat production and therefore alleviates reper-



amounts of land, water, fertilizer, oil and other resources to produce meat. So, how do these companies grow clean meat? In a very small nutshell, they take a miniscule biopsy of skeletal muscle-the kind of meat we eat today, isolate some satellite cells—precursors to such skeletal muscle—and start culturing them. Under conditions that approximate what happens inside the animal’s body, the cells begin dividing, and with the power of exponential growth, pretty soon you’ve got actual muscle, grown from the very same cells that would grow muscle in the animal.

cussions of exponential climatic change. The technology obliterates the severe environmental damages resulting from poor waste management prevalent in current farming practices. It does not require antibiotics, produces no bacterial contamination and ensures the welfare of animals. The taste will be the same because clean meat is meat. However, instead of slaughtering an entire animal for different part of its body, the technology in clean meat can develop those parts based on biopsy taken from different parts of the animals’ body. While technology exists to multiply any type of cell, the scaling up of the same in a economically affordable manner as a meat substitute remains a major challenge. The idea, development and implementation As early as 1894, then-famed French chemist Pierre-Eugène Marcellin Berthelot claimed that by 2000, humans would dine on meat grown in a lab rather than from once-living animals.Winston Churchill made a similar prediction in 1931, and the idea became even more popular when Commander Riker revealed to an alien on Star Trek: The Next Generation that the meat humans consume on the USS Enterprise was grown rather than slaughtered.

tow. But it turns out that while it will be a long time before we set off for long-distance cosmic tourism, the technology to create “clean meat” is needed here on Earth far more than it is in outer space. A handful of start-ups are now taking what have solely been medical technologies and applying them to growing animal-agricultural products like meat, milk, eggs and leather. Because these foods require so many fewer resources to produce than raising whole animals, this nascent field of cellular agriculture could do to our present day system of industrial animal agriculture what clean energy is beginning to do to fossil fuels. And the comparison is apt. According to the United Nations, raising animals for food contributes more greenhouse gas emissions than all forms of transportation combined. The climate impact of animal agriculture is staggering, as are the other environmental problems associated with it. “The reality is that it takes massive

Today, these science fiction dreams are starting to become science fact. Actually, it was NASA that led the way to making it so, funding successful research 20 years ago that explored whether long-term astronauts could grow meat—since they of course won’t be hauling Noah’s Ark in

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So far, these clean meat companies are producing only ground meat—hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken nuggets and so on— but they expect to commercialize their products within years, not decades. In addition these meats will also have far fewer food safety problems, as they’re free from the intestinal pathogens like E. coli that plague meat production today. Our ancestors domesticated wild animals into livestock, today companies like Memphis Meats and are beginning to domesticate those animals’ cells. And from one single cell of a cow, you could feed an entire village, offering real hope that we may be able to satiate humanity’s demand for meat without destroying our planet in the process. The history of agriculture has largely been about producing more food with fewer resources. Today, cellular agriculture is offering the capacity to do just that while lightening our footprint on the planet in ways that in the past was always mere science fiction.


35 ars start the debate over halal and kosher compliance of lab-grown food. And to say the halal market is worth 1.6 trillion dollars and the kosher market is valued at 24 billion dollars which makes the debate very interesting. Jew community is very strict with its kosher meat and has strict rules regarding it. Both Islamic and Jewish method of slaughtering animals is similar but Jewish one is stricter.

Manufacturing meat in vitro The science behind growing meat without animals is fairly simple. Growing the cells that form cultured meat is not hugely different from other ‘cell culture’ methods that biologists have used to study cells since the early 1900s. The process starts with a few ‘satellite’ cells, which can be obtained from a small sample of muscle taken from a live animal. These are stem cells that can turn into the different cells found in muscle. Just one cell could, in theory, be used to grow an infinite amount of meat. When fed a nutrient-rich serum, the cells turn into muscle cells and proliferate, doubling in number roughly every few days. After the cells have multiplied, they are encouraged to form strips, much like how muscle cells form fibres in living tissue. These fibres are attached to a sponge-like scaffold that floods the fibres with nutrients and mechanically stretches them, ‘exercising’ the muscle cells to increase their size and protein content. The resulting tissue can then be harvested, seasoned, cooked and consumed as boneless processed meat.

An alternative idea is to encourage shops and restaurants to grow their own meat on a smaller scale. In September 2016, SuperMeat, an Israeli biotech company, launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise $100,000, which they more than doubled, to develop cultured-chicken-growing devices that could be “placed at grocery stores, restaurants, and ultimately in consumer homes”. Another issue is the nutrient-rich ‘serum’ that feeds the cells. Successful serums have been a cocktail of sugars, amino acids and animal blood. Not only are bloodbased serums a source of worry for vegetarians and vegans, but “there would not be enough serum in the world to grow all the cells you need to mass-produce. Cultured meat companies are working on blood-free alternatives – but it’s not simple as there are tens of thousands of different substances in blood and there are a few magical ingredients required for every different cell type.

The challenge is up scaling the process. To grow cells industrially requires a large ‘bioreactor’ – a high-tech vat that can provide the perfect conditions for growth but also the movement and stimulation to exercise the cells.

Social and religious impact on lab grown meat Well many things are said about the Labmeat, some say that in the next 20 years animal slaughter will be total stopped, some say lab meat will be safe and much cheaper for the future generation. But we cannot ignore the cultural, religious and social challenges that this technology has to face.

The largest existing bioreactor capable of doing this has a volume of 25,000 litres (about one-hundredth the size of an Olympic swimming pool), which Post estimates could produce enough meat to feed 10,000 people. It’s likely that many more of these would be needed to make a viable meat-processing plant.

When the world’s first test-tube beef burger was cooked and eaten food critics all asked about its taste. For many Jews, Muslims and Hindus, the first question was whether their faith allowed them to try it. Clean-meat startups are facing a big problem in food markets for religious minorities, as the Muslims and Jews schol-

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Just a few companies are driving the new trend of clean-meat, with the first product expected to hit the market this year, and certifying food products as kosher and halal it has turned to be a big issue. Religious scholars are yet divided over the halal and kosher compliance of these products. Neither imams nor the rabbis have an answer to the cell-grown meat dilemma. This is new to the religions facts and isn’t something you would find in the Quran. Halal meat requires for the animal to be slaughtered with a sharp knife for the blood to be drained and an Islamic prayer called the “Bismillah,” must be said over the animal by the slaughterer, as well. But clean-meat doesn’t involve any slaughtering and blood, basically a practicing Muslims would stay away from this meat for a period of time. Part of the halal process is the animal has to be slaughtered properly, so when you take that aspect away from it kind of makes it more difficult to decipher. International Islamic Fiqh Academy in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, says that in-vitro meat “will not be considered meat from live animals, but will be cultured meat. As long as the cells used are not from pigs, dogs or other animals banned under the halal laws, the meat would be vegetative and “similar to yogurt and fermented pickles. While chief imam at the New Delhi-based All India Imam Organization, call the act of growing beef is unnatural and an experiment with nature that has no benefit. This kind of an artificial preparation is unhealthy at its very core. The prospect of meatless beef has also prompted debate in India, where the Hindu majority shuns steaks and burgers because it considers the cow sacred.


36 Religious websites have been debating the test-tube meat issue for some time now, especially since news about biologist Post’s project began circulating about four years ago. Many Hindus and Sikhs are vegetarians, so several of them posted comments saying they probably wouldn’t like the taste of artificial meat even if it was declared permissible. Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha, a New Delhi-based Hindu nationalist group, says beef grown in a lab would not be acceptable to Hindus. Irrespective of whether the animal is slaughtered or not, consumption of beef in any form is against Hindu tradition as Hindus worship the cow and it holds a sacred status. However, not all Hindu communities are opposed to eating beef. Seventy-two communities in Kerala eat beef openly and regularly and they call themselves Hindu. Agro and food processing insight Cultured meat products will be available by the end of this year in western countries and will be in India by 2025. But the bigger question may be whether people are ready to eat the stuff. Will consumers

drink synthetic milk and eat lab-grown meat, or will they be put off? Genetically modified (GM) foods, for example, are still mistrusted by many. Many Organisations are already preparing the ground for the arrival of in vitro meat, educating people about why we need it. They believe that cultured meat won’t have the same problem that existing meat alternatives face because it is so similar. People will always be extremely sensitive about what is on their plate. Despite the welfare and environmental justifications for cultured meat, the thought of your burger coming from a lab rather than a farm is a strange idea. But if artificial meat lives up to its promise and becomes the environmentally friendly, safer, cheaper, and even tastier way to eat meat, the concept of raising animals in their millions for slaughter could very quickly seem much stranger. Usually the food processing industry is blamed for various things; it is blamed for the reason

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of various diseases prevailed in the world, it is blamed for providing unhealthy food, it blamed for unethical practice of slaughter of farm animal…the list is endless. But when the agro food industry works towards making the environment clean or generate methods to decrease health issues and contribute to the milieu it still is pulled into a controversy. I am not a great advocate for lab food to be honest but if it is to save the nature, the environment I am all for it. And people who have issues should come about it with other alternatives. As we can see the earth is being destroyed due to our own negligence. It is now our duty to correct all the wrong done.

