Food processing sector is indispensable for the overall development of an economy as it provides a vital linkage and synergy between the agriculture and industry. It helps to diversify and commercialise farming; enhance income of farmers; create markets for export of agro foods as well as generate greater employment opportunities. Through the presence of such industries, a wider range of food products could be sold and distributed to the distant locations.
The term ‘food processing’ is mainly defined as a process of value addition to the agricultural or horticultural produce by various methods like grading, sorting and packaging. In other words, it is a technique of manufacturing and preserving food substances in an effective manner with a view to enhance their shelf life; improve quality as well as make them functionally more useful. It covers spectrum of products from sub-sectors comprising agriculture, horticulture, plantation, animal husbandry and fisheries.
Food processing industry is one of the largest industry in India and is ranked 5th in terms of production, consumption and export. Earlier, food processing was largely confined to the food preservation, packaging and transportation, which mainly involved salting, curdling, drying, pickling, etc. However, over the years, with emerging new markets and technologies, the sector has widened its scope. It has started producing many new items like ready-to-eat food, beverages, processed and frozen fruit and vegetable products, marine and meat products, etc. It also includes establishment of post-harvest infrastructure for processing of various food items like cold storage facilities, food parks, packaging centres, value added centres, irradiation facilities and modernised abattoir.
The food processing sector comprises of two segments- Primary processed food and Value added food. Primary segment comprises of packaged fruit and vegetables, milk, flour, rice, spices etc and constitutes around 62% in value terms of the processed foods. Value added segment includes processed fruits and vegetables, juices, jam & jelly etc and holds around 38 % share in the total processed food.
In an emerging country like India, where growth with equity is a primary policy thrust, the optimum development of the food processing sector will contribute significantly in tackling several developmental concerns such as disguised unemployment in agriculture, rural poverty, food security, food inflation, improved nutrition, prevention of wastage of food etc. By serving as a bridge between agriculture and manufacturing and by dealing with a basic need of all Indian citizens – the assured supply of healthy and affordable food at all locations in the country, this sector has the potential to be a major driver in India‘s growth in the coming years. In fact the food processing sector has been growing faster than the agriculture sector.
The food processing industry includes a diverse group of companies involved in the processing of products like fish, meat, milk, crops and water. It includes millions of Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs) worldwide and also some of the largest companies in the world. Many of these companies deliver products directly to consumers, while others specialize in Business-to-Business activities (ingredients, commodity markets). Some companies directly participate in all areas of food production, from farming activities through to final production and retail. Others are concentrated more at the top end of the production chain or buy through commodity markets.
In fact, Food processing is one of the world‘s largest industries from the perspective of the number of companies involved in the sector, as well as in terms of its total economic value.
To Read More Download the Free-e-book. The Book overs the following topics :-
1.1. Major areas
1.2. Benefits of food processing
1.3. Food processing in a nutshell
5.1. Fiscal Incentives for the sector
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