President & Group Managing Director: Dr.Shelly Ahmed | Editor in Chief & Group CEO: M H Ahssan
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query food. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query food. Sort by date Show all posts

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

World Health Day 2015: It's Time To Focus On Food Safety

With World Health Organization (WHO) declaring ‘food safety’ as this year’s theme for World Health Day, many questions related to the subject have resurfaced. “What is in your food? Where did you purchase the ingredients? Is your food safe from food-borne pathogens?”

These are some of the questions that WHO will be trying to answer today along with Food Business Operators (FBOs), public health experts, policy-makers and the general public to promote food safety.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Earth Day 2015: The Rise Of 'Slow Food' In A 'Fast Food' Era

A sustainable food system mainly refers to the production of food in a manner that meets the requirements of the people but doesn’t have any negative impacts to hamper earth and its ecosystem.

What do you see when you are served a plate of food? Is it all about what meets the eye or is there something more to it? While most of us may not care enough and get busy rampaging through the food to satisfy the hunger pangs, there are a few who would perhaps spare a few moments to admire its presentation, make a note of all the ingredients that have gone into creating it and appreciate the flavours, colours, aromas and textures. But is that good enough? Perhaps not.

Monday, May 30, 2016

The Relationship Between Monsoons And Food Prices In India Isn’t As Simple As It Seems?

By M H AHSSAN | INNLIVE

It’s a widely-held belief in India that a good monsoon brings with it a drop in food prices.

But a study by brokerage Nomura, which analysed India’s food inflation over the last 15 years, found that this correlation may not be accurate.

“It is not empirically evident that below-normal monsoon rains lead to high food price inflation, while normal monsoon rainfall leads to low food price inflation,” the brokerage said in report on May 25.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Focus: India's Growing Appetite On 'Food Service' Startups

Over the last year, food-tech startups have garnered investor interest. But the extent of growth hinges on the scalability of the business model, say industry watchers.

People who love to eat are always the best people, or so declared the inimitable American chef, author and TV personality Julia Child (and who are we to disagree?). India’s rapidly growing food technology space couldn’t agree more. With an increasing number of consumers looking for newer offerings, the market is, quite literally, ripe for the picking.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Big Question To India 'How To Feed The Hungry?'

Consider the two best-known facts about India’s food economy. On the one hand, 42 percent of our little children are malnourished. On the other, our godowns are bursting with foodgrain. Can we join the dots by drawing a straight line from the warehouse to the homes of the hungry?

That’s only the most obvious of our food system’s glaring contradictions. subsidies on food and agriculture have shot up and bumper crops have been harvested, but instead of bringing down food prices, it seems to have had the opposite effect. Farmers are being paid more than double what they were 10 years ago for their foodgrain and retail prices of food have gone up — but they are still committing suicide.

We congratulate ourselves on record foodgrain exports at a time when per capita food availability at ho-me is declining — and we lose money on every tonne that we export. Exporters make profits, but the exchequer loses.

Into this crazy picture, the UPA government proposes to introduce the National Food security Bill. No one knows what impact it will have — economic, political, social — but it appears set to become law nonetheless. Will it fix the problem or cripple the economy?

The success of the MGNREGs, which was passed in the teeth of considerable opposition, is held up as an example of a positive social legislation that worked. so why should the Food security Bill not prove an even bigger game-changer?

It is not a perfect Bill and has been variously criticised for low food entitlements, inadequate attention to nutrition, too much discretion to state governments in identifying beneficiaries, a poor grievance redressal mechanism and providing scope for substituting the Public Distribution system (PDs) with cash transfers.

However, there’s no argument against a framework law on the right to food per se. When asked whether India could afford to have a statutory right to food, Food minister KV Thomas answered, “Can we afford not to?”

Agriculture minister Sharad Pawar voiced his doubts in the Union Cabinet. If a small farmer could get foodgrain for as little as Rs.1 per kg, as proposed in the Food Security Bill, why should he bother to grow his own? And what would happen in a bad crop year, or successive bad years?

Policymakers clearly have little idea how much implementing the Right to Food will cost. In the current year, Finance minister P Chidambaram has allocated only Rs 90,000 crore towards the food subsidy, of which Rs. 10,000 crore is the additional amount for implementing the Food security Bill. The food ministry estimates that the subsidy bill in the current year is likely to cross Rs 1.3 lakh crore.

And even this is inadequate, according to a paper by the Commission on Agricultural Costs and Prices, which puts the cost at Rs 2.41 lakh crore in the first year of implementation. Over three years, it says, the outlay will be Rs 6.82 lakh crore, including the Rs 1.1 lakh crore required for upscaling food production.

Whatever the figure, the fact is that every year, the minimum support price (MSP) will go up and impact the food subsidy bill. since 2003-04, MSPs of wheat and rice have more than doubled, from Rs 640 to Rs 1,350 per quintal in the case of wheat, and from Rs 550 to Rs 1,250 for paddy. But the food subsidy bill has gone up more three times in the same period, from Rs 25,181 crore to Rs 85,000 crore. This is because handling and storage costs have gone up as well.

small wonder that there is an annual tug of war between the ministries of food and agriculture. The former, as the purchaser, does not want the MSP increased. The latter, representing farmers, insists that it must be.

The MSP is a political and an economic necessity; it is especially relevant to farmers who have the means to produce surplus foodgrain for the market. Farmers have come to expect procurement at the time of harvest — this is because market prices are known to fall below the “minimum” prices set by the government during the harvest glut. According to Thomas, “We are bound to provide food and to procure… when the farmers who have grown the grain are waiting for you to procure, can you say no?”