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he Environment Department of the Government of Maharashtra has recently issued the Maharashtra Plastic and Thermocol Products (Manufacture, Usage, Sale, Transport, Handling and Storage) Notification, 2018 (“Plastic Ban Notification�) through which the manufacture, transport, distribution, wholesale and retail sale, usage, storage and import of certain plastic products has been prohibited. The Plastic Ban Notification has been issued by the Government of Maharashtra by virtue of the powers derived from clauses (1) and (2)

of section 4 of the Maharashtra Non-Biodegradable Garbage (Control) Act, 2006. The reason cited for imposing a ban on such plastic products is the threat imposed on the environment due to the leaching of chemicals from plastic and the threat it imposes on humans and wildlife. Such prohibited products are those which contain high polymer and include plastic bags and pouches, disposable cutlery, plates and containers made of plastic and thermocol, non-woven polypropylene bags, plastic wraps, plastic and thermocol

Agro & Food Processing April 2018

decorative items and plastic packaging for food items besides others. While the Plastic Ban Notification seeks to regulate all kinds of plastic products, it excludes compostable plastic bag, plastic used for packing medicines, plastic bags and products for export and food grade virgin plastic bags above 50 micron thickness. The Government of Maharashtra has issued the aforesaid Plastic Ban Notification on 23rd March thereby providing a one month period for compliance and safe disposal of the banned plastic products by



Feasibility of Plastic Ban in Maharashtra

all concerned including manufacturers/ producers, sellers/ retailers/ traders, users as well as local bodies. However in its recent order state government extended compliance period for three months. Thereafter as per the powers provided under section 12 of the Maharashtra Non-Biodegradable Garbage (Control) Act, 2006 fines may be imposed on the violators. Earlier in September, state ministers met Maharashtra Pollution Control Board member (MPCB) secretary PN Anbalag-

an at Mantralaya and proposed a blanket ban on plastic bags from GudiPadwa, Maharashtrian New Year, on March 18, 2018. An estimated 20 million tonnes of plastic is used daily life, with at least 50,000 units engaged in this and 4 million people being dependent on this industry. These include units engaged in re- processing of plastic material. “India has plastic use of 18 kg per head. In America, it is 109 kg per head and despite the huge

Agro & Food Processing April 2018

consumption, one cannot find a piece plastic of it on its roads. The average use of plastic the world over is 30 kg per head and no country has banned their use,” argued Ravi Jashnani, president, Maharashtra Plastic Manufacturing Association. “We are exploring Latin American markets with our value added products, including medical equipment, laminates, packaging products and others, which possess vast potential due to the low cost of production here. India’s plastics exports contribute less than 1 per cent of the



billion SUPBs per year, these figures indicate that as much as 50 million plastic bags become litter during that time period, nationwide. • Plastic bags are manufactured from fossil fuels. Plastic bag life cycles are greenhouse gas intensive on the front end due primarily to the use of fossil fuels in their production. • Plastic bag marine pollution. 80 percent of marine debris originates from land sources, 60-80 percent of which are plastics, according to a major assessment by the United Nations Environment Programme.

world market at $7.56 billion. This can go up through government support,” said Ashok Basak, chairman, of the Plastics Export Promotion Council. BACKGROUND The Rise of Plastics Plastics have become increasingly popular for industrial and consumer uses since their emergence in the 1940s. The volume of plastic manufactured each year continues to rise rapidly, with the quantity produced in the first decade of the 21st century approaching the total produced during the entire century prior. Today, approximately 260 million tons of plastics are produced for various purposes worldwide on an annual basis. The Rise of Single-Use Plastic Bags SUPBs are defined in the literature as recyclable high-density polyethylene (HDPE) bags designed to be used once. SUPBs rose to popularity for use in retail venues in the 1970s and remain the most popular grocery bag choice for American consumers where bans are not in place. Today, 500 billion to 1.5 trillion SUPBs are used annually around the world, with at least 100 billion of those used in the United States. Note that the US figure is for single-use plastic shopping bags, which PBBs are largely designed to mitigate; the total number of plastic bags consumed in the US is closer to 380 billion annually. Of these, an estimated 20 billion were consumed annually in California in the early 2000s, with that number declining to roughly 14 billion in 2012 estimates.

The average number of SUPBs used by each Californian who resides in municipalities without PBBs is 550 per year. The Problem with Plastics Primary concerns with the global prevalence of plastic bags include: • Plastic bags persist for a long time: Plastic bags can last for up to 1000 years. The vast majority of this life cycle is spent in the end-of-life phase, either in a landfill or as litter in the environment. A plastic bag’s extensive lifespan is the direct result of plastic’s immunity to biodegradation. Plastics instead photodegrade1 over time, releasing any toxic additives they contain. In a landfill, these can leach out over time. In the environment, these can harm ecosystems. • Plastic bags in the waste stream: A study performed by the California Integrated Waste Management Board found that plastics of all types comprise nearly 10 per cent of California’s disposed waste stream. Of this, plastic bags account for 0.3 percent of the total waste stream. Plastic grocery bags specifically make up 0.13 percent of the total waste stream. • Plastic bag litter: While figures vary depending on the study, proportions of litter comprised of plastic bags are found to fall between 0.9 and 5 percent. 16 If the US consumes 100

Agro & Food Processing April 2018

UNEP noted that plastic marine debris dispelled almost anywhere poses a global pollution problem due to its portability in ocean currents and long lifespan. Plastics have been reported to negatively impact between 180 and 660 species of animals, including birds, fish, turtles, and marine mammals, with a portion of these plastics presumably comprised of plastic bags. Marine animals confuse plastic bags for food, which can lead to blocked digestive tracts and eventual death. LAWS TO REGULATE PLASTIC Maharashtra is the eighteenth state in India to have imposed a ban on plastic. However, it is one of the earlier states to have contemplated regulation of the use of plastic and this is why it had enacted the Maharashtra Non-Biodegradable Garbage (Control) Act, 2006. The Plastic Ban Notification is an extension of the earlier statute of 2006 as power to issue the notification has been derived from it. Interestingly, the 2006 statute was enacted to regulate the use of non-biodegradable material like plastic but it did not seem to have achieved its purpose. The Central Government came up with the Plastic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011 to regulate the handling and disposal of plastic waste in In-


obtaining clearance of the Central pollution Control Board (CPCB).

dia. This law was further revised in 2016 through the Plastic Waste Management Rules 2016 (“Plastic Rules 2016”) which provided for the increase in thickness of plastic sheets and carry bags from 40 to 50 microns; Extended Producer’s Responsibility (“EPR”) which would ensure a system of collecting back plastic waste; phasing out non-recyclable multi-layered plastic; laying down the responsibilities of the plastic waste generators, local bodies, retailers and street vendors; concept of pre-registration fee for those providing plastic bags and ways of utilizing plastic waste. Which products will be covered under the ban? Products manufactured from plastic and thermocol (polystyrene) like disposable dish or bowl, cups, plates, glasses, fork, spoons, containers, straw, non-woven polypropene bags, pouches and all of which are commonly used for packaging food items including liquids and food grains or to wrap or store products safely, will no longer be permitted to be used in the state. Which products are not banned? Plastic bags or plastic material used for packaging medicines and drugs have been exempted from this ban. Similarly, food grade virgin plastic bags for packaging milk, bags of thickness less than 50 microns have been permitted to remain in use. However, the manufacturers of these milk pouches, will now on, have to mandatorily print the buy-back price of not less than 50 paise on them, aimed at promoting recycling system in the society.

How can these banned plastic bags be returned? The state government has estimated it will take a period of three months, by June 2018, to set up a collection mechanism, where all these products will be collected at one place for further safe disposal treatments. While this project is in its initial phases, by June-end, it is supposed to be operational in multiple centres. Once the system is set up and made operational, used plastic bags and milk pouches will be routinely collected either by milk dairies, retail sellers, traders or shopkeepers. They will buy these used bags at a buyback amount printed on the respective bags. Alternatively, the government has asked milk dairies and manufacturers in the state to supply milk in glass bottles or other environment-friendly packaging products. Until when can the banned products be returned? The government has laid down a time period of one month for the return of banned products from the date the regulation came into effect: March 23, 2018. Accordingly, all these banned items need to be either sold outside the state, sold to authorised recyclers or industries dealing in safe disposals, or handed over to the local body within one month. In short, individual custodians of these banned products, manufacturers or pro-

Apart from this, the government is encouraging and permitting the use of compostable packaging bags usually used to store plants which are used in nurseries, for horticulture and agriculture purposes. Manufacturers of these eco-friendly bags would have to specifically print ‘use exclusively for special purpose only’ after

Agro & Food Processing April 2018

41 ducers of plastic items, sellers, retailers and traders need to check out the most feasible option for safe disposal. In order to carry out this mammoth task, the state government has ordered all local bodies to arrange for collection and transportation of these banned products or plastic waste to either authorised recyclers or industries involved in scientific disposal during the one-month period since the ban was imposed. Who will implement and monitor the ban? Officials from Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) and district and local administration have been authorised to implement it. For regulating this law at tourist locations, tourism police, or Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation has been made responsible. Plastic companies move Bombay High Court against ban The Mumbai Plastic Manufacturer’s Association (MPMA) has decided to move Bombay High Court against the ‘discriminatory’ plastic ban imposed by the Maharashtra government. The state government’s directive was to ban the use of plastics in polypropylene bags used in packaging of liquids, food items and food grains. The order does not cover plastics in laminated multi-layered packaging material, which is used by manufacturers of chips and other food items. Many found the decision strange since normal plastic bags are generally recycled and multi-layered plastic packaging material is not, as it has subtracts of various non-recyclable materials.


