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An eminent panel of industry representatives debated over the possibilities in the food industry as far as product development and packaging are concerned. Moderating the discussion, Pattabhai Rama Rao, president, Australian Foods India, pointed out at the very outset that lunch and dinner are not processed food while the rest are. Building upon this point, the panelists discussed how labels like ‘vegetarian’, ‘low fat’ and ‘low cholesterol’ have emerged as increasingly important factors for helping the modern discerning consumer to make their informed choices.

“Packaging becomes very imporatnat since the consumer first eats with his eyes, then with the nose and finally with the mouth,” claimed Sanjay Bhatia, Chairman of Indian Institute of packaging and MD, Hindustan Tin Works. He further explained, “The word packaging can be decoded as ‘pack the aging’. The whole idea is to ensure that the consumer gets the product as fresh as possible. The shelf- life and the place where it will be placed should also be budgeted for. ”

Taking the discussion forward, Siddarth Singh, category head, Processed Foods, HUL, elucidated, “There is a demand for safe packaging, light-weight packages and also eco-friendly, bio-degradable packaging. Now the issues of hygiene and safety are becoming very important for the modern consumers who want to rely on a company that promises to take care of processing and refining the food items like basmati rice or package atta for example.”

Also getting to know what the consumer wants is the way to progress in the food industry that aspires to satisfy the taste-buds. Dhiren Kanwar, Country Head, Puratos Food Ingredients shared how his company tries to arrive at the same. He said, “We are a Belgium based company that has a presence in 100 countries now. It is important to be a global player with a local focus. We have 36 innovation centres where the B2B consumers can come in and help us to create solutions from their knowledge of consumer demands.”

Rajiv Jaisinghani, MD, Darshan Foods (Meatzza), felt that there is a growing market in the food and grocery segment. The products will be accepted if they are correct and they are flavoured right. The consumers are health conscious and are also looking for value for money. So the target should be that of convincing the consumer and allowing him or her the flexibility to utilize the food item. As an example he said, “Let the consumer decide whether she wants to cook the meat in ghee or oil.”

It is good news that more and more industry players have been able to understand their consumers better. As a final word, Atul Sinha, VP, New Business Development, Britania, said, “Even as far as our biscuits are concerned, we are trying to pack in vitamins, whole grains and healthier options now as per the consumer demands.”

— Sayanti Banerjee

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