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Challenges and opportunities prevailing for baked snacks in India
Wednesday, 17 June, 2020, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Payal Karmakar, Srishty
Snack is broadly defined as a small service of food which is consumed not as a proper meal, but in between meals. Snacks include both the ones prepared at home or the processed and packaged ones. 

Snack foods are typically designed to be portable, quick, and satisfying. Processed snack foods, as one form of convenience food, are designed to be less perishable, more durable, and more portable than prepared foods. They often contain substantial amounts of sweeteners, preservatives, and appealing ingredients such as chocolate, peanuts, and specially-designed flavours (such as flavoured potato chips).

A snack eaten shortly before going to bed or during the night may be called a "bedtime snack", "late night snack", or "mid-night snack".

Baked snacks, as the name clearly suggests, are the snacks which are prepared by the process of baking. The most common item which comes to our mind on hearing the word “baked snack” is bread, however there are many more items under this category.

Trends in Baked Industries
The bakery industry in India is experiencing robust growth over 9%, according to a recent report. It's a huge industry employing a large number of people. In fact, with over a million an organised small-scale bakeries and more than 2,000 organised or semi-organised bakeries. The bakery sector is the largest of all the segment of India's food processing sector.

Report released by leading market research company IMARC in March 2019 started that the Indian bakery markets reach a value of $7.22 billion in 2018. The market value is projected to exceed $12 billion within the next five years expanding at a compound annual growth of 9.3% during 2019-2014.

The time now has come for companies like sustenance foods which newly introduced handcrafted granola that is gluten-free, packed with nuts and seeds and sweetened with locally sourced organic honey to flourish. The trend towards healthier bakery items has grown so strong that it is not just new bakeries that are analysed with lighter items. Even traditional bakeries are now bringing in new products to cater to the growing demand for healthier foods.

Opportunities for Baked Snacks in India
Thanks to a growing population and rising income levels, the Indian food sector has one of the strongest growth fundamentals of any industry. For packaged snack foods these fundamentals are complemented by two further growth drivers; convenience and the nation’s eating habits.

With smaller families leading busier urban lives, the time and resources for regular home cooking are rapidly declining. At the same time, longer working hours and lengthy commutes leave less time for regular sit-down meals. Snack foods have been a long-time favourite in the Indian diet and now packaged and branded variants of namkeen, sweets and wafers have become the natural solution to the culinary cravings induced by the modern Indian lifestyle. 

Also, the Indian market is observing the establishment of bakery café chains in the form of Barista, Café Coffee Day and Monginis. The popular biscuit variants in India are glucose biscuits, Marie, cream biscuits, crackers, digestive biscuits, cookies and milk biscuits. As far as the Indian biscuit market is concerned, the shares of the branded and organised sector and the unbranded and unorganised sectors are 60 per cent and 40 per cent respectively. Indian bakery products, especially biscuits, are in great demand in developing countries.

Challenges faced by Baked Snacks in India
Bakers also face a few challenges, such as:
Government regulations;
Demand-supply chain;
Rising prices of flour (maida), the major ingredient, and other raw materials such as oil, fat and eggs, and
The price-sensitivity of the market
Challenges Facing Indian Bakeries
The growth of an industry also brings its own challenges and the most important of them being increasing sufficient capacity to meet the new-age demands. For example, to meet the demand for healthier food, bakery store or shop need to invest in making the facilities more hygienic and also hiring new people with knowledge of such products.
Making facilities hygienic also requires that there should be adequate number of toilets, hand-washing facilities and changing rooms for the workers. According to “Guidance Document on Food Safety Management System” produced by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), it is important for food production facilities to have wash basins, drying facilities (cloth towel should not be used), soap, dustbin, tap and suitable temperature controlled water supply. It also requires the facilities to have sufficient number and separate hygienically designed toilets with proper flushing facilities for male and female employees.
The toilets shall not open directly to the food production area and shall be maintained in neat and clean condition. Getting the right people is another challenge. This is because, traditionally the industry has not put much attention on imparting training on various facets of the industry to make the workforce future-ready. This is not to say that the training institutes in the country are not equipped to impart proper training. But there appears to be a need for the industry to build a culture of regular training and also give emphasis to young aspiring bakers that investing in education to learn the nuances of the bakery industry is worth their time and money.

The increase in demand for fortified items which include fibre, antioxidants, omega-3 oils, and vitamin and mineral fortifications also pose new challenges for the industry. 
“The addition of inclusions to baked products requires modifications to the original product formula, thus creating a new product from an existing one. Such modifications can be challenging to bakers as changes in formulation may result in the need for changes to equipment, processes and ingredient costs,” states the FSSAI document. “The sector reports a strong need for more training institutes which can produce skilled workers who are knowledgeable not only about the trade but are also competent in implementing the food safety and hygiene requirements prescribed in the country’s food laws,” document says.
Innovating new products is another big challenge for industry in view of increasing competition in the market. There is also need to increase awareness about the digital technologies and convenience of social media platforms that can help bakeries in the unorganised sector reach a wider market.

The bakery Industry has its origin in accidental discovery of the barbarians to use smoked food. Over a period of time, man developed expertise in preparing wholesome food not only for consumption but also to gain energy for physical and mental activities.

However, most of the dishes in India and elsewhere in the world, have become more a token of traditions and customs than a question of much needed calories in food resulting into malnutrition. Due to lack of knowledge and improper approach towards nutrition the concept of nutritive diet has not yet been developed amongst the masses. One of the ways to fulfil the nutritional deficiency is to provide foods full of vitamins and protein nourishment to the masses through bakery industry which is a wheat-based industry. Wheat is said to have the highest nutritive value and the baked products made of wheat are very nutritive.

(The authors are from Dairy Chemistry Division, National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal, Haryana)
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