Given annually escalating costs, will the Food security Bill cripple the economy? The head of a leading global commodities major observed, “You will run your ship into the ground. If you implement the Food security Bill today, India’s credit rating will fall by two points tomorrow.”

But economist Jean Drèze says the Bill makes sense, not merely on civilisational, but economic grounds.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Gourmet Food: The New Item on Indian Consumer Menus

Pegged at US$1.3 billion, the gourmet food market in India is expanding at a compound annual growth rate of 20% and is set to cross US$2.7 billion by 2015. The trend is driven by multiple factors like rising disposable incomes, exposure to diverse cuisines via travel and the media, and the increasing number of specialty restaurants in the country. The opening up of foreign direct investment in retail is expected to give a further boost to this category.

During their recent trip to India, chefs Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris of the television series Masterchef Australia, were in for a surprise. One of their engagements in the country was to judge dishes prepared by contestants at Godrej Nature's Basket gourmet stores in New Delhi and Mumbai as part of a social media campaign organized by the retailer. Over 700 participants submitted their recipes in this contest and, of these, six finalists were chosen to compete before the two chefs. Mehigan and Calombaris were pleasantly surprised to see that they enjoy a considerable fan following in India.

The popularity of these international chefs is indicative of the steadily growing interest of Indians in international gourmet cuisine. There are other signs, too. Take New Delhi's bustling INA market. Once a hub for expatriates to shop for ingredients for dishes like the French pot-eu-feu, Hungarian goulash, Lebanese kibbeh or British Yorkshire pudding, the market now attracts a large number of Indians hunting for handcrafted ham, almond tagine sauce, Swiss truffles, porcini mushrooms, Greek olives and much more.

"The gourmet retail space has witnessed rapid expansion in the last five years and is expected to grow manifold over the next few years," says Pratichee Kapoor, associate vice president for food services and agriculture at New Delhi-based research and consultancy firm Technopak Advisors. "Currently pegged at US$1.3 billion, the gourmet food market in India [including retail, cafes and restaurants] is growing at a compound annual growth rate [CAGR] of 20% and is set to cross US$2.740 billion by 2015."

Kapoor notes that retail brands such as Foodworld Gourmet, Foodhall, Godrej Nature's Basket, Mason D'Gourmet, Le Marche and Nuts 'n' Spices are vying for a big share inthe growing pie with a wide product range and premium offerings.

MORE ON OFFER
Take Foodhall from the Future Group, one of India's largest retailers. Launched over a year ago as a premium lifestyle food destination, Foodhall targets the well-travelled urban Indian consumer. The store also has a working bakery and an open kitchen to serve freshly cooked food. At present, there are two Foodhall stores -- one in Mumbai, spread over around 15,000 square feet, and another in Bangalore, which is around 30,000 square feet. The Future Group plans to open around 10 more Foodhall outlets over the next two years. These will include both large format as well as smaller satellite stores.

Godrej Nature's Basket, the retail venture of the consumer products-to-real estate conglomerate the Godrej Group, started in 2005 as a single fresh food store. In 2008, it launched a range of gourmet food items and has grown into 24 stores located in Mumbai, New Delhi, Bangalore, Pune and Hyderabad. These stores are somewhat smaller than Foodhall locations, at around 2,000 square feet per outlet. According to Mohit Khattar, managing director at Godrej Nature's Basket, the average capital expenditure is around US$70 to US$80 per square foot. Each store stocks 5,000 to 10,000 unique products depending on its size and location. "Some stores have done fabulously well from the first quarter onward but on average most stores tend to break even in the seventh to eighth quarter post launch. We are open to looking at expansion within the cities that we are already in, as well as new cities," says Khattar.

Knowing what to stock on the shelves can be a tricky proposition. While some products are driven by customer demand, there are others that Khattar and his team bet on based on their experience. "This keeps us ahead of the curve. Customers [like] to check out what's new at our stores," Khattar notes.

Organic Haus, a store that imports organic products from about 22 German and Austrian brands, is also in expansion mode. The first outlet opened a year ago in the city of Ahmedabad, the second one launched in Mumbai earlier this year, followed by a store each in Gurgaon and Pune recently. The total investment in all four stores is approximately US$3.6 million. Organic Haus is now looking at Bangalore for its next store. Besides the company-owned stores, the firm also plans to expand its presence across the country through shop-in-shop outlets and a franchise network. An e-store is also on the menu.

"We will gradually expand our offerings to include baby foods, a greater variety of gluten-free products, milk and milk alternatives, as well as snacks," says Dilip Doshi, chairman of Organic Haus. "Indian consumers are increasingly becoming health conscious and opting for organic products, [which are] recognized for their [health] benefits. This growing awareness of the importance of non-synthetic, naturally produced organic products [is] encouraging us to expand."

Health is a growing concern among Indian consumers and, thanks to the stringent international certification, imported organic products are more readily adopted by them.

Interestingly, the quinoa and amaranth grains, which were once part of the staple Indian diet but lost relevance as new food fads set in, are now back. This time, they are appearing on the gourmet shelves and capitalizing on the health craze -- even despite a steep price tag. Quinoa, for instance, is priced at US$10 for 500 grams.

Of course, gourmet by definition makes a dent in consumers' wallets. So while 200 grams of Finello mozzarella cheese costs US$60, an equivalent of the same in a popular Indian brand such as Amul costs about a dollar. And while 100 grams of Clipper organic decaff coffee costs US$18, that of Nescafe costs half that amount.