42 Chips and other snacks, shampoo sachets, and tobacco products are all packaged using multi-layered plastic. According to reports, the government approved the plastic ban unilaterally, without having a discussion with the relevant stakeholders. The MPMA had then petitioned the court that all the parties involved must be heard before the government comes to a decision on the ban, but that did not happen. “There’s no rational thinking behind the ban. They had initially said that all plastics would be banned, but facing the heat from the MNCs which sell packaged drinking water and cold drinks, the state kept out PET bottles from the ambit of the ban, and that’s why they had also kept out multi-layered packaging used in packing of snacks,” Neemit Punamiya, General Secretary of Plastic Bag Manufacturer’s Association of India (PBMAI), said. The Maharashtra government is scheduled to meet with plastic manufacturers over the next few days to discuss the matter, and ways in which it could be taken forward. Government lifts ban on plastic bottle Fadnavis government has decided to lift the plastic ban on small PET and PETE bottles with capacity of less than half litre. However, it has made installation of vending and crushing machines necessary at starred hotels, malls, tourist places and public places across the state. This means that all starred hotels will have to install crushing machines for using PET and PETE bottles in bulk. Similarly, it will be mandatory for big malls to have vending

out handle), single use disposable items made of plastic and thermocol — dish, cups, plates, glasses, fork, bowls, forks, spoons, straw, containers, non-woven

machines for collecting used plastic bottles under the depository buyback scheme. The manufacturers of PET bottles will also have to install vending and crushing machines at tourist and public places, senior officials from the state environment department said. However, people will have to pay Rs. 2 extra for using each small PET and PETE bottles having capacity of less than half litre under the depository buyback scheme. The money would be refunded to the consumer in case he or she returns the plastic bottle to the shopkeeper or to the vending machine. Furthermore, the state has also decided to give extension of another two months to people for disposing of the banned plastic items. Thus, implementing authorities cannot start any punitive action against the offenders till June 23. The notification to this effect is likely to be issued by Thursday, officials said. According to the Maharashtra Plastic and Thermocol Products (Manufacture, Usage, Sale, Transport, Handling and Storage) Notification, 2018 on March 23, the government had banned manufacture, usage, storage, distribution, wholesale or retail sale, import and transportation of all kinds of plastic bags (with or with

Agro & Food Processing April 2018

polypropylene bags, pouches to store liquid, plastic to wrap or store products and packaging of food items and small PET and PETE bottles having capacity of less than half litre, across the state. The state government also declared a fine of Rs. 5000 and Rs. 10000 respectively for first and second time offence. A thirdtime offender will be fined Rs. 25000 and three months imprisonment. “The manufacturers, distributors, hotels and malls owners have to set up complete system of recollection and recycling of bottles in the next three months failing which the government may reconsider its decision,” said a senior official. They will have to ensure that the buyback scheme is working effectively through shopkeepers and vending machine across the state, he added. Maharashtra government earmarks Rs. 10 cr on publicity blitz for plastic ban The state government will be spending Rs. 10 crore on the publicity aimed to create awareness for the effective implementation of the ban on plastic carry bags and thermocol cutlery. Of the Rs. 10 crore, the state government has already transferred Rs. 3.28 crore to the regulator Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) through a notification dated March 28 to start publicity in the print and electronic media. An officer from the state publicity department said, “The directorate general of information and public relations has put in place a comprehensive publicity plan to be launched across the state. The objective is not only to create further awareness but also mobilize support of the members of the public to achieve complete ban on


plastic carry bag and thermocol cutlery. Maharashtra has become the 18th state of the country to impose such ban.’’ He informed that the publicity campaign will focus on ill-effects of plastic and how the ban was necessary in the larger interest of environment conservation. The officer said that the ad blitzkrieg will list out products which are banned and those not yet banned. Besides, information at length will be given about the collection and disposal mechanism. The state government has ordered all local bodies to arrange for the collection and transportation of these banned products or plastic waste to either authorized recyclers or industries involved in scientific disposal during the one-month period since the ban was imposed. In case of producers, the government has already clarified that all banned items need to be either sold outside the state, sold to authorized recyclers or industries dealing in safe disposals, or handed over to the local body within one month. More importantly, plastic producers and users will also be made aware of the nature of penalty and punitive action in case of non-compliance. Economic effect of states’s plastic ban Plastics ban in Maharashtra is expected to lead to a GST loss of Rs. 800 crore, according to the All India Plastics Manufacturers’ Association (AIPMA). The Association has been opposing the ban. With Maharashtra producing plastic products worth Rs. 50,000 crore, the ban will mostly affect SME players. Addressing a press conference, HitenBheda, President, AIPMA said, “The MSME and SME segment are have already been

impacted by GST and demonetisation and now the ban is expected to cripple their business further. About 2,150 units industrial units may be closed down due to the ban. The banned products alone would be about Rs.5,000 crore.” In Maharashtra, plastics contribute about 35 per cent to the State’s GDP. “About 60 per cent of the plastics can be recycled, of which 95 per cent comprises PET bottles. We expect the GST revenue from the sales of disposable plastic items which are subject to the ban would amount to Rs.800 crore,” he added. In fact, Maharashtra is the only State where there is ban on PET bottles below 500 ml. The AIPMA claimed the industry employed about 4 lakh people in the State. “The plastics industry is becoming increasingly important for facilitating sound infrastructure in a sustainable manner. The sector has huge unrealised potential, which will remain unexplored if the ban were to be imposed. The government and the plastics industry should come together instead and tackle waste management in the State,” he added. Plastic ban may render 3 lakh people jobless The plastic ban order of the Maharashtra government is likely to make nearly 300,000 people jobless as industry urged the government to come out with a solution, an industry official said in Mumbai. “The ban on plastic bags has derailed the production, packaging and supply schedules of grains, bakery and clothing industries. Many units are on the verge of closure in the absence of basic packaging material, plastic bags and we fear that nearly 300,000 people employed may become jobless. We urged the Maharashtra government to come out

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43 with a solution to save the industry,” Maharashtra Chamber of Commerce and Industry Vice-President Lalit Gandhi told reporters. “We met and petitioned the minister for environment Ram Das Kadam yesterday and sought waiver on packaging material till alternatives are identified and made available” Gandhi said. We have urged the Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis to treat food grains and all food items including fruits and vegetables at par with milk and extend the repository (50 paisa per bag) scheme on them. Failure to act immediately will cause untold misery to all. This may not yield commensurate gains to the environment as envisioned by the plastic ban notification, Gandhi said. “The Bombay high court has directed the Maharashtra government to file its reply by 9 April and hopefully will rule on our petition seeking a stay on this ban on 11 April”, Maharashtra Plastic Manufacturers Association vice-president Ravi Jasnani said. Companies moving towards alternatives After blanket ban of plastic usage, organized retailers are mulling ways of going a step beyond—rolling out a zero-plastic policy in their stores across India. Grofers India, Godrej Nature’s Basket (GNB) and Avenue Supermarts Ltd, which operates the D-Mart chain, are pre-empting deep repercussions from the ban by moving towards alternatives and doing it swiftly. “By the end of April, we will be a zero-plastic organization across all our locations. We have already completed 60-70% (of the transition),” said AlbinderDhindsa, co-founder and chief executive of Grofers. Karnataka and Maharashtra account for close to 70% of D-Mart’s operations, and with these states enforcing the plas-


44 tic ban, India’s largest listed supermarket chain has also become plastic-free at 70% of its operations. “We are mulling going plastic-free across all our retail stores. However, we are facing constraints on supply,” said chief executive and managing director Neville Noronha. At Godrej Nature’s Basket, which has 29 stores across three cities, the switchover started last year in Bengaluru as Karnataka had implemented the plastic ban prior to Maharashtra. “We were anyway planning to go ahead with no plastic across our stores and were in talks with our partners and vendors to come on board,” said CEO AvniDavda. Already, major stores like Future Group’s Foodhall and smaller local grocery shops have started offering cloth bags to customers, costing Rs. 20-110, while battling to keep up with the sudden rise in demand. Godrej Nature’s Basket now uses a mix of cloth and paper bags instead of plastic. The experience and the impact of going plastic-free are different for Grofers and D-Mart. At Grofers, as the company does the last-mile delivery, the move from plastic and even cartons to reusable crates has reduced the packaging cost per order from Rs.15-18 to Rs.2-3. This includes

brown paper bags, tape and bubble wrap on some glass items, said Dhindsa. At D-Mart, the cost of providing biodegradable “plastic” in the fresh supplies section has increased threefold, which the firm is currently absorbing. Meanwhile, in the billing section, they offer consumers the choice of buying cloth bags at Rs.15-20, on which D-Mart is probably losing some money, said Noronha. However, overall consumption of plastic has fallen 88% over the last three-four years since the time the retailer started charging for plastic bags. “Over half our consumers carry their own bags, and as we have stopped selling plastic bags— even this has further halved,” added Noronha.

buy these bags—sold for Rs. 20, subject to bargains—in case they don’t have their own. “We need to find solutions and the industry has to be given time to make the change,” said Piruz Khambatta, chairman of the Confederation of Indian Industry Western Region and chairman and managing director of Rasna Pvt. Ltd. But business needs to go on for the others. “We prepared for the switchover in a similar manner to how we prepare for the festive season. However, the end objective was different this time,” said Davda.

The cloth bags at Godrej Nature’s Basket are reusable and come at a charge, Davda said, adding that additional expenses such as higher cost of paper bags are being absorbed by the company.

Conclusion At a time when the State government is trying to attract the investors, chemical industry is planning its shifting to other states after blanket ban claiming that the ban will put an adverse effect as plastic bags manufacturing is totally stopped which is one third of their business. Thousands of chemical manufacturing units have cut production by 20-25 per cent.

