Fruits and Vegetables Processing Industry in India – an opportunity

9 Aug 2018
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SME CORNER Expert column
Dr. Ng. Iboyaima Singh, Sr. Principal Scientist & Prof. AcSIR,Former Head,Department of FVT,CFTRI

Fresh and processed fruits and vegetables are a fast-growing segment of the food industry and occupy an important place in the global commerce and the economy of many countries. Scientific studies have demonstrated the importance of fruits and vegetables to human health, contributing vitamins, minerals, bioactive phytochemicals, fiber and other nutrients in our diet. Botanically and organoleptically diverse fruits and vegetables are primarily grown in India on regional and seasonal basis. Fruits and vegetables are highly perishable and hence, caused heavy post-harvest losses due to various factors like improper post-harvest handling practices, insufficient storage and cold chain facilities, improper transport facility, lack of proper processing technologies and expertise. Because of their highly perishable nature, search for efficient and better methods of preservation has been continuing together with the developments in production, post-harvest handling, processing, packaging and quality improvements.

India has a strong competitive opportunity in food processing being blessed with incomparable natural advantages. Among the food processing sectors, processing of fruits and vegetables is driven by growing consumer demand for healthy and convenient products that are easily accessible and require minimal preparation time. India is the second largest fruit and vegetable producer around the globe. This gives it the unique opportunity and tremendous potential for processing into value-added products. The prominent processed products are Pulps and Juices, RTS beverages, Squashes, Cordials, Crush, Syrups, Canned fruits & vegetables, Jams, Jellies, Marmalade, Preserve, Candy, Pickles & Chutneys, Ketchups & Sauces, Dehydrated vegetables. More recently, Frozen pulps & vegetables, Fruit juice concentrates, Vegetable curries in retortable pouches, Canned mushroom, Cut vegetables, Health & Sports drinks, Nutraceutical products and many more.

Setting up of food processing industries is also gaining momentum in India due to a number of reasons such as vast resources, supportive government policies and assistance, financial organisations, improvement in economic status, changing lifestyle and food habits, foreign direct investment, etc. with its huge and growing population. The fruit and vegetable processing industry in India is primarily export-oriented. India’s geographical location gives it the exceptional advantage of connectivity to Europe, the Middle East, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Myanmar, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Korea.

At present, the fruit and vegetable processing industry in India has taken a new direction and is growing gradually with a strong growth rate annually. Infrastructure development for post-harvest handling and innovative processing technologies may take this industry to the new heights in the years to come with the help of sufficient exports and investments.