KEY DRIVERS
So why is there this new fascination with gourmet food among Indian consumers? Harish Bijoor, brand strategist and visiting professor at the Indian School of Business, notes that the trend is in line with India's growing economy. "As people rise in the pyramid of achievement and earning scales get tipped progressively, [they] rise from basic levels of wants, needs, desires and aspirations," he points out. "Food that is basic gives way to food that is not-so-basic [and] gourmet food is at the pinnacle of not-so-basic food. Gourmet food grows as an economy progresses and people start tipping upper-end income scales. India has a sizeable chunk of the population that is tipping top-end incomes -- a chunk as large as the entire population of Japan."

Bijoor suggests that gourmet food has a great future in India. "And this future does not stop at caviar and truffles alone," he says. "In the developed and developing world at large, greed is considered to be good. Gourmet food is greed driven. This greed is not crass; instead, it is a refined greed. When people [are not able] to eat too much food of low value, they look for too little food of high value. Gourmet food is best eaten in small measure."

According to Technopak's Kapoor, the increasing number of specialty restaurants in India is further evidence of the growing demand of Indian consumers and their widening culinary horizons. She notes that Indians are getting more adept at choosing their "daily bread" from menus featuring exotic dishes thanks to the increasing number of international fine dining specialty restaurants, such as Hakkasan, Le Cirque, Megu and the B Bar, that are making a beeline for India.

The Le Cirque at New Delhi's luxury hotel the Leela Palace is the first Asian outpost for the iconic French-Italian New York restaurant. The restaurant, which opened about a year ago in the Indian capital, offers a wine list that includes 80 Italian and 100 French labels, in addition to signature dishes like arancini risotto, tuna in pistachio crust and paupiette of black cod. Megu, which opened earlier this year, again at New Delhi's Leela Palace, offers a quintessentially Japanese culinary experience. Fresh seafood and many other ingredients are imported from Tokyo's Tsukiji market. Megu's wine list has over 600 labels and 60 varieties of sake from Japan. A meal for two (without alcohol) at these restaurants could cost anywhere around US$200 to US$250.

Anurudh Khanna, executive chef at The Park hotel in Delhi, has been watching the changing customer tastes closely. "Nowadays, the customers are well accustomed with and aware of the various cuisines and the rare gourmet ingredients available all across the world," he says. "They actually know their food well. For example, they want to know whether the truffles being used in their dish are summer or winter, black or white. Similarly, they are choosy about having a particular cheese in their pasta...."

Restaurants at The Park use a host of gourmet ingredients, including bratwurst sausages, foie gras, crabs beluga, edamame beans, single-origin rare Jamaican chocolates and brie de meux cheese. Until recently, Khanna had a problem sourcing most of these items, but now he has a dedicated chain of local suppliers including Global

Gourmet, Caspian Caviar and Olive Tree Trading. "The demand for various exotic cuisines and their ingredients have increased so tremendously that everything is now easily available in India across various supermarkets and departmental stores," he notes. Orga Foods in Coimbatore, Tutto Bene Delicatessen in Pune, Bon Appetit in Pondicherry ... gourmet food in India now has several addresses.

FROM REEL TO REAL
The increasing number of food shows on television is also playing a key role in refining the Indian palate. Consider TLC, a channel belonging to Discovery Network, and its impressive array of iconic hosts, such as Nigella Lawson, Bobby Chinn, Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern, among others. Currently, TLC has over 25 food shows covering all types of cuisines ranging from German and Mexican to Asian and Italian. In November, it launched Man vs. Food Nation and will soon roll out Season 2 of another food show called Jamie at Home.

"TLC introduced cuisine programming to the Indian [audience] way back in 2004. [Since then], it has gained traction and is enjoyed by [a wide range of] viewers. We launch over 10 food series every year on TLC," notes Rahul Johri, senior vice president and general manager of South Asia for Discovery Networks Asia Pacific. Johri suggests that typically consumers "want to experience in real life what they watch on television -- from fine dining to wine tasting sessions."

Avni Biyani, who is at the helm of the Future Group's Foodhall, agrees. Speaking on the sidelines of the Fine Food India Expo held recently in New Delhi, Biyani added: "We are also trying to make the consumers aware about subtle differentiators. For instance, we are importing potatoes from Holland. We tell [people] which varieties of potatoes are good for fries, for curry and for a mashed preparation. Visual merchandising in our stores is also driven by the same intent -- we stock products according to cuisines so that it is easier for people to pick up ingredients that complement each other. So the sesame oil goes in the Chinese section and the olive oil in the Italian."

Pointing out that just about 30% of business at Foodhall stores comes from expats, Biyani notes: "It may not be right to say that the palate of Indians has changed, but we can safely say that it is evolving." The Fine Food Expo 2012 saw over 150 exhibitors from developed food markets across the globe.

Recently, the German wholesale player Metro Cash & Carry also introduced an international foods section with a range of more than 2,000 gourmet food items at its wholesale outlets in Yeshwanthpur in Bangalore and Zirakpur in Punjab. The group runs 12 wholesale centers in India. "As the Indian palate is being increasingly exposed to global cuisines, the demand for international and gourmet foods is growing significantly ... hence this initiative," said Rajeev Bakshi, managing director of Metro Cash & Carry India at the launch of the section.

It is estimated that on an average, imported food produce accounts for around 10% to 15% of the total organized food retail space in India. According to a study by Technopak, dairy imports (cheese, creams and dips) grew 160% over the previous year to touch US$185 million in 2011. The second fastest growing import category is wine, having expanded 58% over the same period. The packaged food segment has grown by 45%.

