How technology is playing a key role in the automation of traditional Indian snacks
The country’s traditional snack segment is gradually adopting automation and the latest technologies to keep pace with the quality of produce. The pandemic has also boosted the purchase of packaged snacks due to its protected layer of packaging.
The food processing industry in India is one of the largest across the globe. According to Invest India, a national investment promotion and facilitation agency, India's food processing industry is expected to touch $535 billion mark by 2025-26.
It would be appropriate to say that the eponymous sector is an imperative part of our country and its economy. Hence, it becomes critical for India to enhance the use of technology and automation in the industry in order to keep up with the changing times and grow further.
It seems that the country's traditional snack segment, which constitutes one of the major segments of the food processing industry, is also gradually adopting automation and the latest technologies to keep pace with the quality of produce.
The pandemic and its impact on the food processing industry
Typically, Indians have been more disposed to unpackaged foods as they were prudent about packaged delicacies, particularly snacks. Hence, the majority of them preferred loose food items from their long-trusted shopkeepers.
However, the pandemic completely transformed the market scenario. It doesn't come as a surprise that health and well-being, in such unprecedented times, have become the utmost priority for people. They are actually reassessing what they eat. The global health crisis has certainly led to a greater focus on health, thereby changing the behaviour of people.
Individuals are presently more boosted to purchase packaged snacks due to its protected layer of packaging. Furthermore, the steep rise in the popularity of convenience foods and easy availability of snack food items are driving the sales.
Moreover, the packets additionally label the item and make the buying system simpler by stating all pertinent data on the cover. The packaging of snacks or of any other item permits easy and sterile transportation of food across locations.
Transformation due to automation
Today, almost every other industry is rapidly picking up the trend of automation to stay afloat in the market. The traditional Indian snack industry has been no exception. Undoubtedly, to expand the progress, there is a dire need to make the processes more effortless and efficient. Thus, the food and snack processing industry has begun to embrace the process of automation to further increase the efficacy of the operations.
Food manufacturing has become troublesome and tricky due to the intricate processes involved in accomplishing various tasks. These range from preparing ingredients, methods of cooking, packing and picking, and enhancing the overall hygiene standards of the food manufacturing system.
With a surge in technological advancement, automation is effectively integrating to make high precision movements in organisations and curb workplace accidents as much as possible.
Technology is slowly but surely being adopted to perform regular tasks as it puts an end to human errors. The machines are less likely to be fatigued and carry out repetitive jobs for long hours with competence.
Since the automation of processes cut out the requirement for recruiting and maintaining various human resources, it helps in saving money. Moreover, interestingly, machines do not take leaves as well as require minimal maintenance.
All this lends a helping hand to cut back on the expenditure of both times as well as money. Besides, mechanisation likewise prompts lesser utilisation of ingredients, without influencing the look or taste of the item. It helps fulfill the safety and quality standards identified with the food products.
Ultimately, since the errand is being performed by a machine, there is consistency in the work done and consequently, the shot at slip-ups or holes in food quality or taste is minimized. For instance, traditional Indian snacks such as namkeen, moong dal, and mixtures utilise pumping and extrusion, washing and soaking, weighing and blending equipment, respectively.
Indian sweets such as soanpapdi, barfi, and kajukatli use the portioning lines. These machines offer peace of mind to the operator for uninterrupted and hassle-free operations.
Indeed, even from the point of view of the customer, this move is creating a win-win situation as the decrease in both the financial and time-sensitive expenses for the organisation would ultimately reflect in lesser costs and easier accessibility of food products for the customers.
It would be appropriate to say that technology and automation were already on their high in the food processing industry before the outbreak of the pandemic.
The health crisis just accelerated the process. An ever-increasing number of individuals have come to trust and prefer processed foods and snacks, which have led the food processing industry to soar lately.
In light of the trends, one might say that the industry can anticipate further automation, even in the most intricate of its processes.
Various food processing firms are broadening and extending their product line-up or are intending to do it in the next few years without making any changes to their production cycle. Subsequently, flexible hardware equipped for creating distinctive product types will be preferred.
As the sector turns out to be increasingly more dependent on technology and automation for its several complex processes, both the productivity as well as the profits of the food processing industry are contemplated to rise. For the manufacturer of such food processing tech equipment, the future looks promising indeed.
Edited by Megha Reddy
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)