Innovation by the food industry holds the key, says Hemant Malik

Hemant Malik, chair FICCI food processing committee and CEO, food division at ITC, provided insights about the food processing industry during the 14th edition of the FICCI FoodWorld India.

21 Sep 2022 | By Abhay Avadhani

Hemant Malik's message: Advantage India and Advantage Food Processing

The main theme of Hemant Malik’s address to the FoodWorld delegates was: Advantage India. He pointed out India’s rise as the fifth largest economy in the world. Also how India’s GDP in the first quarter was 13.5% which he said is “the fastest amongst all the developing countries.” He said that India’s profit curve is robust, be it in business growth as well as the stock market. 

Adding to the Advantage India theme,  he also talked about “advantage food processing industry." He said, “We are the leading producer of cereals, pulses, rice, wheat and so many varieties of crops which creates an opportunity for Indian FPOs to drive exports.” Malik said that at the moment, “only 15% of food is being processed and there is a need for increasing the level of processing. "

He talked about four key trends that will shape the food choices, the first one being health. “Covid has changed the perspective on food. Today, consumers are getting more focused in terms of what they eat and therefore, the responsibility is on the food companies to create products that will meet the consumer expectations”, said Malik. He added the second key trend is the need for convenience, whether it’s in the form of food, ready to cook, in the form of delivery, in terms of eCommerce or in the form of cost to the consumer.  “The third key trend is consumer consciousness about the ease of reading the label plus the opportunities for the growth of organic food”, he added. 

Later, Malik talked about the fourth key trend which is change of technology. He spoke about data mapping, as well as manufacturing visual technology or deploying digital technologies for distribution.”

Then Hemant Malik talked about the challenges in the food processing industry. He claimed climate change to be the biggest challenge for food, agriculture and food processing. “In the month of April, we thought we will have 110-bn tonnes of wheat. Later we discovered that it will be less than 100-bn”, Malik added. He said that the unprecedented climate change issue makes it onerous to manage supply chains for food at domestic as well as global levels.

The next challenge according to Malik is the misinformation about the food industry. He said, “Every process seems to be bad for health or for sugar but the truth is that as an industry, we have a responsibility and that is something which needs to be highlighted. The good work by the industry or what exactly the industry does.” Malik addressed this  to be a revolution.

In his concluding remarks, Malik underscored four key points for the industry, “Focus on innovation, whether it is on taste, health or convenience; the digital adoption; embed sustainability in everything you do and above all, focus on nutrition.”