Focus on Quality, Urges Anita Praveen to Food Processing Industry

In light of increasing scrutiny on processed foods in India, Anita Praveen, Secretary at the Ministry of Food Processing Industries, emphasized the importance of adhering to international quality standards. Speaking at the 15th edition of FICCI Foodworld India, Praveen suggested that the industry might need to compromise on profit margins to meet these higher standards.

“Sometimes we say ‘we meet Indian standards’, but there is an international standard, which is better. Profit margins sometimes may have to be cut a little bit to meet them,” Praveen stated. She pointed out that European standards, which can include zero sugar products, should serve as a benchmark for Indian manufacturers.

Rising Consumer Awareness

Prashant Peres, co-chair of the FICCI food processing committee and Managing Director for India and South Asia at Kellanova, highlighted the shift in consumer preferences towards healthier options. He noted that modern consumers are more conscious of nutritional value and demand products that offer health benefits without compromising on taste.

“It is a paradox that organizations have to find the answer on how to find the right balance to give to the consumer,” Peres remarked. He added that trends such as increased demand for protein and low-sugar products are expected to grow, posing a challenge for the industry to adapt.

Technological Innovations and Sugar Reduction

Peres mentioned that since 2019, his company has managed to reduce added sugar in their products by nearly 22%. He emphasized that ongoing advancements in technology would further assist companies in cutting down sugar content in their offerings.

Ensuring Quality to Avoid Health Risks

Addressing the broader implications for public health, Praveen stressed that the food processing industry must prioritize quality to prevent ultra-processed foods from being linked to diseases. “Processed foods will continue to stay, and it will still be consumed but let us ensure that it does not get questioned for its quality,” she urged.

The call to action comes after a Swiss investigative agency, Public Eye, reported in April that global food giant Nestle added sugar in the form of sucrose or honey in its Nido and Cerelac products sold in regions such as Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

By focusing on higher quality standards and reducing unhealthy additives, the Indian food processing industry can better meet consumer expectations and contribute to a healthier society.

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