In the unorganized sector too, shoppers and shopkeepers are adapting. In the vegetable market opposite Mumbai’s Grant Road station, conveniently named BhajiGali, bundles of cloth bags can be seen hanging from several stores. Shopkeepers say they encourage customers to

Plastic bag bans reduce trash and litter, and therefore reduce the negative impacts caused by trash and litter. Plastic bag bans save municipalities money by way of less trash to pick up. Bans can also save retailers time and money since they no longer need to provide plastic bags. India’s 1st News Portal for Agro, Food Processing & Allied Segments

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Agro & Food Processing April 2018



Govt approves removal of export restrain on edible oils An official said, mustard oil will continue to be exported only in buyer packs of up to 5 kgs and with a minimum export price of USD 900 per tonne.


move taken by the government to remove prohibition on export of all varieties of edible oils apart from mustard oil, it is expected to boost shipments of the product. Removing of margins on export of all edible oils is likely to provide additional marketing avenues for edible oils and oilseeds and will advantage the farmers by way of better realization for oilseeds.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The government has also empowered a committee, chaired by Secretary, Department of Food and Public Distribution, to review the export and import policy on all varieties of edible oils and consider measures such as quantitative restrictions, prior registration, imposition of minimum export price (MEP) and changes in import duties depending on domestic production

and demand, domestic and international prices and global trade volumes.The committee also includes secretaries from departments of commerce, agriculture, revenue, consumer affairs and the director general of foreign trade. The statement added that the inter-ministerial committee, headed by Commerce Secretary, mandated to review the export of edible oils in consumer packs and calibrate MEP from time to time, has been discontinued. The production of oilseeds in 2016-17 has recorded a significant jump in comparison to past two years. “It is expected that the production of oilseeds in 2017-18 is going to sustain at the same levels,� it added. Only certain edible oils can be exported in bulk and other oils only in consumer packs up to 5 kg with MEP.

14 per cent hike on import taxes of edible oil


o lift oilseed prices and support domestic supply from crushing, government raised import tax on crude and refined palm oil to the highest level in more than a decade in India. With this move country tried to support local farmers, helping cap edible oil imports in the 2017-18 marketing year. According to report, government raised 14 per cent up on vegetable oil from 30 per cent to 44 per cent while tax on refined palm oil to 54 per cent from 40 per cent. The country relies on imports for 70 per cent of its edible oil consumption. It is the fourth increase in import tax in less than six months that would push up domestic edible oil prices and support prices of local oilseeds like soybean and rapeseed. Domestic requirement of edible oil in the country around 25 million MT, the total production of the same is just about nine million MT. The entire gap is being met through imports which amount to approximately Rs. 70,000 to Rs. 75,000 crore per annum.

Palm oil at present constitutes 70 per cent of the vegetable oil imports and is one of the lowest priced due to high productivity per hectare. The policy objectives should be to balance the interests of growers and consumers alike. At the same time the policy must ensure that poor consumers have access to cooking oil at affordable prices. Clearly, liberal policies or free market operations of the last quarter of a century in the country have failed to protect domestic growers in so far as the oilseeds and veg oil sector is concerned. It is time we looked at the familiar vegetable oil sector from unfamiliar angles. First of all, there must a ceiling on the volume of imported edible oil. There is reason to believe that private trade imports excessive quantities for speculative purposes and floods the domestic market which in turn depresses domestic oilseed prices. A reasonable guess would be that up to 15 per cent of the current import volume is speculation driven and often it represents not genuine sale but stock transfer from

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the origin (Indonesia, Malaysia) to the destination market (India). Huge inventories (as much as two million tons) are often piled up in India which in turn depresses the domestic market. A ceiling on veg oil import (with a provision to review it every six months, depending on the exigencies of the situation) will reduce the quantum of arrivals and support domestic producers. Imports have to be monitored in terms of registration of contracts and tracking of arrivals. There is a long credit period for importers which encourages over-trading and fosters an unending loop of imports. Reducing the credit period can make a difference. In addition to dynamic changes in tariff values as practised at present, import duties should be varied dynamically so that imported oils are not cheaper than the MSP for domestic oils. Unless the government keeps the consumer in mind in making the policies, the undernourished families would continue to suffer.



Agri Leadership Summit in Rohtak


session, Dr. Likhi added, a brief presentation on Haryana’s Industrial Promotion Policy shall be given by Principal Secretary of Industries and Commerce Department Sudhir Rajpal.

he round table conference was held at Mela Ground in Rohtak. More than 50 foreign delegates from various countries visited the third Agri Leadership Summit, 2018 Principal Secretary of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Department Abhilaksh Likhi announced. Among those who attended the summit included Minister Economic from Nepal Krishna Hari Pushkar, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Mongolia Gonchig Ganbold, Agriculture Attache, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supplies Dalci de Jesus Banolin, Counsellor from Spain Dr. Teresa Barras Benlloch and delegates from Zambia, New Zealand, Canada, Namibia, Germany, Uzbekistan, Georgia, Belgium, Ethiopia, Netherlands and Russia. Agriculture Minister OP Dhankar and Principal Secretary (Agriculture) said, “Haryana has 90

lakh acres of agricultural land. The state supplies 14 crore quintals of food grains to other states after meeting its own requirements. We have to convert agriculture sector to agriculture service by use of improved technology. We need to work collectively on challenges like climate change, water scarcity and soil health. We have to work together to deliver good nutrient food to people.” Dr. Rasha Omar, Country Head IFAD (UN) moderated the

During the round table, discussions will be held on the experience of Haryana in developing the Agriculture and Agri Business sectors, global practices in the sector of agribusiness development and main opportunities for international investment in the Agri-Marketing, AgriBusiness, Agri-Industry and Food Processing sectors for higher economic growth, employment and farmers’ incomes. Expressing satisfaction at the success of the Agri Leadership Summit, Dhankar said more than 1.60 lakh farmers had visited Rohtak in the past three days.

New wheat varieties could allow high fiber claims


rcadia Biosciences, Inc. has developed new wheat varieties that may contain enough fiber to qualify for on-pack fiber claims under Food and Drug Administration rules. The wheat contains up to 94per cent amylose, a carbohydrate molecule that is resistant to digestion. The ingredient is a resistant starch, which acts as a prebiotic, meaning it is digested slowly and feeds the so-called “good bacteria” in the gut. Ordinary wheat contains about 25-30 per cent amylose.

The company says it is working with food manufacturers to incorporate the wheat into reformulated products to boost their fiber content, and plans to increase the number of acres planted with the wheat in the coming growing season. Arcadia Biosciences says its new wheat varieties help answer demand for more natural, clean label packaged foods that also have the health benefits of dietary fiber and resistant starch. Resistant starch is an important component of dietary fi-

ber, and research has shown it may contribute to digestive health, protect against the damage that precedes bowel cancer, and help prevent type 2 diabetes. For food companies, dietary fiber that is present in the grain itself means there’s no need to add fiber to their products – a clear benefit for manufacturers eager to take advantage of consumer interest in fiber as well as the desire for shorter ingredient lists.

India’s Rs. 2,600-crore organic food industry to get credibility boost


ndian’s organic food industry is worth Rs. 2,600-crore and now will get a credibility boost from July, when standards and certification norms will kick in, helping to bridge a trust deficit for its produce among foreign buyers, mainly those in the US, Europe and China. Also the trade is seeking exemption from the goods and services tax to narrow the vast

difference in prices between conventional and organic products. Domestic growers of organic food have been demanding strict implementation of certification norms and penalties to prevent companies from selling poor quality products. Strict norms will bring in more trust of foreign buyers, as the traceability of or-

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ganic products is not very well established and hence some companies with vested interests take advantage and start supplying conventional products in the garb of organic products. This has created a trust deficit among buyers and consumers.



Assam to set up agri processing centres


o minimize wastage of agricultural and horticultural produce, while also providing raw materials to food processing industries, The Assam government is working on a proposal to set up primary processing centres at sourcing points. The theme of the conclave was “Focus Assam - The Future Food Basket of India”. Chief Secretary to the state depart-

ment of industries and commerce Ravi Capoor said at the Food Processing Conclave organized by CII in association with the Union Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MOFPI).” These centres will be a major attraction for prospective investors as the state has an advantage in at least 8-10 key products such as bay leaf, banana, oranges and finest turmeric.” He also expressed confidence that the conclave will help facilitate market linkages between farmer producer companies and retail chain and big corporates. Agriculture Production Commissioner K.K. Mittal said that new policies will encourage prospective investors to put their money in the north eastern region.

Neelima Dwivedi, Vice President - Pepsico India Holding Private Ltd said that given the rolling demand for processed foods, there is a tremendous opportunity for growth in the sector. Currently, less than 4 per cent of India’s agricultural produces is processed, while in countries such as Brazil, China and Indonesia, the percentages are 70, 23 and 50, respectively, she added. Low yield, inadequate infrastructure and absence of market linkages for farmers are the major impediments to growth of the sector, Dwivedi added. The conclave, ‘Focus Assam, The Future Food Basket of India’ saw deliberations in two technical sessions on value addition and technology intervention and central and state government schemes and market linkage.

Indian Govt trying to keep wheat price steady


ndia is trying to keep local wheat price steady until farmers sell their wheat crops. Central government has dropped a plan to double a wheat import tax to 40 per cent, sources said; it expects imports to make up for a shortfall in domestic production for the third year in a row. Sources said that the three concerned ministries have decided against raising the tariff for now.

a New Delhi-based analyst said, “We can now conclude that production will be less than expected, and in my view, it’s going to somewhere between 91-92 million tonnes”. The farm ministry forecast that this year’s harvest would reach 97.11 million tonnes against a target of 98.51 million tonnes. Local media quoted officials as saying output would even cross 100 million tonnes.

