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FOOD PROCESSING

Fermented products likely to take healthy food sector to $690 bn by ’23
Saturday, 03 August, 2019, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Juily Wagle
With the rise of the health-conscious millennials, the demand for healthier food and beverages (FNB) is increasing, driving this industry towards more sustainability and transparency. Fermented foods are the next mega trend set to take this segment to a whopping $690 billion by 2023.

The FNB market is growing at an extraordinary rate across the globe, especially in the American, European, and the Asia-Pacific regions. Food manufacturers are cashing in on emerging opportunities in the FNB market and are bringing in innovation to expand their product line.

Now, items like kombucha, sauerkraut and kefir feature on supermarket dairy shelves, and as a part of regular menus in many multi-cuisine restaurants and health food studios around the world.

This trend has already taken Europe by storm and is picking up fast in India. The millennial consumers are more than ready to experience new foods that are closer to nature.

According to a survey, one in every two millennials look for novel taste, texture and flavour in what they consume. And they are favouring fermented products for all the right reasons.

Is your gut feeling fine?
The process of fermentation, a natural chemical reaction by which yeast, or bacteria convert carbohydrates to alcohol or organic acids in an oxygen deficient environment gives a unique taste, aroma and flavour to food.

The presence of these beneficial microorganisms in fermented foods is responsible for the broad spectrum of health benefits they offer. For starters, they are packed with good bacteria that are essential for a healthy digestive system.

The intake of fermented foods helps cure diarrhoea, bloating, gastric problems and constipation. Prebiotic foods such as sauerkraut have high fibre content and promote growth of microbial strains that keep your gut working properly.

Fermented foods such as kefir, tempeh, and miso provide plenty of nutrients and help to strengthen your immune system. They are also rich in calcium (kefir), B-group vitamins (kombucha) and Omega 3 and 6 (tempeh and other probiotics) that helps in controlling blood pressure and lowering the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Fermented foods are also ideal for diabetics and weight watchers as their high fibre content helps in lowering appetite, making you feel full for longer.

Fermented foods can be classified as follows, according to the type of microbes:
 
  • Bacterial ferments: Kimchi, sauerkraut and yoghurt
  • Bacterial/yeast ferments: Kombucha, kefir and sourdough bread
  • Yeast ferments: Wine and beer
  • Mold ferments: Miso, tempeh, blue cheese and sake

The demand for fermented foods
One of the biggest trends driving change in every industrial segment, particularly in the food industry, is the desire for transparency. A survey carried out in Europe showed that consumers were willing to pay more for products that had greater transparency in terms of their ingredients.

Given the greater consumer awareness, there is a surging demand for natural substances. People are beginning to associate gut health with overall wellbeing.

Purchasing decisions are influenced by greater motivation towards health and wellbeing. The new age consumer is in the habit of reading labels. People are moving away from processed foods that contain artificial or nature-like chemical flavours and want products with fewer ingredients.

Consumers are looking for clean labels, and brands with high ethical values and sustainable offerings are gaining popularity.

The emphasis is on naturally processed, plant-based foods that carry maximum nutrient value. And this further gives impetus to the demand for fermented foods.

The way forward
There is immense potential for fermented goods in less developed areas of the world. Food research pioneers are successfully churning out new microbial cultures that are specially created for plant-based products.

This is an avenue that can vastly help the seafood, poultry and meat processing industry as well to put together clean labels that are devoid of harmful chemicals.

The world now needs innovative food products, natural ingredients and sustainable packaging to keep live cultures intact.

Companies are taking advantage of this competitive environment and are adopting innovative methods to expand their product line.

Newer, more exotic products are emerging at regular intervals and giving consumers a chance to indulge their taste buds in healthy foods and beverages.

(The author is a fitness and nutrition expert.)
 
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