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NITI Aayog CEO Urges to Leverage Focus on Millet-Based Food

CEO of NITI Aayog Parameswaran Iyer urged the food processing industry to capitalise on the government's focus on millet-based foods and develop suggestions and ideas to strengthen its efforts.

Shivam Dwivedi
Food requirements are expected to skyrocket in the coming years
Food requirements are expected to skyrocket in the coming years

The chief executive officer stated during a speech at the National Food Processing Conclave 2022 that food processing is crucial for the population's and economy's well-being and may also help boost farmers' income.

In addition, he stated that nutrition could play an essential role in achieving goals. According to Parameswaran Iyer, the food processing sector is critical to the Indian economy and job creation. On Friday, the CII's Food and Agriculture Centre of Excellence hosted an event in New Delhi. "That is why we should also emphasize increasing the production and export of processed products," the CEO added.

The conclave theme was Food Processing Industries 2.0: The Next Growth Enabler for India@100, focusing on millets because 2023 has been designated the International Year of the Millets. According to a CII statement, the organization created a white paper on Food Processing Vision 2047, launched at the conclave, and aimed to recommend actionable steps to achieve the vision for food processing.

Suresh Narayanan, Chairman of the CII National Committee on Food Processing Industries and Chairman and Managing Director of Nestle India, emphasized the importance of the sector, saying, "The sector is critical to India's economic and social growth, as it allows better price realization for farmers, provides employment, and enables nutrition delivery."

"Food requirements are expected to skyrocket in the coming years, which will provide a lot of opportunity for industry innovations in the food processing sector to meet the demand-supply gap," said Ministry of Food Processing Industries Additional Secretary Minhaj Alam.

"Food technology innovations are critical to the growth and development of the food processing sector because they support and enable the various components of the food value chain from farm to fork," said Mayank Jalan, Co-chairman of the CII National Committee on Food Processing Industries and Chairman and Managing Director of Keventer Agro. The Conclave saw the participation of next-generation food companies such as Wholsum Foods, Sresta Organics, Good Dot Enterprises, and Sattviko, among others, in the innovation segment.

In her keynote address, Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Joint Secretary Shubha Thakur stated, "The government is keen to facilitate solutions for current challenges in millet processing, as well as R&D and innovation." Rasna CMD Piruz Khambatta echoed this sentiment, saying, "It is critical to continue increasing millet production while simultaneously mainstreaming it into the consumption basket, and it is here that industry comes in."

According to the CII statement, food processing can also be used to reduce food waste, which is currently at an epidemic level. Food donation is a crucial means of reducing food waste. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), in collaboration with CII FACE, launched the Safe Food Share Food initiative during the conclave.

According to the statement, the initiative aims to bring together relevant stakeholders such as governments, corporations, food businesses, recovery agencies, and civil society organizations to prevent food loss and distribute surplus food to the needy population to reduce malnutrition.

A growing consumer focus on health and nutrition is another key trend influencing the sector's future. According to the CII, food processing companies in India have already shifted their focus to enabling access to nutrition, with a greater emphasis on lowering nutrients of concern, improving micronutrient access through fortification, and enabling protein intake through innovative products, among other things.

"Initiatives like Eat Right India aim to spread awareness about food safety, quality, and regulations at the grass-roots level and educate people to make healthier food choices," said FSSAI CEO S Gopalakrishnan.

With the support of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), CII-FACE developed an e-course to assist MSMEs in developing healthier food product options for consumers, which was launched at the Conclave by S Gopalakrishnan. CEOs and top executives from prominent food and related sectoral companies, as well as think tanks and academia, attended the Conclave.

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