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Challenges and opportunities in the baked snacks industry
Saturday, 27 June, 2020, 16 : 00 PM [IST]
Norina Fernandes
Food industry is experiencing tremendous expansion with the continuing growth spiral in RTE foods, pre-mixed foods,  ready-to-eat energy bars.  Baked goods in the snacking industry witness growth rate due to their health benefits over fried foods. Currently, the 2020 population is about 7.2 billion people from which the consumption of food by common people is unhealthy leading to food-borne illness. Food systems limitations - People suffer from hunger, malnutrition, and obesity .In future, if we predict the population will be triple the existing figure, people will strive to get essential nutrients from food. Due to changes in the food system, there is a lot of change in people's lifestyle. Hence there are some readily available foods which are the best and easily available to people.

Due to changing healthy lifestyles,  common man switched to baked food products over fried goods. Vada pav and samosa being the best examples which every Mumbaikar enjoys eating .Earlier where people had no option than to control their hunger pangs by eating street side fried vada pav and samosa, which amongst 10 in 100 people suffer from illness due to these fried foods produced unhygienically and reuse of oil. Reason for illness is fried foods consist of high peroxide value above 40 meq/kg, which indicates that the oil used if not fresh has been used repeatedly hence oxidation level turns high. Keeping in mind such cases, food technologists started developing techniques to get rid of unhealthy food processing techniques which is for the welfare of the people.

Artisan bread being the best example for exploring baking technique which includes bread prepared using varieties of flour and customised to different shapes -  Leaf shaped,  Dome  shaped, Honeycomb shaped and so on. Bagels are the best baked goods consumed on a large scale.

The world's oldest oven was discovered in Croatia in 2014 dating back 6,500 years ago. The ancient Egyptians baked bread using yeast, which they had previously been using to brew beer. Bread baking began in ancient Greece around 600 BC, leading to the invention of enclosed ovens. Opportunities in baking industries have led to development of stuffed breads including cheese - garlic stuffing, stuffing with cream, fruit filling in Danish bread and then baking, the mouth melting dish ever.

Par baked technique is also one of the strategies used to achieve longer bread shelf-life .Extending the shelf-life of bakery products has been an important requirement resulting from the mechanisation of this industry and the need to increase the distance for the distribution of final products, caused by the increase in production and consumer demand.

Par baking is a cooking technique in which a bread or dough product is partially baked and then rapidly frozen for storage. The raw dough is baked normally, but halted at about 80% of the normal cooking time, when it is rapidly cooled and frozen. This technology consists of two procedures - the first baking step, in which the crumb structure is set without coloration of the crust and secondly in which the crispy crust is formed and the crumb is softened.

Human being consumes food which is high in fat, salt, sugar having an impact on health and environment. When it comes to ensuring food trust some of the challenges prevailing for snack foods keeping in reference requirements of people - sugar-free baked goods , product with gluten-free produce .

Innovations: Despite the challenges faced by bakery cafés, the concept has a strong footing in the market today, and looks set to grow in several cities, adding multiple brands to its fold. The bakery industry would enjoy more innovative ideas and concepts, and is expected to grow with the growing awareness and a flourishing economic environment.

Some of the challenges relevant to baked snacks in food industry include
Regulatory Requirements going Stringent
Regulatory part is the heart of the food industry to ensure food being delivered is safe, legal. Maintaining food regulatory practices allow bakers manage risk associated with everyday procedures. Regulations to ensure baked goods used only approved additives for example: improvers, emulsifying agents-stabilising agents single or in combination, acidity regulators .

Addition of all these should be as approved GMP list.
Aspects involved in food and bakery regulatory landscape include:
Good manufacturing practices and plant hygiene prerequisite programmes
Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points
Food labelling
Food Defence

Supply chain - supply of resources
With globalisation, the supply chain must be carefully monitored to ensure imports meet food safety regulations and are free from tampering. To get resources from approved vendors which have specifications similar to the existing product .There are also issues due to seasonal variation in crop, leading to changes in product. Competition amongst units to buy raw material, non-availability of raw material, poor quality of raw material.

Expensive raw ingredients: Rising prices of flour (maida), the major ingredient, and other raw materials, oils, fats, eggs and so on.

The price-sensitivity of the market.

Lack of brand goodwill: Another marketing problem which the units have reported to be facing is the lack of brand goodwill. It implies that their product brand has not received much public acceptance. It reveals that 52% of food processing industries as a whole are facing this problem.

Inadequate publicity through mass media: Mass media exposure is an essential ingredient for the smooth growth of an industry. It helps entrepreneurs to plan their activities in accordance with market trends, introduce goods to suit consumers' tastes and get consumers informed of their product through advertising. To overcome the challenge of rising production costs, many national and international companies have come forward with solutions to reduce the production costs by offering on-site trial demonstrations, which would reduce the percentage of gluten, fat, eggs and oil used in the recipe. Above all these, it should be quality over quantity always .Quality of product and time by delivery of the product to customers is the key factor to run continuously of any food industry.

(The author is quality assurance executive at Candor Foods Pvt. Ltd, Navi Mumbai. She can be contacted at norinafernz1004@gmail.com)

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