The food, trade and finance ministries were considering hiking the tax to ensure that local prices remained stable and millions of domestic farmers got good returns for their harvest. Tejinder Narang

Wheat demand in India, the world’s second-biggest producer and consumer of the grain, is estimated at about 100 million tonnes, with consumption rising by 1-1.5 per cent a year. Traders said it was

too early to accurately pin down India’s wheat imports this year, but most said they believed it could be between 2-4 million tonnes with the rest of the demand being met by stocks. Indian flour millers imported nearly 2 million tonnes of wheat last year and 6.5 million tonnes in 2016. Purchases by India could sustain the benchmark Chicago price that hovered. Most import cargoes are booked by flour millers near port cities in the southern parts of India, as they find it cheaper to buy from Australia, Russia and Ukraine.

High expectations for India soybean imports


rade sources said more buying of soybean is expected as the India’s soybean imports have hit a record high this year and as domestic supplies tighten following lower production last year. India’s soybean imports have never previously approached 100,000 tonnes. Deals have been signed by the traders to sell up to 100,00 tonnes of soybean to India since December, that is mostly shipping from the African countries of

Ethiopia and Benin with which the South Asian nation has concessional import duty agreements.

lowers domestic crops tightens supplies the interest to buy soybean has risen, since December.

The soybean deals were signed at $450 to $520 at tonne that were delivered to Indian ports, a grains broker told Reuters on the sidelines of an international grains event in Singapore. Soybeans in India are quoted at $580 to $600 a tonne.

8.3 million to 8.5 million tonnes of soybeans has been produced in India at the end of 2017, down from more than 11 million tonnes a year ago.

“Last year people imported beans but volumes were small,” the broker said, as the

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Sandeep Bajoria, Mumbai based edible oil broker said.”It is for the first time ever that India is buying beans in such volumes and imports are expected to continue” .



Better pricing mechanism for sugarcane


n order to increase opportunities in food processing sector and farmers earning AIDMK, led Tamil Nadu government announced new policies to boost the agricultural sector. The new policy initiatives will include direct procurement of pulses by the government, integrating animal husbandry, agriculture, horticulture and fisheries, and replacing the state support price for sugarcane with a revenue sharing formula over and above the fair price prescribed by the government. Major sugar producing states like Maharashtra and Karnataka have already moved to the revenue sharing formula based on Dr. Rangarajan

Committee’s recommendations. The sugar industry is cyclical in nature and is currently going through an extended phase of distress due to a range of factors like failure of monsoons, varietal degeneration, reduced recovery, and decline in area under cultivation and the resultant reduction in capacity utilisation of sugar mills. In turn, it has affected timely payments to farmers. The new pricing mechanism will come into effect in the current season itself. “To facilitate this transition, the state government will protect the interests of farmers by assuring them of the present SAP of Rs.2,750 per metric tonne excluding transportation cost of Rs. 100, by paying the difference between the present SAP and the price received under a new revenue sharing formula as transitional production incentive directly to the farmers. The sugar industries shall however continue to bear the transportation costs,”

said finance minister O Panneerselvam. He has earmarked Rs. 200 crore in the budget towards the transitional production incentive for next year. About 55,000 acres of sugarcane field will be covered under the new scheme next fiscal. Another major initiative is to increase production and do direct procurement of pulses through Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies Corporation. During 2017-18, intensive pulses production programme was promoted through village clusters and about 85,000 hectare was additionally brought under pulses cultivation. Combined with these, a string of food processing parks would come up in many districts to reduce wastage of farm produce like vegetables, fisheries, diary, poultry and meat. It would also help value addition. While farmers’ organisations have welcomed the government’s decision to procure pulses, they said unless the dues of Rs. 1,460 crore that sugar mills owe to farmers was cleared, sugarcane farmers’ sufferings would not end.

Export boost from facilitation centre


xport facilitation centre of Maharashtra State Agricultural Marketing Board (MSAMB) have been exceptionally excellent business boost greatly at export centres.

facilitation centre. This centre’s are at presently being run by a group of farmer’s and exporters

According to reports business in last three months is on its peak. All 21 centers have witnessed processing of agricultural supplies worth Rs 26.55 crore and the total quantum of produce exported from the centres stood at 2,761.41 tonne. Over the last few months, the Board has taken initiatives to help farmers boost avenues for marketing. The special marketing agents have been appointed in major markets outside Maharashtra. These agents will be working on identifying the essential trade channels required to help farmers from Maharashtra to gain a grip there. Other than the export facilitation centers, the Board runs fruits and vegetables centres as well as a flower

on a private public partnership model. Sunil Pawar, Managing Director of the MSAMB, said “most of the commodities processed at the centres were headed to Germany, Netherlands, Thailand, Doha, and USA. Grapes, roses, pomegranate, spices, animal fodder etc were the main produce handled in these centres”. Known as the fruit bowl of India, the major produce

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from the state includes grapes, mangoes and pomegranates. Also the regions of Pune, Nashik, Satara, Kolhapur, Sangli are known for their extensive vegetable cultivation. Just about 1.2 per cent of fruits and vegetables are processed in the state with the majority being consumed fresh. When it comes to fresh agri produce, reports recommended that the state records are consumption of 30 per cent of the produce. The state annually produces 204 lakh tonne of fresh produce of which 30 per cent is consumed in handling and storage. The combined ability of these centres is around 1,000 tonne. In the last three months the produce worth Rs. 1.88 crore was processed in these centres for sale in cities like Mumbai, Pune, Delhi and Bengaluru.



Organic apples from Wenatchee to India


rganic apples were introduced in India for the first time by IG International Wenatchee USA. They committed to bring a wide variety of fruits from across the globe to Indian consumers. The apples are imported by the company through its associates coming from the mountains where the apples are grown. IG international aims to provide organic fruits and vegetables to the health conscious consumers, as consumers seek to buy more organic and healthy fruits and veggies. Organic fruits are loved for their consistent sweetness up to the core of the fruit, unlike chemically ripened fruits. Over this year in take of apples in India has risen considerably. Apples are favourite among the health conscious and fitness enthusiasts. After bananas apple are the most consumed fruit in India. Consumption of apples in the country is estimated at 2.24 MMT in MY 2017/18, up from 2.23 MMT the previous year. India’s eating of international varieties of apples has also risen significantly over the years. The Organic Fruit consumption constituting of 52 per cent of total organic food products in India, demand for Organic


Apples has also gone up significantly. Organic apples from IG International will be available at retail outlets across India. Tarun Arora, Director, IG International Pvt. Ltd said, “With the launch of organic apples, we further emphasize on importance of healthy eating and want to convey that ‘fruits are the best snacks’. Organic fruits have picked interest from fruit lovers in the country and by launching the best of Organic Apples, we have delivered what the consumers want. Our collaboration with Stemilt has been a magnificent success and enabled us to bring variety of fruits to the consumers in India so far. We value our association with Stemilt and aim to work together with them to bring diverse variety of fruits to the consumers in India.” William P. Young, Sr. Export Account Manager, Stemilt Growers further added, “Organic apples are very popular offering from us and we are proud to bring it to

Indian consumers. Like many other coun -tries, India has emerged as a sizable market for organic produce and we are working towards satisfying the growing demand. We are fortunate to have a partner in IG International that will enable us to take our products to wider audience in the country.” As the organic farming are known for yielding healthier produce and leaving more productive soil for the future crops. It is integrated farming system that strives for sustainability, enhancement of soil fertility and biological diversity, and excludes use of synthetic inputs into the farming process.

UP Govt approves private investment

ttar Pradesh (UP) government has decided to take major agro reforms action and go for the state’s organised farm produce market estimated at over Rs. 600 billion for private investment and participation. The Adityanath cabinet has approved amendment to UP Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act, 1964 allowing the setting up of private mandis to give competition to the government-run mandis operated by UP Mandi Parishad. The amendment would allow private companies set up procurement markets/ centres outside the periphery of existing mandis for direct purchase of farm produce from the farmers. This is aimed at giving more selling options to farmers for getting better prices for agro produce. Besides, there is also the provision of according mandi status to designated agro warehouses, silos and cold storages. Currently, the aggregate turnover at all the 250 mandis operated by UP Mandi Parishad across the 75 districts is pegged at about Rs. 600 billion.

at the local level, impairing the bargaining power of farmers. At the recent UP Investors Summit 2018 in Lucknow, the Adityanath government had received 236 proposals from companies evincing interest to invest Rs. 187 billion in the agro and food processing sector. The APMC Act amendment would further boost this sector and attract even greater private investment in future. UP is among the top agricultural and horticultural producers in India and its annual food grain production alone is in excess of 50 million tonnes (MT) with the two major corps viz. wheat and paddy covered under the minimum support price (MSP) mechanism. Considering this humongous quantum of food grain production, apart from other horticultural, including both fruits and vegetables, the actual annual turnover of the state’s farm produce is estimated at several times the volumes clocked by the Mandi Parishad, since a substantial quantity never reaches these mandis and transactions take place

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Besides, the amendment to the APMC Act would be the initial groundwork towards allowing contract farming in UP, which would open another lucrative gateway for farmers. UP’s sloppy government controlled agricultural marketing/procurement system has long been blamed for low procurement of wheat and paddy compared to total production over successive years. The proposed amendment would also boost the food processing and allied industries, since they would be able to directly buy from farmers for better inventory and cost management.