NOT WITHOUT HICCUPS
There are challenges to be met, though. Godrej Nature's Basket's Khattar lists a few: Multiple licensing requirements, surging realty prices, import restrictions, constantly changing laws, the absence of good storage facilities and the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) Act. (The APMC Act impacts all retailers who sell fruits and vegetables. The Act dictates that all fresh produce must come in through the mandis or wholesale markets and not directly from the farmers to the stores.) "The low awareness regarding specialized food, not just among the masses but also the workforce, is another challenge in growing the industry manifold," adds Khattar.

Technopak's Kapoor believes that the opening up of foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail could be a game changer for the gourmet food category. "Though foreign players are keen to enter the market, the restrictions on imports and high customs duty have kept them at bay for a long time. Now with FDI opening up, we [are likely to] witness the growth of such players."

Friday, September 23, 2011

Organic foods: Indians Slow to Harvest

Organic foods are well accepted in the Indian industry and market, but what cannot be ignored that their growth since introduction has been a slow process. MAANSI SHARMA traces the progress, advantages and challenges faced by the Indian organic food industry.


Organic foods are, as its name suggests, organic – right from the grass root level. They are cultivated without the use of preservatives, pesticides, insecticides or any other chemical components or synthetic substances. As a result, organic cuisine is healthy, safe and highly nutritious. Organic farming, for domestic consumption as well as exports, is one of the largest industries today.

Approximately 1.4 million farmers worldwide, with a total of 35 million hectare are engaged in organic farming. As on March 2010, India registered over 4.4 million hectares of organic farm land. In the early 1990s, a company called Organic India introduced organic farming methods to a set of farmers who had been witness to their crops falling prey to the adverse effects of chemicals used in the soil. Now India has over 44,000 certified farms that are reaping the benefits of the domestic, as well as export demand. In 2010, the organic market was estimated to be USD 129.3 million.


The first organic store Greenway opened at Mumbai in India in 1997 and started a trend that is here to stay. The domestic demand, followed by the export orders, for organic food continuously grew, and soon India became one of the largest markets for organic foods in the world.


“India has had organic food since the beginning of time. It only needs to be taken to a new level. Our regional Indian cuisine itself is a great unique selling proposition (USP), providing new options for the new generation. The customers are now more aware, more finicky and more health conscious, which automatically increases the demand for a healthier cuisine,” said Kamlesh Barot, Director, VIE Hospitality.


History
India has always been an agricultural land and organic farming has been in existence here for thousands of years. Traditionally, India used organic techniques for agriculture which served as the backbone for its economy before the British rule. In the 50s and 60s, when faced with famine, free India was forced to import food grains and increase food production as well. As a result, chemical farming came into existence in the country.


The increased dependence on chemicals eventually had its adverse effects on the land. It began losing its fertility, which led to an increased demand for synthetic fertilisers to keep the land reaping benefits. The increased costs that were a result of these necessities, leading to a gradual move back into organic farming.


The Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India, instilled guidelines known as the ‘National Programme for Organic Production’ which provided schemes, assessments and certifications to ensure the genuineness of the products. Certification agencies were set up as well to monitor and supervise the producers and their farmlands to ensure their adherence to the set standards. They also provide easily identifiable logos that increase assurance among customers.


The challenges
“Organic food has all the advantages. As it is healthy and safe, people prefer to eat organic food, be it pulses, spices or vegetables. However, the cost factor does deter people from opting for it. Certified organic foods are more expensive by as much as 50 to 100 per cent. Another issue is credible certification. A lot of food is said to be organic, when it is not,” said Kamal Meattle, CEO, Paharpur Business Centre.


The last few years have seen a steady increase in demand for organic food, especially owing to a better-educated customer base that has understood and embraced a healthier lifestyle. However, the organic food market is still considered a very niche one. A few years ago, when India had registered 70,000 hectares of organic farm land, only one per cent of the Indian population were found consuming it. This may have been due to the price difference between organic and main stream cuisines or scepticism on the consumer’s part, as far as the genuineness of the product goes. Organic food is priced at nearly 25 per cent more than its non-organic equivalent. These prices are mainly owing to the process of acquiring the required certification for an organic farm to ensure its genuineness, along with years of intensive farming invested to convert the land to organic suitability. Additionally the labour, soil and care required to cultivate the organic crop, as well as the high price for the required certification, adds to the costs. The burden is borne by the customers.


Dismissing the common belief customers have about burdensome pricing on organic cuisine, Manjunath PR, Managing Director, Lumiere Organic Restaurant stated that the price difference between the organic and non-organic food may sound substantial when the numbers are shown individually but altogether a meal price difference is not as high as people believe it to be. “According to our logistics, the cost of most of the raw materials is 30 per cent, dry fruit 50 per cent, and pulses 10 to 20 per cent higher than their non-organic counterparts. However, if you consider one kilogram of organic rice, the cost price would be no more than Rs 10 higher, which for a family meal will not be much of a cost burden,” revealed Manjunath.


In 2010, the nation recorded 4.4 million hectare of certified organic farmland. In 2008-2009, 18.78 lakh tonnes of certified organic products were manufactured, of which 54,000 tonne food items were exported. In the domestic market, however, organic food demand is yet to reach these heights. Even the number of organic restaurants seems to have decreased over the years, although the cuisine entered the industry with a bang. Several organic restaurants have either switched to serving mainstream cuisine or stopped their services, including the much-praised organic restaurant Pure at Taj Lands End, Mumbai, a part of Indian Hotels Company (IHCL).


