Food processing refers to any process in which a raw product from agriculture, dairy, animal husbandry, meat, poultry, or fishing is transformed through a process (involving employees, power, machines, or money) in a way that its original physical properties change and this transformed product adds commercial value. It leads to value addition- by techniques such as preservation, the addition of food additives, drying, and so on, to effectively preserve food ingredients, increase their shelf life, and improve their quality.
The Food Processing Industry (FPI) is very important because it develops crucial links and synergies between the two pillars of the economy, namely agriculture and industry.
As it serves as a vital link between agriculture and manufacturing, it creates both direct and indirect job possibilities.
Farmers' income will be doubled when demand for agri-products rises, increasing the price given to farmers, doubling their income. Farmers will get a better price if the food processing industry is encouraged, farmers need to be made aware. Credit facilities are extended, small plants can be set up in the rural areas which will not only reduce disguise unemployment but also raise the income of farmers. Small and marginal farmers can come together and collectively establish cottage industries. Government and panchayats can assist and allow private entrepreneurs to aid with technical and commercial know-how and help with marketing.
When supplemented with vitamins and minerals, processed foods may help close the nutritional gap in the population. It enhances the nutritional aspect of food.
The United Nations estimates that 40% of food output is wasted. Similarly, the NITI Aayog calculated that yearly post-harvest losses will be close to Rs 90,000 crore. With a greater emphasis on effective sorting and grading near the farm gate, as well as sending the excess product to FPI, this waste might be decreased, resulting in higher price realisation for farmers. For eg: Tonnes of mango got wasted, had it been processed into pickles not only would its shelf life increase but also the price hence farmers would get better returns. The food can be accordingly graded and sorted at the farm gate to segregate accordingly ( if it's fit for direct consumption, processing and what kind of processing ).
It is a significant source of currency. Indian Basmati rice, for example, is in high demand in Middle Eastern nations. It can help increase our forex reserve.
Because food processing is a labour-intensive business, it will give localised job possibilities, reducing the push factor in migration-source areas. It will be mutually beneficial for both rural and urban regions. The increased migration has caused innumerable problems for urban regions and has also transformed the social fabric of villages which is not always favourable.
Processing enhances the shelf life of food, keeping supply in sync with demand and thereby controlling food inflation. Frozen Safal peas, for example, are accessible all year.
Food processing will need a variety of inputs, offering an incentive for farmers to develop and diversify crops. It will be good for ecological balance too.
Preserves the nutritional quality of food and increases shelf life by avoiding decomposition caused by bacteria and other spoiling factors.
Improves the quality and flavour of food, resulting in additional options in the food basket
Food processing now permits food from all over the globe to be brought to our local market and vice versa. It is not only good for farmers but equally beneficial for consumers as it allows them to have a diversified basket of goods to choose from hence enhancing consumer sovereignty.
National Food Processing Policy
Food processing has emerged as a major sector of the Indian economy, accounting for 9.9 percent and 11.4 percent of GVA in the Manufacturing and Agriculture sectors, respectively.
However, some of the major issues confronting the industry include:
supply chain infrastructure gaps,
relatively low level of processing,
a lack of seamless linkage between agri-production and processing,
credit availability limitations, and so on.
The National Food Processing Policy lays down strategy for unhindered growth of the sector by addressing these challenges through
Promotion of clusters;
Convergence of services provided by different Ministries / Departments; Focused interventions for improving competitiveness;
Promotion of India’s Unique Selling Proposition (USP);
Strengthening unorganised food processing units;
Increased access to institutional credit at affordable cost.
Achieving a stronger growth trajectory by significantly increasing investment in supply chain infrastructure and processing capacity, especially in perishables;
Improving competitiveness via technological advancement, R&D, branding, and enhancing India's USP in the food industry;
Attaining long-term sustainability in the sector's development via effective use of water and energy, as well as the implementation of eco-friendly technologies in processing, storage, packaging, and waste disposal from the FPI business.