Hapoos, Kesar to get dearer this summer ing to this problem, we had sudden rise in temperature that resulted in the flowering and small fruits withering away.”


eather changes and unseasonal rainfall not only affected flowering of mangoes bu also long dip in production of Valsadi hapoos and Kesar mangos is estimated. Heavy dew and less heat are expected to result in nearly 30 per cent less production of these fruits in Saurashtra and south Gujarat. In Valsad district, which grew nearly 14 lakh tonnes hapoos in Gujarat last year, bouts of rain in November, February and March affected flowering. Dr. D. K. Sharma, in charge of Navsari Agriculture University’s (NAU) Pariya farm, the biggest research centre of mangoes in south Gujarat, said, “We had nearly 65-70 mm of unseasonal rains in November 2017. Mango trees had just started flowering and rains led to big vegetative growth on the trees. This took away nutrition from the flowering. Add-

Sharma added that it is only the first flowering where fruits are little big now that would survive. But the fruits from the second flowering which are still small will wither away. We estimate 30 per cent decrease in the production. Rakesh Nayak, a mango farmer from Pardi in Valsad, said that we had very good crop last year but this season it would be 25-30 per cent less due to withering of flowers. Nearly 34,000 ha land is under mango cultivation in Valsad district. Last year, good quality hapoos sold at Rs. 800 per 20 kg in early part of season to settle at Rs. 700 per 20kg later. Kesar was sold at Rs. 750 per 20 kg and settled at Rs. 550 per 20 kg. This year, consumers will have to shell out at least 15 per cent more. In Gir, which is famed for Kesar, the mango production is expected to reduce by 33,000 metric tonnes compared to last

year. Traders, who book orchards of mango growers for a lump sum amount, are now trying to negotiate the earlier decided prices. According to Gir Krushi Vasant Producers Company (GKVUS) supported by NABARD to help farmers selling their produce directly in cities, kesar production was last year was 2.11 lakh metric ton while this year, it is estimated to be around 1.78 lakh MT in Gir Somnath, Junagadh and Amreli districts. Dr. R.S. Chovatia, head of horticulture department in Junagadh Agriculture University said, “The climate change has affected kesar badly. The flowers are very sensitive and slight change in atmosphere affects them quickly. This year flowering was also affected due to unprecedented humidity and dew.” Prashant Patel, a farmer of Bamansa village near Talala, said that generally traders deal for the entire orchards in January but this year, many are trying to renegotiate by asking farmers to share the loss because production is not expected to be good. In my village, a trader fixed a deal for Rs. 4.50 lakh to by mangoes grown on 20 bigha orchard but they cancelled the deal before few days.

T.S. Government promises development of fruit markets


the Commission Agents to construct the ethylene ripening chambers in their allotted shops.

elangana government is taking initiatives for development of fruit markets, ethylene chambers are being constructed in the fruit markets. Marketing Minister T. Harish Rao informed the Telangana Legislative Council that the State Government was taking measures for the development of fruits markets. He added that the existing fruit markets at Gaddiannaram and Jagtial Mango Market are proposed to develop with modern facilities in the acquired land an extent of Ac.175 00 gts. At Koheda (V), Rangareddy District and an extent of Ac.23.09 gts at Chelgal (V) respectively and also proposed to develop the fruit

The minister said that the use of Calcium Carbide to ripen fruits has been banned and the Department of Health is regularly inspecting the fruit markets and taking samples of fruits for testing and initiating action defaulters, if any found. market at Warangal with modern facilities duly acquiring the suitable land. The Marketing Department has constructed Ethylene Ripening Chambers in the existing Fruit Markets at Gaddiannaram, Warangal and Jagitial and also permitting

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The Marketing Department has also initiated several steps by conducting surprise checks in the fruit markets and also educating on effects due to usage of Calcium Carbide to all the market users through media.



Nestle to adopt regional cluster approach for growth


ackaged foods maker, Nestle India has kicked off a regional, cluster approach for brands, marketing and activation to fast-track growth and has identified enhanced nutrition as a core focus area, company chairman Suresh Narayanan said . The maker of Maggi instant noodles, KitKat chocolate and Cerelac infant foods, which crossed Rs. 10,000 crore in sales for the year ended December 2017, will push increased penetration of products for volume-led growth, which would lead to profitability, he said. “We are evolving a structure to divide markets into 10-15 clusters, and are segmenting product variants, distribution, sales, marketing and communication in relevant geographies,” Narayanan said. Product segmentation would mean regional variants of existing brands across the portfolio, for example, for ketchup, coffee and confectionery. The India arm of the Swiss company is targeting mini-

global portfolio including protein supplements, in line with its objective of broad basing its portfolio as a multi-brand company. Narayanan said of the over 40 new products that were launched last year, about 1015 per cent needed to be retweaked or discontinued, while the rest were successful.

mum 3-5 per cent incremental sales each from the regional variants. Narayanan said the company is working on reducing salt and sodium content in Maggi noodles by 10 per cent over the next 12-18 months, in line with evolving consumer preferences. Nestle has reduced sodium and salt content in Maggi noodles by about a third over the past few years, and last year, reduced sugar content in chocolate brand Milkybar and Milo milk drink. Nestle will accelerate innovation and is looking at a dual strategy of hyper localisation and bringing in new products from its

He said premium coffee and snacks were potential categories the company is actively exploring venturing into.Its mainstay brand Maggi contributed 35 per cent of the company’s reported growth in 2017, while 25 per cent growth came from new products. Narayanan said the company, which follows a January-December ’17 accounting year, is optimistic on the consumption outlook. “The last couple of quarters have been fairly encouraging in terms of urban consumption, along with relatively stable commodity prices. Rural growth could be impacted by monsoons, but we expect mid to high single growth,” he said.

FSSAI eases rules for agents & distributors


ast year, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) had issued guidelines for direct selling companies, bringing their agents under its domain which hampered business. Earlier the food regulator had mandated that all food business operators will need to take relevant FSSAI licenses, to be updated on a quarterly basis, along with details and identities of the sales force. Companies will need to take undertakings of their agents and be liable to sampling and checks by the authorities.

The direct selling industry being an extremely popular self-employment model across the world has almost doubled , in India since 2011 to reach Rs.12,620 crore in 2016 and is expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of about 4.8 per cent to reach Rs. 15,930 crore in 2021, according to a study undertaken by industry body Assocham. Then again in a latest notification direct selling companies, like Herbalife and Amway can now get bulk registration on behalf of their direct sellers on its own instead of each direct seller getting individual registrations. Direct selling is a form of retail in which products are marketed directly to consumers through a network of agents. And

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also their agents and distributors that involved with direct selling companies will no longer need to have storage facility or premises for registering with the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). According to FSSAI these direct sellers do not have premises/storage facility and therefore find it difficult to obtain registration as direct sellers from Registering Authority. The Direct Selling Agents are attached to Direct Selling Entities (DSE) which are responsible for safe storage and transportation of food products. Also the direct sellers will now have to submit lesser number of paperfor registration. “...Registration of such mobile direct sellers could be done by respective registering authority on production and verification of their identity certification/authorization issued by Direct Selling Entities along with personal identity proof.



FSSAI sets guidelines for food recall plans


he Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has set new guidelines for the food companies to submit their details of the procedures and mechanisms that they have put in place internally to retrieve their food or food products from the food chain in case a product is found to be unsafe for consumption, top 200 companies has directed to submit their plans, as part of its efforts to implement food recall guidelines. They will also need to give details of their recall management teams tasked with the food recall plan. Some of the companies that the FSSAI has written to include Hindustan Unilever, ITC, Cargill India, Nestle India, Patanjali Ayurved, PepsiCo India, Coca-Cola India, Mondelez India, Tata Global Beverages, Marico, Kellogg’s India, Bisleri International, GSK Consumer Healthcare and Dabur India. The letter has also been sent to other key domestic players such as Kohinoor Foods, Parag Milk Foods, Mother

where they would need to recall a food product.” “Food Business Operators carry the prime responsibility of implementing the recall, and for ensuring compliance with the recall procedure at its various stages including follow-up checks to ensure that recalls are successful and that succeeding batches of the food products are safe for human consumption,” according to the guidelines issued by FSSAI.

Dairy, Mawana Sugars, Harvest Gold and Havmor Ice creams. They will need to submit their plans within the next two months. Pawan Agarwal, CEO, FSSAI, said, “While we have initially asked the top 200 companies to submit their fresh food recall plans, we will also ask other food companies to do the same. This plan will need to give details on the procedures and mechanisms these companies have put in place in case of an emergency event

He added that while all companies need to submit these plans at the time of licensing, the regulator has now asked them to submit a fresh plan. While in developed countries, food companies are known to regularly recall their products as per the established protocol, the last time a massive food recall plan was kicked off in India was when Nestle India faced the Maggi Noodles crisis in 2015.

Karnataka government to launch fortified food for children


arnataka health department will be launching five fortified food products with additional nutrients, which will be made mandatory for children’s consumption with the aim of making children healthy and strong. The five products planned to be fortified are milk, salt, oil, rice and wheat. When this plan is executed, Karnataka will become the second state to make mandatory fortified food products available to its masses, after Rajasthan. The state health department officials had convened a meeting to execute the plan to introduce fortified food products and identify nutrients that will be added

to these products. Another round of meeting is planned this time with officials of FSSAI. The health department identified these five food products for fortification because these are consumed on a daily basis by children as well as adults. As part of the plan, producers of fortified food have to ensure that adequate and required nutritional supplements are added to these products. Senior health department officials told that with inadequate nutrients children suffered from various health issues. “For instance, due to lack of vitamin A, children have problems with eyesight. Similarly, due to lack of vitamin D, bones become weak. In order to create a strong generation, we need to provide children with the required nutrients,’’ said a department official. Harshavardhan B, Joint Commissioner, Food Safety Commissionerate, said that a meeting was also convened with the stakeholders concerned. “We are

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going to launch it in the state very soon. We will be the second state to make fortified food products mandatory after Rajasthan. Once it is launched, manufacturers and vendors have to sell these products. People should check if these contents are there in these products, and only then buy’’. The health department also plans to publicise the fortified food products as awareness is important.The senior official said, “With the help of media, we will sensitise people and make them buy these products after all, it is for their benefit”. Prof M. B. Rajegowda, an agrometeorologist, who works at UAS, said, “We have requested agriculture minister Krishna Byregowda to give incentives or better support price for such products that have additional nutrients. We need to encourage growers of such products,’’ he added. He said based on geographical area and rainfall pattern, not just these food products, even vegetables and fruits can be added with nutrients.