“ To execute an organic food operation in the hospitality industry is difficult in India, owing to the lack of easy availability, proper infrastructure and the customer’s trust in the product. While there are several certified organic farmers they are not geographically close to most big cities. There is also no proper infrastructure provided for the manufacturing of organic food products. In addition, customers are unable to put faith in the genuineness of the product or even in the genuineness of the certification for it. If these issues were solved it would have been easier and more profitable to run an organic restaurant and the popularity of the segment would have increased automatically with an increase in the available options for the cuisine,” added Manjunath.


Speaking on the topic, Amol Nirbhan, Business Development Manager, ECOCERT said, “The restaurants which claim to sell organic food must demonstrate that the raw materials procured are indeed certified organic, the menus they prepare should constitute the certified organic ingredients etc. Ecocert guidelines have been designed considering these important issues, but the response by this industry is still very low.”


“Although service is the main aim of the hospitality industry, profits are given equal attention. There is, thus, an evident lack of passion for organic food, possibly due to the fact that it is not yet as highly profitable as mainstream restaurants. There is also a difficulty in identifying genuine organic farmers and products, especially due to the lack of logistics for the same,” stated Manjunath.


Advantages and limitations of organic food industry

Advantages
•Health-consciousness and increased awareness among consumers
•Available government aid
•Large market for exports

Limitations
•High prices for products
•Difficulties and heavy costs incurred by farmers for cultivation and certification
•Lack of trust in authenticity of products


The market today
According to Nirbhan, “India is certainly emerging as both a producing and consuming country for organic foods. In the next five years, the population in major cities in India will have an easy access to certified organic fruits, vegetables, milk, ghee etc. at an affordable costs.”


“In India we have access to all the organic food raw materials, including spices and condiments, which takes our organic cuisine to a whole new level. At our establishment Revival Indian Thali in Mumbai, one of the most popular dishes is a basic khichdi, which shows that even the simplest meal is tasty in organic cuisine owing to its light weight and health benefits. Most of our customers are those who are aware of the benefits of organic foods, such as those who demand trans-fat free food to escape cholesterol-related problems etc. The industry is dependent on the suppliers of raw materials and since our market has those in abundance, there is an expected increase in demand as well,” added Barot.


According to Jackie Lobo, Executive, Down to Earth, an organic food store across India, there is a definite increase in the demand for organic food in the market. Customers are more aware and have more spending power, and these have overpowered the price difference between the organic and non-organic food items, which used to pose a problem in earlier years. Among the middle class and above segments of society, consumers are insisting on organic food materials, which is a definite indication of its gaining popularity.


Speaking about the future of the organic food industry Meattle opined, “According to newspaper reports, India currently exports an estimated USD 500 million worth of organic agricultural and horticulture produce and products. This can be increased several fold. The global organic food industry continues its unprecedented growth path with sales expected to cross USD 100 billion this year. As stated by experts, in the remote interior parts of rural India’s agricultural land is still untouched by the excesses of chemicals and fertilisers, because the poor and marginal farmers could not afford fertilisers. This has resulted in such land being untouched by pesticides and artificial fertilisers and can be channelised towards organic farming.”

Friday, June 26, 2015

After 'Maggi', Now 'KFC' Faces 'Unsafe' Fumes In Telangana

By Raja Reddy in Hyderabad
Telangana State Lab Finds E.Coli, Salmonella In Samples Sent By NGO; Fast Food Chain Rejects Report. But the public became cautious during the Ramazan festive season, they are not venturing into the KFC outlets despite many luring food offers.

Five samples from five outlets of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) have been found to contain harmful pathogens salmonella and E.Coli bacteria. The Telangana State Food Laboratory, which conducted the test on the bidding of NGO Balala Hakkula Sangham, called the samples “unsafe“ even as KFC rejected the findings and denied any knowledge of the samples being collected in the first place.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Fast-Food Trends: Burgers, Burgers Everywhere, Where Are The Eaters?

By SMITA BANSAL } INNLIVE

As the news headlines suggest, the Indian restaurant scene is getting spiced up.

Between August 2014 to August 2015, half-a-dozen top global food chains queued up to serve more burgers and pizzas in India’s $19-billion eating-out market.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Worms On The Plate: A Look At Delhi Midday Meal Scheme

By Kajol Singh / INN Bureau

For the average middle class Indian, the Midday Meal (MDM) scheme in Delhi government schools may appear to be a ticking bomb. The schools are under-resourced, ingredients poor, safety checks minimal, and neither the NGO which prepares the food nor the teachers who distribute it can vouch for the quality of the food – which often contains worms, and one occasion, a rat. But the school staff claim the MDM in the nation’s capital is one of the better run programmes.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Focus: Unravelling The Mystery Of Delicious 'Indian Food'

By Manju Shree in Doha
Indian food, with its mouth-burning spices, cardamom-scented curries, tandoori fried fish, vinegar-infused sorpotel, mind-blowing Hyderabadi biryanis', crisp and divine jalebis', Punjabi channa masala, warm and cushy gulab jamuns', is unlike any other cuisine in the world.  

'Curry', 'tikka' and 'tandoori' are words that are often associated with Indian food and while they do reflect a bit of what Indian food is about, they're only a prologue to a very big, fat and interesting cookbook. Indian food has evolved through many generations, invasions, dynasties and experiments and has almost never been categorized under one umbrella.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

‘Malnutrition Quit India’ – A Campaign For Better India

India being the largest democracy with many dominating and booming sectors has improved a lot on its literacy rate and other such things at a global level. But still many evils prevail in India, strongly impacting the society and development of the nation as a whole. One of the biggest among these is ‘Malnutrition’. Each year many innocent children die due to malnutrition as they do not get enough food or food they get is of low quality. Above that, lack of health facilities, cleanliness and awareness are further aggravating the problem.

