Executive Chef, Npd
Kohinoor Foods Limited
Unlike the olden days where man used to have his foods lavishly and slowly, the present trends have changed eating habits, with the development of foods which are simple and easy to digest. This is the age of fast to cook and good to eat food products, which has given rise to many eating-out options. With international and domestic restaurant’ chains opening in different parts of the country and abroad, consistency in dishing out menus in various parts of the country has become a challenge.
In the present era – with life running at a fast pace and time as a valuable to every person, RTE & RTC FOODS play an important role in everyone’s day to day life.
The food habits in India have also changed due to western influence and the usage of RTE foods is on the rise – these foods are widely used in hospitality sector, catering industry as well as at homes.
With an increase in disposable income and a wide array of restaurants to choose from, eating out has become a way of life. Thus, RTE&RTC foods have become an easier option. While cooking, RTE&RTC foods provide chefs a variety of ready-to-eat mix options which are easy to prepare, where they are always pressed for time.
RTE & RTC food can be widely defined as “tertiary processed foods which have been prepared commercially for ease of consumption”. These also help chefs of the Hospitality sector to save time in the kitchen. Hence, this trend is fast picking up among chefs in the industry.
A few decades ago, chefs used to make their own spice mix for instant garam masala, ketchup, sauces, dips, and also used to cut meat from the carcass of the animal, but over a period of time, with the development of the processed food industry as well as convenience foods, today various cuts of meat, poultry & game are available as per requirement of chefs and so are ketchups, marinade, pastes and sauces. At all times, RTE&RTC foods help the chefs without diluting their skills.
Retorts technology, introduced by the Defence Food Research Laboratory (DRFL) has also played a vital role in the development of these foods.
A major reason for RTC & RTE foods gaining popularity is the emergence of a new breed of chefs who have understood that in order to satiate the hunger and requirement of customers who are forever on the move and in need of a quick snack, one needs to develop certain food products which are made in a standard manner and do not suffer from deviations. The best example of such food products are French fries, barbecue sauce, tomato ketchups and various other proprietary sauces and condiments, which are available in bottles, can, pouches and sachets. Guests over the world have accepted these tastes.
RTC & RTE foods do not completely replace what is being done in the kitchen, but these help the chefs to innovate, also helping in delivering dishes faster. By using convenience food as a base, signature dishes can be retained along with providing consistency in taste and presentation as well as saving on costs.
A lot of basic stocks and sauces are available in dehydrated forms, which prevents chefs from using age old methods which are time consuming and consume a lot of energy in terms of electricity and CNG. These food preparations help in providing guests with their requirements, especially for certain products which may not be available uniformly throughout the globe due to demographic limitations. Also, they can be kept longer than fresh foods and are easily available throughout the year. The savings can be direct in terms of material costs or indirect like reduction of cooking time, storage space, wastage, power costs etc.
The importance of convenience foods in countries like India can be gauged from the fact that after China, India is the second largest producer of food ingredients. The food processing industry is one of the largest industries in India, the market for semi-processed or cooked and ready to eat foods was around INR82.9 billion in 2004-05 and is rising rapidly with growth rate of 20 percent. It has the potential of growing at the rate of over 10 percent every year, according to a survey conducted by Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).
The survey indicates annual growth of about 40-60 percent between 2011and end of 2015.The Indian Packaged Food industry is likely to touch $30 billion by 2015 from the current level of $15 billion including snack foods, ready to eat foods, healthy and functional foods.
The total processed food market size this year is RS1500 crore, out of which RTC foods capture RS1275 crore and RTE captureRS225crore of the market. At an annual growth rate of 25-30 percent estimated by Tata Strategic Management Group for the next coming five years, the RTE market impact will reach RS 3500 crore by2018.
Manufacturers need to introduce great varieties in their menu and there is a need to expand their reach to small metros and cities of national and international importance. Thus looking at opportunities and challenges which the hospitality sector offers to manufactures of this food sector, it can be said that the future is very promising for both the ‘RTE & RTC’ as well as hospitality sector, where they understand the dynamic of each other and make use of them to their best advantage.