Odisha - An Immense state of agro potential


seminar on “Food Processing in Odisha with Focus on Packaging” was held on the sidelines of Odisha MSME International Trade Fair, 2018. Presentations and topics on newer technologies that could be adopted by entrepreneurs of Odisha for Ragi, Rusk, Millets, Jackfruit, Tamarind, other fruits and vegetables processing. Adoption of intelligent packaging was mainly highlighted as the need of the hour. With attractive incentives up to Rs.5 crore available under the Odisha Food Processing Policy coupled with benefits under Kissan Sampada Yojana, entrepreneurs can set up food processing industry in 2 mega Food Parks developed at Deras for the marine sector, MITS Food Park for the mixed products at Rayagada and other industrial estates. Giving presidential address, Prafulla Samal, Minister, MSME,W&CD, SSEPD expressed satisfaction over successful implementation of the International Trade Fair and holding of 4 seminars, which have been well attended and well received by the existing as well as budding entrepreneurs. Odisha is bestowed with natural and agro resources, offers employment opportunities in food processing sector and assured best facilitation to the entrepreneurs. Economic Advisor from Ministry of Food Processing Industry, B.K. Behera said that over Rs.1 lakh crore worth of food is wasted in India, which can actually feed many small countries. “There is a need

for waste reduction by setting up of food processing units, which has large employment potential. Though India occupies the status of leader in food production, but only 10 per cent of food is processed.” Director Indian Institute of Packaging (IIP), Mumbai Dr. N.C. Saha, stated that foodprocessing is globally a $770 billion market providing employment to over 5 billion people. “Packaging is an integral part of food processing. Asia Pacific countries constitute 3rd largest market in packaging sector.” He added that packaging is a combination of science, art and technology, which not only adds self-life to a food product, but also adds to the value of the product. In the context of the food items like rasagola, talgur, tamarind paste, spices produced abundantly in Odisha, setting up of state of the art packaging units in Odisha is an attractive proposition. Packaging will enhance branding, improve preservation and ensure value addition. L.N. Gupta, ACS, MSME stated thatOdisha is the 4th largest shrimp producer in the country and 9th largest fish producing state. It has 25 lakh MT of surplus cereal production and more than 32 lakh MT of surplus rice. Besides, it produces 100 lakh tons of vegetables, 85,000 MT of cashew, 6.5 lakh tons of spices and 20 lakh tons of milk, which altogether offer a huge potential for food processing industry in the state.

“Odisha offers opportunity of investment in primary processing from ‘cleaning & sorting’ to ‘chilling & freezing,’ Secondary processing from ‘making slices & pulps to cut/fried chilled itemsand Tertiary processing from ‘manufacturing ketchups & jams’ to Ready-to-Eat (RTE) meals.” CEO of Milk Mantra, Srikumar Misra, emphasized on the need by entrepreneurs to focus on innovation of products based on market demand. “The products should be nutrition based and convenience led. In regards to dairy sector, there is a need to educate the consumers to adopt the practice of utilizing the fresh milk rather than powder milk because of higher nutritional value of the former.” Director of Agriculture & Food Production, Muthu Kumar stated that government is laying emphasis on clustered growth in the agri business sector and accordingly, efforts are being made to develop clusters of turmeric cultivation, gingercultivation, chilly and for certain fruits. President of UCCI, Ramesh Mohapatra informed that at present there are 15 aqua hatcheries in the state, the production of which is going to rise to 27 shortly. “Odisha has 24,000 hectares of land under aquaculture, which is providing nearly 1 per cent of the total employment in the state.”

Sriganganagar will be a food processing hub: Vasundhara


hief Minister Vasundhara Raje said Rajasthan Sriganganagar will soon be made the hub of food processing, logistics units would be set up. During an interaction with farmers and traders in Sriganganagar, Raje aimed the industry and agriculture departments to hold discussions with the farmers for 15 days and work on the plan.

the upcoming global Rajasthan agritech get together in Jodhpur. She also added, for National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India and Rajasthan State Co-Operative Marketing Federation Ltd. (RAJFED), Rs. 498 crore funds has been sanctioned. The farmers can soon get compensation of the crops purchased on support price.

She also directed the officials to hold discussions with food processing companies based in Israel, Dubai and other countries so that MoU can be signed with them in

A farmer Ved Prakash Sharma complained about the poor superiority tissue culture plant that was purchased from the horticulture department, the chief minis-

Agro & Food Processing April 2018

ter directed the officials to register an FIR against the company. Raje further intended to provide compensation to the farmer.



Jammu vendors waiting for cold storage units for fruits


arwal mandi, Jammu, have been requesting the Government as well as Horticulture Department to start a atmosphere storage facility, so that the vendors can export the apples, but their demand has not been met. Even after giving assurance to the fruit and vegetable vendors there is no sign of initiative by the Government and the Horticulture Department. Rajinder Gupta, President, Vegetable and Fruit Mandi Association, Narwal said, “In summer, fruits shrink due to high temperature and their quality gets weaker, that leads to low prices. If fruits like apple and apricot are preserved under controlled atmosphere, we can obtain good prices.” Some of the essential varieties of apples grown in Kashmir valley are Ambri, Delicious, American Teral, Maharaji, Piazratbali, Kesari and Royal Misri, while nearly 500 varieties of mango, each with a typical taste and flavour, are found in the Jammu, which is supplied to Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan. “We had


two plots at the Narwal mandi, which were suitable for establishing the controlled atmosphere storage facility and we approached the Horticulture Department many times in this regard, but to no avail,” Rajesh Gupta, added. He also said since the project involved finances of Rs. 10 to 15 crore, the department was offered to take up its establishment in public private partnerships (PPP), but without any success. Denying the claim, S.K. Fotedar, Deputy Director, Planning and Marketing, Horticulture Department, said there was a scarcity of land in the area, as many shops needed to be accommodated in the Narwal mandi. Deputy Director, said, “The controlled atmosphere storage is impossible in the present scenario”. He, however, maintained that nearly 250-300 kanals under the Forest Department occupation were lying vacant contiguous to the mandi and if that land was acquired, the storage system could be established there.

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Anniversary Issue (June 2018)

July 2018

Event Focus


August 2018

Event Focus

SnackBev India

September 2018

Event Focus

(25th-28th July 2018) New Delhi

(31st-2nd August-September 2018) Bangalore FI India (11thSeptember2018) New Delhi

Interna�onal Foodtech (27th-29th September 2018) Mumbai

AnnaPoorna (27th-29th September 2018) Mumbai

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Agritex India (4th-6th Ocrober 2018) Hydrabad,India

Indian Ice Cream Expo (8th-9th October 2018) Chennai

Drink Technology (24th-26th October 2018) Mumbai

November 2018

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December 2018

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Agro & Food Processing April 2018


leading cold chain turnkey solution provider Rinac India Ltd. has been received the order to set up two mega integrated cold chain facilities in Kerala. The tender is to establish integrated cold chain facilities for bulk handling and processing of food and perishables for Kerala Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (KINFRA) and Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC). The combined value of both the orders stands at Rs.32.81 crore. KINFRA has given Rinac the contract to set up an integrated cold chain facility consisting of cold storage, ripening chambers and spice processing unit at KINFRA Mega Food Park, Kozhippara, Palakkad.

Exhibition Name

June 2018

October 2018

Two mega cold chain facilities to come up in Kerala

Gulfood Manufacturing (8th-November 2018) Dubai

Indian Cold Chain December 2018 Mumbai

KSIDC received the contract for design, construction, supply, installation and commissioning of a 3,000-tonne cold storage facility in the approved Mega Sea Food Park at IFC Pallipuram, Cherthala. The facilities will be set up on an area of 2.5 acres in KINFRA Mega Food Park and one acre at KSIDC Sea Food Park, respectively. The projects will be completed in 12 months’ time. Rinac has executed mega projects for setting up perishable cargo handling facilities at the international airports in Kochi, Delhi and Bengaluru, the India Food Park, Tumkur, North East Mega Food Park, Guwahati and cold chain projects under NHM/ MOFPI’s integrated cold chain and the mega food park scheme on a turnkey basis.



“Kurkure contains plastic?” PepsiCo Clarifies


epsiCo India Holdings Private Ltd is taking measures to assure consumers about the safety of Kurkure, in the wake of malicious rumours that the popular snack food contains plastic, said a senior company official. “I don’t know on what grounds the rumour is spread that Kurkure contains plastic. Normally big brands attract malicious rumours,” Vani Gupta, Marketing Director - Indian Snacks, said. “We don’t see such malicious campaign in other parts of India. Only in Tamil Nadu we see such malicious campaigns,” Gupta said. Some months back the associations of traders in Tamil Nadu had announced a ban on selling Pepsi and Coca cola brands. Gupta said the company is taking counter measures in assuring the safety of Kurkure to mothers. According to her, it is better to assure the consumers about the safety rather than taking legal recourse against the rumour

mongers. One of the steps is redesigning of the package with the words `Made with Dal, Corn and Rice’ printed on it.

“Many of our competitors play with the ingredient quantities when the prices fluctuate,” she added.

“In case of chips we know what it is made of. But it is not so with Kurkure. Hence we decided to adopt this strategy,” Gupta said.

“Even at home it is advisable to change the oil brands once in two months so as to derive the benefits offered by them. In the case of Kurkure the oil quantity used may not be much. Only children above the age of five should be given salty snacks. All food stuffs should be consumed in moderate quantities,” T. Shanthi Kaavery, a consulting dietician, said.

