Food for thought
With the potential to attract business worth $33 billion by 2024, the Indian Food Processing Industry has emerged as an important sector that provides lucrative opportunities, says Vasim Shaikh
Food processing is a modern practice that develops distributional efficiency and improves the marketing of the food products. It is regarded as a branch of food science, where a set of methods and practices are used to renovate raw elements into food for safe consumption by humans or animals. Though food processing existed even during prehistoric period, the technology input to improve preservation of food, flavour and to decrease the toxins in the food product is comparatively new and has transformed the whole food industry.
At present in India, the Food Processing Industry has been gaining impulse as the consumer’s food industry. There are about 300 million upper and middle-class customers of processed and packaged food in the country and another 200 million are expected to be added.
To further increase the growth and expansion of food processing industries, a total of 500 Food Park are planned to set up all over the country which is going to create enormous employment opportunities for those who have ability towards this work. The food is processed, conserved, packaged and stored according to the stipulations by industry and government. The food processing business is coming of age, it is ranked fifth among industries of India.
The Food Corporation of India, which deals with the major logistical part purchase, storing, transport and delivery of food grains and other food items also provide employment to a large number of people. Private enterprises market bread, fruit juices, edible oils and soft drink concentrates.
Food processing industries lead to the maximum employment in all industry. By giving work indirectly to the almost lakhs of people, food processing of India creates number of direct and indirect employment opportunities for the candidates, because it connects a link between agriculture and manufacturing. In the coming years, there will be good demand for healthy and modern food products. India is also the second largest manufacturer of food next to China.
It is estimated that in few years the total food production in India will perhaps double and there is a chance for the graduates of food processing specialists. Some of the most common areas of employment are dairy and food processing, packaging, canning, frozen food/refrigeration and thermo-processing. Some of the sub-sectors of the food processing industry are fisheries, meat and poultry, fruits and vegetable processing, milk and milk products, alcoholic beverages and soft drinks and grain processing. A candidate can also get the opportunity to work in consumer product groups like confectionery, chocolates and cocoa products, soya-based products, mineral water, high protein foods, soft beverages, alcoholic and non-alcoholic fruit beverages.
It is important to look at the nature of work in food processing segment, it can even include preparation of raw materials like cleaning of the raw material, chopping, blanching, crushing, mixing, cooking of the food item, adding preservers and final packaging. Some of the basic skills which an applicant should have:
- Organisational abilities
- Particular about cleanliness and hygiene
- Hard working
The growing food processing segment offers exceptionally brilliant employment chances to those who have technical qualification in food processing. However, there are precise requirements which are necessary to get hired from top-notch food processing firms. Some tips can be:
Early start to study food processing can be helpful in getting a job at an early age and for that one should start preparing for various entrance exams conducted soon after 10+2.
Having some soft skills such as being careful, meticulous, organisational, cleanliness and hygiene focused, sensible and hardworking can give an edge over rest of candidates.
There is no match for practical judgment in food processing; therefore, candidates possessing outstanding domain knowledge always have higher employability.
Most of the production-related jobs include physically demanding work. To deal with hard working conditions and comply with safety regulations, companies have started ergonomic programmes to cut down on work-related accidents and injuries.
Food processing can be learnt through numerous courses that are accompanied by different colleges in India. You can choose diploma, certificate, degree and doctoral courses. The courses are of different duration. Some of the programmes which a candidate can choose are as follows:
- Diploma in Food Processing
- Diploma in Food Preservation
- Diploma in Food Processing & Technology
- BSc in Home Science/Food Technology/Food Science
- B.Tech in Food Processing & Technology
- Hotel Management/ International Hotel Management
Salary depends on the educational qualification, skills, work experience and contribution in the production process. Location of the unit also plays an important role in the remuneration presented to candidates; although, professionals working in food processing units in metro cities earn attractive salaries. An entry-level expert can earn salary Rs 15,000-Rs 20,000 per month. Likewise, those with few years of work experience can earn Rs 40,000-Rs 50,000. Senior management persons with years of knowledge behind them can pocket very high salaries.
— The writer is co-director of CEDP Skill Institute, Mumbai
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