The situation is so grave at present that it needs an immediate action. Moreover, today, India has enough food and resources that all her deprived children can be fed. But data shows that each year many children died of malnutrition. On one side we talk about development, and on the other hand our children are not getting enough food. How can we sleep so peacefully at night? But it does not mean that India is sleeping. At last there is a wakeup call and government is now working towards the problem of malnutrition in India. To work in this direction, a campaign ‘Malnutrition Quit India’ was launched by the Ministry for Women and Child Development (MWDC), Government of India in Nov 2012. Actor Amir Khan, who is also the UNICEF brand ambassador for malnutrition, is the face of this campaign. He has shot 40 films to make people aware of malnutrition and its associated threats. It is really a good initiative. Moreover after his successful television talk show (Satyamev Jayate) on social issues of India people have started recognizing him as a social leader who can bring about change.

Apart from this there are many programs that have been initiated before this with the same objective of feeding every child of India. Midday meal scheme by the Akshaya Patra Foundation, Integrated child development scheme, National Rural Health Mission are few to name among these. India at present needs more initiations of these kinds, but with full involvement of persons handling these campaigns without any self interest. Even a single grain should reach to the neediest person than getting decayed in warehouses. 

There should be no corruption involved in this good cause. But in spite of all such things, millions of people in India are still living below the poverty line and malnourished. Though we have surplus food but it is not reaching to the one who needs it more and this is the major problem. This can be attributed to corruption and mismanagement, which is not allowing the right distribution of food. In various villages government has opened subsidized food shop that get fund from the Public Distribution System (PDS). These are supposed to give 35 kg of rice or grain in a month to every family that is living below the officially declared poverty line. But most of the times these do not contain enough supply to meet the demand.

Not only this, each day enough food gets wasted in most of the houses in India as we cook a new dish and neglect the old one that ultimately gets damaged in the refrigerator or on our kitchen shelf. Start realizing the value of food. Give this to needy so that at least for a day a deprived person can have something to eat because of you. Also if a person can afford then he or she should be a part of NGOs which are helping undernourished children and help these with food grains. This will definitely adds to the government’s effort of making better India.

Close to 42.5 per cent of Indian children suffer from malnutrition which means that every second child is not getting enough food. On the other hand 11% of population in India is over nourished, consuming extra or wrong calories. All across the world, number of underweight children is highest in India and it is a further astonishing fact that this number is double than the one in Sub-Saharan Africa region.

A study by the Save the Children shows that India’s rank in child development is even lower than most of the poor countries in world.

Malnutrition engulfs children and lead to their death. Of all the deaths, 50% of children deaths are due to undernourishment  Lack of proper food make a child more prone to certain diseases like diarrhea, malaria, pneumonia and measles that ultimately cause the death of a child, though all these diseases are curable.

State of Madhya Pradesh has the highest number of malnutrition cases (55%), whereas Kerala has the lowest (27%).Because of the gender discrimination in India, girls suffer more than boys.

A malnourished child will develop into an adult having less physical and mental growth as the damage caused by the poor availability of food in the first two years of life is almost impossible to be reversed back. This will create an altogether a low income strata in the society.

Further illiterate mothers do not know what is right for their children who suffer from undernourishment  This is another problem that has to be tackled. Though good campaigns will surely play their role in reducing the problem but there should be a system in which the food should be made available to these people directly without the involvement of so called chains. For this, first of all such areas and individuals have to be identified then the food grains from the closet grain market should be given to them.

Another very obvious cause of malnutrition is the terrible state of public health and this includes poor availability of pure drinking water, lack of sanitation facilities, knowledge of cleanliness and its importance. Along with food supply people living in remote areas need to be taught about the importance of all these. This will help in reducing the gastrointestinal diseases thus assist in lessening the impact of malnutrition though won’t eliminate it completely. This will then definitely help the government in achieving success like their accomplishment in Polio eradication program.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Special Report: Gen-Next Food 'Tadka' To Delhi Cuisines

The gong sounds. No it's not a Chinese restaurant trying to create an ambience, but a group of diners taking part in a unique experiment. The concept called Dans Le Noir, which literally means 'In the night' is now being recreated in India. What this means is that a a bunch of strangers will relish various cuisines, brought to them by whitegloved waiters - blind.

The concept, introduced by Food Talk India, is now being carried out in various restaurants in Delhi. Suchir Suri and Anjali Batra, founders of Food Talk India, explain that while the evening is a great 'bonding' experience, they want it to help break down barriers when it comes to food.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Special Report: Indians Prioritizing 'Food Security' Bill

By Dr. Mohammad Manzoor Alam (Guest writer)

Earlier this month the Union cabinet approved the National Food Security Ordinance. It was a bold and timely decision as proper legislation is time-consuming and hunger cannot wait. The National Food Security Bill, 2011 is yet to be passed by Parliament, although it has already been scrutinised by a Standing Committee. Considering the committee’s views amendments to the Bill have been introduced in Parliament.

Method of delivering food security, identification of beneficiaries and the financial implications have been issues of debate.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Atul Kochhar: The Master Of Indian Spices

Atul Kochhar transported Benaras to London and made 'rogan josh' a global rage. The Indian born, Michelin star chef talks to INN about his strategic climb to the top of the culinary ladder.  

