Research activities in the food area are invariably are confined to government funded institutions under the CSIR, DRDO and some universities. These institutions also undertake training programs for churning out technical personnel for the food industry. To add to the existing research infrastructure, GOI is reported to be building another food technology R & D and training institution, in spite of the proven inadequacy and irrelevance of the existing redundant set ups under its wings. How the Indian food industry is managing its technical and technological needs is another issue that is both intriguing and baffling. While most of the big players improvise their quality control facilities for developing new products, it is the small scale and micro enterprise sectors which are left with no choice but use their common sense in staying in business rather than depending on GOI research research outfits. Under such an environment it is some what a pleasant surprise to see the establishment of a high investment R & D center of international standards by one of the joint venture food companies in collaboration with the foreign partner. Though it is a captive set up, the opportunity provided for home grown food technologists for exposure to global quality research activities need to be acknowledged.
"FieldFresh Foods , joint venture of the Bharti Enterprises and Del Monte Pacific Ltd, on Tuesday inaugurated their Research & Development and manufacturing facility here at an investment of Rs 115 crore.
The facility is the first-of-its-kind in India with beverage and processed food production under the same roof with the band name Del Monte. "The inauguration of the new facility clearly heralds a new phase of development for brand Del Monte in the processed food and beverages category in India. This investment underlines FieldFresh Foods' commitment of delivering world class products of great quality and taste for the discerning Indian consumers and raising the standards of the industry", Bharti Enterprises Vice-Chairman and Managing Director Rakesh Bharti Mittal said in a statement here. "Going forward our vision is to make Del Monte as one of the top 10 brands in the processed food and beverage industry over the next few years," he added. The facility with an initial investment of Rs 115 crore is spread across 21.4 acres and would produce fruit drinks. Besides, the facility would also process fruit drinks at the rate of 300 cans and 200 'PET' bottles per minute and over four tonnes per hour of culinary products, it said".
It was some years ago that GOI offered tax incentives by way of weighted deductions for industries to set up in-house research facilities with the hope that it will strengthen the technical base of the processors and help to diversify the product portfolio for improving business. For unknown reasons this facility was discontinued and industry seems to be happy in importing technologies, often along with fully operational plants or employ foreign consultants to solve their technological problems. This is at best a short sighted policy and privatization of food research can have many advantages. Even the existing government R & D organizations can be considered for privatization with stakes being offered to the industry. There are many such models which are operating successfully in the EU and the the US which can be emulated in India too for the benefit of the low technology driven food industry in the country.V.H.POTTY