BY SAJAD MOHAMMED WANI
Food technology is a field that combines the aspects of science, engineering and nutrition to improve the quality, safety and sustainability of food products and processes. It involves study of characteristics of food, its nutritional composition, reactions and changes that take place at various levels of processing and storage, microbiological aspect of food to prevent spoilage and enhance shelf life. Food technologists aim to develop new products or technologies to improve the present scenario of food processing industries. Besides a food technologist is also involved in the safety and regulatory aspects of the developed product, inspection and accreditation of the food plant.
India has achieved self-sufficiency in food production and is now moving towards nutritional security. Due to increase in consumer awareness, people are mindful about the safety, quality and nutritional aspects of food they eat. The food processing industry has to satisfy the aspirations of consumers by making then available safe and wholesome food. This is where the role of food technologists comes in. Food processing is a sunrise industry and provides promising career opportunities to the young generation. However, one has to acquire the required skills and possess detailed knowledge of the subject for working in the industry.
Job opportunities for food technologists
During the last 5 years, food processing sector has been growing at an average annual growth rate (AAGR) of around 11.0 per cent as compared to around 4.0 per cent in agriculture. Food processing sector has also emerged as an important segment of the Indian economy in terms of its contribution to GDP, employment and investment. Food industry contributes to around 14% of manufacturing GDP and 13 % of India’s total food exports. Food and grocery retail market in India is the largest in the world valued over 500 billion. Due to population, growth, urbanization and changing consumer preferences, the market is projected to increase. Therefore, there is a high demand of trained food professional in both government and private sector. One can enter these areas after graduation or post-graduation in Food Technology.
Some of the job profiles include food product development scientists, quality assurance manager, food safety specialist, food processing engineers, research and development scientists, sensory analysts, food packaging technologist, food regulatory specialists, food consultants, food safety auditors, nutritionist and dietician, food analyst in food testing laboratories and academic or researcher.
Food processing sector is very dynamic and involves numerous interlinked activities from raw material handling, processing, and machinery operations to quality control for the products. Several types of companies offer career opportunities to food technologists which mainly include food manufacturing companies, food research laboratories, food quality & certification organizations, food packaging companies, food machinery & instruments manufacturing companies, flavour houses, agricultural commodities export ventures and food wholesalers.
Owing to the dynamic scope of trends in food science and technology, there is growing demand of food innovations at global level that continues to rise. Ensuring the safety and quality of the processed products is of paramount importance. Sustainability of food systems, decrease in food waste, health and nutrition awareness are crucial for the rise of global food industry. Keeping this into consideration, a food technologist can cater all the needs of diversity to be achieved in present industries and future startups. Food technologists therefore are indispensable parts of top private recruitments. Some of the top recruiters are MTR Foods Limited, AMUL, Dabur India Ltd, PepsiCo India Holdings, Britannia Industries Ltd, Nestle India Pvt. Ltd, ITC Limited, Agro Tech Foods, Parle Products PVT Ltd, ITC Limited, Cadbury India, Hindustan Liver Limited, Milk Food, MTR, Nestle India, Godrej Industrial Limited.
With respect to Jammu and Kashmir, there is an abundant availability of raw material in the form of temperate fruits, vegetables, spices, medicinal, plants, meat, and milk. There are several established food processing industries in J&K that are involved in processing of these food products. Besides, there a network of Controlled Atmospheric Stores for handling and storage of fresh horticultural produce. A range of agro-food commodities including apple, saffron, dairy, meat, fish, poultry, spices, walnut etc have been assigned to different districts of J&K under ODOP scheme in order to promote processing of these commodities. Govt. schemes are further expected to give impetus to this sector which will open more opportunities for food technologists.
In career diversity, a wider prospect is being operated by government sector also. Government sector in India also offers some lucrative job opportunities to food technologists. They can get absorbed in organizations like Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Ministry of Food Processing Industries, Food Safety Officer/Food Inspector in State Govt, The Food Corporation of India (FCI), State & Central Food Laboratories, Scientist/Assistant Professor, ICAR (ARS) Scientist, APEDA, MPEDA, NABARD, NAFED, MAFED, BARC.
Pursuing a degree in food technology and gaining relevant experience through internships and research projects, staying updated on industry trends and networking within the field will help the graduates and post graduates to stand out in a competitive job market and open up a wide range of opportunities in ever evolving food industry.
Sajad Mohammedd Wani, Division of Food Science and Technology. He can be reached at: email@example.com