If I was to say I had reached the zenith of my career it implies I have nothing more to learn or improve. As a chef I believe that the biggest challenge lies in bettering yourself, your knowledge and your team. There was a point in my career when a Michelin star was not within reach and I worked hard to be considered good enough to be awarded one. Having said that, goalposts keep shifting and you need to move with the times. Just because I received a Michelin star at Benares does not imply that my work is over. In fact, when you are vested with the responsibility that comes with one of these stars you realise that you have to live up to it; sustaining standards is a big challenge and we are always working towards retaining the old and looking at the new.

Even years after working in the hospitality industry in India and the United Kingdom, I am excited by the way in which cultures, traditions and countries perceive food.  When I first arrived in London, Indian food had a uni-dimensional identity. People enjoyed Indian food as they knew it but it was extremely anglicised and people were only familiar with certain dishes that we were churned out by a handful of chefs who were tentative about surprising the unprepared British palate with too much 'Indianness'. 

There was also a misconstrued interpretation of how Indian food should be presented and served. When I first started cooking I was often asked for dishes such as chicken or shrimp rogan josh. Those who were unfamiliar with Indian food did not know that rogan josh could only be a lamb preparation.

Over the years though, things have changed. Indian food does have certain parameters and though I like to break those parameters every once in a while, I always keep the ingredients and the influences traditional. I cook what I was taught growing up and my food reflects who I am and where I have come from.  Spices are a central ingredient in most of my dishes and I believe that they add depth and interest to a preparation. I cook modern Indian cuisine with British ingredients as well. In my early years I was heavily influenced by my family and their love of food. 

My mother always cooked for us and relied heavily on spices and local ingredients that I loved. However, it was my father who really inspired me to become a chef. He was a caterer and I always watched him prepare dishes and cook for large groups. I admired his food knowledge and how he knew what ingredients went together. He also taught me a lot about my food ethos today - which food you should eat throughout the year and when, based on their seasonality - this is something that I follow to this day at Benares.

I came to London in1994 and started worked with Tamarind and won my first Michelin star in 2001 which creates kind of a security blanket and allows you to continue innovating. When I decided to go solo with my own venture, Benares, in 2003, it was challenging and took more work than I ever imagined.

Suddenly my role was no longer confined to the kitchen and I had to learn to multitask. Benares has been open for ten years now and it is a pillar for me in London.  The restaurant and our work there introduced me to a lot of interesting people and new projects.  I travel to gain experience and learn about new food techniques and ingredients, as well as research recipes.

I think it is hard to appeal to a global palate and think it is wise to work with what you love and are good at instead. I have built my career not on traditional Indian food but rather by taking traditional Indian spices and creating modern Indian food using British ingredients. I am proud to say that I rely heavily on the use of local and sustainable British produce with fish from our coast and vegetables grown in Britain, and then I incorporate them into dishes with spices and traditional recipes.  So rather than cooking curries, I would perhaps use a British fish and subtly spice it with Indian spices and create a sauce that is reminiscent of a more traditional dish.


This appeals to a lot of people because it combines two distinct cultures and flavours. Many of my dishes on the Benares menu have as many as 35 ingredients or more! However, if there was one group of ingredients I could not part with it would be spices. They are extremely versatile and add an amazing flavour to dishes. Interestingly, they have natural health benefits and often allow you to use less salt.  I always recommend that when cooking, people only purchase spices in small quantities as they often only have a shelf life of about three months and fresh spices make all the difference when cooking.  

Nowadays Indian food and curries are more widely accepted and people are open to trying something they've never had or something that they have tried previously but with a twist.  Overall, this is an industry based on passion so you really have to love what you do. At the end of the day, we chefs are ambassadors of India and what we put on a plate overseas goes a long way in cementing how we are viewed by the international community at large.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Special Report: Why Chhattisgarh State Ration Shops Are Turning Away People Without 'JDY Bank Account'?

This is probably part of the national push to replace food rations with cash transfers. In the first week of January in Chhattisgarh, many people who went to government ration shops to collect their month supply of food grains were turned away because they did not have bank accounts.

It is usually the poor who do not have bank accounts. So, for a couple of weeks, it was those in the greatest need of subsidised grains who went without them.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Special Report: Rotting Food Grains In Hungry India

By Astha Prakash (Guest Writer)
   
It is hard to believe that India is the same country that transformed from a “begging bowl” to a “bread basket”. After high-yielding varieties of seeds were first introduced in India in 1968, the wheat production rocketed from 6.4 million tonnes in 1948 to 20 million tonnes. The Green Revolution converted India into a shining new nation brimming with success and sufficient wheat stalks. But 45 years after the hopes of converting a country that was once on the brink of mass famine to a self-contained nation, the situation continues to be shaky.

Friday, April 24, 2015

A New Cincept Of 'Prison Restaurant' With 'Jail Delicacies'!

In this age of food glut and food writing, INNLIVE explores the concept of prison food delicacies. 

Don’t you agree the era of Food had dawned, ushering in Bhojan Yug? We may no doubt be a poor, underdeveloped nation not reaching our upper calories limits with a large percentage of the population suffering from malnutrition. Let us forget that. We have to focus on gourmet cuisine and the proliferation of culinary experts and seven-star chefs who on TV screens clean, cook and present hundreds of delicacies from different parts of the country.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Battle for Water - India’s Food Insecurity Compounded By Water Scarcity

Since India’s independence, the mammoth task of feeding its hundreds of millions, most of whom are extremely poor, has been a major challenge to policymakers. In the coming decades, the issue of food insecurity is likely to affect almost all Indians. However, for the poorest amongst us, it could be catastrophic. India ranks 65 of 79 countries in the Global Hunger Index. This is extremely alarming.

In the past few years, uneven weather patterns combined with over exploited and depleting water resources in various parts of India have wreaked havoc on food security, particularly for small and marginal farmers, as well as the rural poor.

