Kerala food-based SMEs explore ‘ready-to eat’ market

Kochi Feb 5: Tapping into the growing demand for ‘ready-to-eat’ food in India as well as abroad a number of SMEs from Kerala have forayed into the market and are gearing up to compete with multi-national companies, as is evident from the variety of products showcased at the ongoing Business-to-Business Meet organized here by the state’s Department of Industries and Commerce.

Products promoted as being healthy and free of chemical additives are gaining particular attention. The items range from frozen and non-frozen Indian curries, snacks including samosas, rolls cutlets to ethnic Kerala products like ‘Kozhukatta’ (sweet rice dumpling), ‘Ela Ada’ (steamed flat dumpling) and ‘Parippu Vada’ (Lentil fritter), sweets and instant mixes.

The B2B Meet at the CIAL Trade Fair & Exhibition Centre at Nedumbassery brings together around 200 SMEs from across Kerala and nearly 490 buyers from India and abroad. The largest representation is from the state’s food processing industry with 80 exhibitors.

“It is often a misconception that we have to sacrifice taste for healthy foods,” said N P Rafeeque, the Director of Jhivras, a company that specializes in food and snacks made of nutritive ingredients. “We offer a wide range of popular snacks which have nutrient content higher with the same taste quotient.”

“We are familiar with samosas wrapped in maida (refined flour) and deep fried. However, we have developed a base flour mix that uses millets such as ragi and other nutritional products. Moreover, the products are steam fried in machineries that use German technology. They retain the same crispiness as deep-fried snacks,” he added.

Also on display across the stalls are natural fruit jams, appetizers, juices and pickles. Bottled tender coconut water and soft drinks with ethnic Kerala flavours are in great demand.

“Tender coconut water, which has high nutritional value, is always popular. We preserve it with bio-enzymes and do not add any chemicals. It can be preserved for up to seven months at normal room temperature,” said Sathish T, Managing Director, Sip-O-Nut, which manufactures packaged drinks.

“Irrespective of the geography, health is always a matter of concern in food consumption,” said P M Francis, Director, Department of Industries and Commerce. “The increase in demand for healthy food has prompted many of the entrepreneurs to introduce innovative natural and healthy products. We have seen huge footfalls at these stalls.”

K-BIP is the nodal agency for the event, which is organised in association with the Directorate of Industries & Commerce, Directorate of Handlooms & Textiles, Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC), Kerala Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (Kinfra) and FICCI.


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