Pepsico Holdings held an event here where bloggers - mostly young women were told about Kurkure and the production process. With the assistance of an award winning chef, the participants also whipped up some dishes made with several variants of Kurkure. Gupta said: “Any food that is taken in moderate quantity is good. The problem crops up when one overdoes something.” Queried about the usage of palmolein oil in the making of the product instead of other oils like rice bran oil, Gupta said: “The oil suits well with the product. The usage of palmolein oil is not driven by costs.”

From one variant in 1999, Kurkure has 40 variants and is also exported to several countries. “Kurkure is made in our plants in Canada and Bangladesh. The product is exported to Gulf countries.” She said the organised Indian snack food market is around Rs. 17,000 crore and is logging double digit growth. Gupta said the company offers various regional flavours under Kurkure brand.

Cookie maker Unibic planning for pan India


ookie maker Unibic is planning to set up a production base outside of south India as the company looks at breaking into the Hindi heartland apart from going deeper into markets in eastern India. The firm has its manufacturing plant located in Bengaluru, where it is has five production lines with a capacity to produce up to 100 tonnes a day.

company is looking at for setting up this plant.Currently, the firm derives 60 per cent of its business from Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. It is also seeing good traction in the northeast and the National Capital Region.The total cookie market is pegged at Rs. 75-80 billion of which around Rs. 40 billion forms the premium segment.

Nikhil Sen, Managing Director, Unibic Foods, said the intent was to have a deeper footprint in the northern and eastern India, especially the Hindi-speaking states such as Uttar Pradesh where it had not seen much success with its premium range of cookies.

In a market dominated by Britannia’s Good Day and Parle’s Hide & Seek, the company is looking to go beyond the 10 per cent share in the premium segment. With cash at its disposal, Unibic is trying to create more awareness about the brand in markets that are more rural in nature, spending in below-the-line activities, innovative distribution channels, and getting the right packs in place.

“You run at a disadvantage when you are running from a single location. Hence, we are looking at expanding beyond Bengaluru,” Sen added.The company is planning to launch its second manufacturing unit at a new geographical location in central India so that it can maintain control of the facility and distribution and cater to the markets in North India. He however did not divulge the exact location where the

“We have to move to markets that are rural in nature. We are putting in Rs. 10 and Rs. 5 packs as penetration packs in these markets which will lead our distribution to the next level,” said Sen.The distribution network of rivals like Parle and Britannia are already widely spread in rural

Agro & Food Processing April 2018

areas.Unibic is also looking to leverage the contract packaging (CP) model, if required. The Peepul Capital-backed firm utilised three CPs -one in the East and two in Hyderabad - when it was running short of stock in 2016. Eyeing the health segment, it recently launched a range of cookies using ingredients like oats, ragi, rice and corn. It has also ventured into the new segment of snack bars. However, with Britannia’s Nutrichoice, and ITC’s Farmlite, there’s already enough competition in the segment. Going beyond cookies, Unibic Foods will also look at new snacking products which are distinct and affordable in nature. “We have 30 odd variants of cookies but there is a lot of work to be done here. Once we have exhausted the geographical part of what we are doing today, we will look at products which do not require humongous spending and give us the opportunity to be one of the top three players within a reasonable period of time, added Sen.



PepsiCo to reduce salt content in its products


per cent of our food’s portfolio by 2025. A recently launched variant of Kurkure has 21per cent less sodium, according to the snacks and beverages maker.

PepsiCo VP (snacks) Jagrut Kotecha said, “As per our performance with purpose agenda, we are working to develop our snack products through a stepwise reduction approach. In India, we have been successful in reducing 21 metric tonnes of sodium from our entire snack portfolio till last year and aim to reduce sodium in 75

PepsiCo, which competes aggressively against more than two thousand local brands in addition to established competitors including ITC, Parle and Haldiram in packaged salted snacks, is innovating aggressively through hyper localised variants, revamped packaging and penetrative distribution. PepsiCo, which makes Lays and Doritos besides Kurkure snacks,

n line with its global nutrition objectives, PepsiCo is all set to reduce salt content in Kurkure and the first lowsalt Kurkure packs have been recently rolled out.

and soft drinks including Pepsi cola and Mountain Dew, will reduce sodium and fat content in snacks and sugar content across its juices and carbonated drinks by 2025. According to its global commitments, three quarters of its global foods portfolio will contain sodium volumes less than 1.3 milligrams per calorie, and that at least three-quarters of its foods will not exceed 1.1 grams of saturated fat per 100 calories by 2025.

PepsiCo’s Kurkure to double sales in future


epsiCo India, in its snacks portfolio, targets to double sales volumes of Kurkure over the next 4-5 years. As reported before the company is also working on reducing the salt content in its snacks products, in line with its long-term global commitments.

gory, PepsiCo India, said that they have also refurbished the packaging and brand communication in line with evolving consumer trends and are also focusing on ramping up the distribution of the brand across traditional trade, modern trade and ecommerce channels.”

PepsiCo has also launched a new Kurkure Multi-Grain variant, which has about 6 per cent of ragi grain, and comes with reduced sodium content.

Kotecha said, “The recently launched multigrain variant with power grain ragi is meeting our global agenda on sodium reduction with a 21.5 per cent less sodium,”.

The company’s move to launch Kurkure’s multi-grain variant, which uses the nutri-cereal ragi, is in line with the rising trend of consumers looking for great-tasting but guilt-free snacks, he added. Jagrut Kotecha, Vice-President, Snacks Cate-

PepsiCo India has also introduced a new youth-focused packaging for all the 40 variants of Kurkure, which emphasizes on the ingredients used in the products on the front of the packs. The company

has worked for about 12 months on these new packaging designs and it involved the local team partnering with PepsiCo’s Global Design Group as well as an external agency. Despite intense competition from local and regional players, the company said that it has seen a double-digit growth in the salty snacks segment. It believes that focusing on regional variants has contributed significantly to the growth trajectory. The taste profiles in India change every 100-200 km. So over the last 2-3 years, PepsiCo has been developing a portfolio that meets the diversity in the consumers’ taste profile.

Indian biscuit industry to touch Rs. 400 bn by 2023


ndia is the third largest producers of biscuits following United States and China. The biscuit market of India is driven by factors such as increasing income of consumers, shift to premium biscuits, more manufacturing facilities set up, growing health awareness, innovation in biscuits, attractive packaging, etc. The organized biscuit market accounts for more than 70% of value share in the overall Indian biscuit market. The sector is expected to surpass the revenue figure of INR 400 billion by 2023. Organized market comprises of all the

major players of biscuits which serves both in rural and urban area. The distribution network of players like Parle and Britannia are widely spread in the rural areas. It is very easy to find a Rs. 5 Parle biscuit in any traditional general shop in those areas.

low price which makes it affordable for the low income consumers. To increase its sales and product value, companies have started to launch premium biscuits in small packets so as to increase the demand of their products in both rural and urban places.

Along with the major biscuit players of India, many regional players are also into the production of biscuits. These players have similar production facilities like the renowned one.

Major companies operating in the biscuit market of India are ITC Limited, Britannia Industries Limited, Parle Biscuits Private Limited, Surya Food & Agro Limited and Unibic Foods India Private Limited.

Their biscuits are well- labelled and packaged yet healthy to eat and available at a

Agro & Food Processing April 2018



State labs in poor condition, working to strengthen them: FSSAI


ood safety regulator FSSAI  CEO  Pawan Kumar Agarwal today said food testing labs at state level are in poor condition and serious efforts are being made to strengthen them by providing financial help and capacity building training.

labs are not up to the mark as they are still working under transition position.” However, the regulator is closely working with state governments to ensure the labs are strengthened and they come up to the standards that the country deserves, he added.

At present, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has total 62 labs spread across the country. Out of which, only 10 are accredited by the National Accreditation Board for Testing & Calibration Laboratories (NABL). The private sector has 150 labs which are all NABL accredited.

The FSSAI has decided to strengthen 45 state government labs with financial and capacity building training.

“Of course, we continue to face problems with the poor quality of state labs for good reasons perhaps. We are trying to improve these labs,” Agarwal said after exchanging the memorandum of agreement (MoU) with AOAC International here. As per the MoU, the AOAC International -a globally recognised standards developing organisation -will offer free access to the official method of analysis to the FSSAI. It will also support FSSAI in its capacity building programmes. Sharing about the state labs, Agarwal said, “The condition of many of the government

“A significant headway has been made in that, though more rapid progress is required. We have already supported 22 labs and getting more states and more labs on board is now a challenge,” he noted. Since some of the states do not have private lab capacity, the FSSAI CEO said, “The lab capacity even in the private sector in most of North east, Jharkhand, Bihar and Uttarkhand is very poor. That’s why we are pursuing state governments to upgrade their labs.” The FSSAI is also pushing the balance 52 government labs to get the NABL accreditation in a year or so. Besides strengthening primary testing labs, the FSSAI is making efforts to put in place a network of appellate labs or referral labs in the entire food testing ecosystem.

The referral labs are used for testing the samples in times of dispute. The regulator has supported providing equipment to six such labs and plans to support additional five labs, he said. Also, the regulator has plans to put in place a dozen of them as national reference labs for doing proficiency testing and method development and validations. Basically, the reference labs would act as support structure. “We have floated an expression of interest (EoI) calling both private and public labs. Over 30 labs have shown interest, we are in in the process of selecting them. May be 10-12 labs can be called as national reference labs.” The FSSAI is also encouraging mobile testing labs. Already 30 such labs are in the field. They do rapid testing and are creating awareness about food safety, he added. Agarwal said that a reasonable amount of work has been done in the area of food testing and analytics in the last one year despite limited human resources.



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