The recently launched Global Food Security Index (GFSI) estimates that in 2012, there are 224 million Indians, around 19% of the total population, who are undernourished. The same report also estimates that while the Indian government has various institutions designed to deal with the impact of inflation on food prices, it only spends 1% of agricultural GDP on research to build food security for the poorest. Overall, India ranked 66th on the GFSI. It is estimated that one in four of the world's malnourished children is in India, more even than in sub-Saharan Africa.

Water insecurity, further exacerbated by climate change, is arguably the most impactful factor on India’s food security. India’s total water availability per capita is expected to decline to 1,240 cubic metres per person per year by 2030, perilously close to the 1,000 cubic metre benchmark set by the World Bank as ‘water scarce’.

Factors such as increasing usage, poor infrastructure, and pollution have led to a decline of water quantity and quality in India. Climate change, meanwhile, is expected to cause a two-fold impact.

One, increasing temperatures have hastened the rate of melt of the Himalayan glaciers, upon which major Indian rivers like the Ganges, Indus and Brahmaputra depend.

Second, the effect of climate change on monsoons in India will cause them to become more erratic, arriving earlier or later and lasting for shorter, more intense periods of time. India’s farming communities depend overwhelmingly on the monsoon, as their cropping patterns are built around it. The combined effect of climate change and over exploitation is violating the water cycle, degrading aquifers and  eroding ground water resources.

Over 50% of agricultural land in India depends entirely on groundwater. In North and Northeast India, where perennial rivers (rivers that have water year round, i.e. glacier fed rivers in India, such as the Ganges) sustain the agricultural land, have to deal with issues such as flooding caused by climate change impacts such as speedier glacier melt and erratic monsoons.

Meanwhile, farmers in states in West and South India, where rivers are seasonal, have to depend heavily on rapidly depleting groundwater resources.

The worst affected by this type of water-fuelled food insecurity are the small farmers of India. Estimates suggest that between 1995 and 2010, over 2,50,000 farmers in India, mostly from states like Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, killed themselves. Most of these farmers were drowning in vicious cycles of debt caused by failed monsoons and increasing droughts.

Responses to this crisis, including the National Action Plan on Climate Change, lay out various solutions and intended interventions, but most focus on the long term. To secure the future of India’s water resources vis-à-vis its agriculture in the future, it is important that certain steps be taken immediately. First and foremost, authorities will have to remove the mindset that water is an endless resource and the solution to water woes is simply a further development of India’s fast depleting groundwater.

Indeed, Dr. Mihir Shah, co-Founder, Samaj Pragati Sahayog (SPS) and member of the Planning Commission of India has stated that the ‘era of further water development may be over’ and emphasized that we have to urgently introduce more efficient water management. In this regard, promotion of irrigation efficiency will be crucial in the future.

Systems such as drip irrigation and System of Rice Intensification (SRI) to farmers across India will be essential. It will also be necessary to promote water conservation methods such as rain water harvesting, which has been successful in urban India, in villages as well.

At the same time, reducing inefficiencies and water wastage through conveyance losses will require governmental and NGO support in actions such as replacing faulty pipes and pumps.  Hence, India needs to invest on improving its water productivity, and any capacity to produce more food like rice with less water will be an important contribution to sustainable water and food security.

 In short, India is facing a bleak future of becoming water scarce and painfully food insecure. How exactly are the country’s hundreds of millions, who depend entirely on agriculture for their livelihoods, as well as those that depend on agriculture for their food needs, to make ends meet?

Delaying this issue is simply not an option for India as this could lead to increased instability, poor human development and enhance intergenerational poverty. India needs to ensure food security through sustainable development and create resilience amongst the most vulnerable in the country: the poor.

Meanwhile, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh issued a sober warning about the management of his country’s water supply: he reminded scholars gathered in the capital that with 17 percent of the world’s population, India only possesses 4 percent of the world’s water supply. 

Singh made the remark during the opening address at India Water Week, a four-day event bringing together water researchers and policymakers from around the world.  He stressed the need to conserve groundwater, on which more than two-thirds of the country depends for its water.

The prime minister also attributed India's widening gap between demand and water supply to rapid economic growth and urbanization. 

"Inadequate and suboptimal pricing of both power and water is promoting the misuse of groundwater," he said. "We need to move to a situation where groundwater can be treated as a common property resource." 

Singh pointed out that climate change poses a further challenge to the availability of water, which is tightly interwoven with issues of food security.  An estimated 300 million Indians live in extreme poverty and he added that number could rise without proper water management.

"The planning, development and management of water resources has to keep pace with current realities. The present legal situation gives every landholder the right to pump unlimited quantities of water from a bore well on his own ground. There is no regulation of ground water extraction and no coordination among competing uses." 

Regardless of governance, India faces a basic mathematical conundrum when it comes to water supply, said Jin Zidell, founder of Blue Planet Network.

"You have, unfortunately, exploding populations with a fixed amount of water," Zidell said. "We're drinking the same water that the dinosaurs were drinking, a very fixed amount. I don't know how to fix that situation, other than massive change in farming techniques."

Zidell points out more than 70 percent of the world’s water supplies are used for agriculture -- a ratio that is difficult to sustain as populations grow and become wealthier.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

How Did Economic Reforms Change The Average Indian’s Diet?


By M H AHSSAN | INNLIVE


Economic reforms have diversified Indian diets, but there is still not enough on the plate.


The Indian dietary diversification seems to be nothing when compared to the change which has taken place in the average Chinese person’s diet, where cereals and other calorie-rich items constitute just around a quarter of the diet.