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Putting processed food on top shelf

P.T. Jyothi Datta

NEW DELHI, July 14

FOR all those equating processed food with junk food, here's something to chew on. The Department of Food Processing Industries (DFPI) is embarking on an advertising blitzkrieg to bust the myth, associating processed food with fast food.

The generic campaigns, highlighting the unique selling proposition (USP) of processed foods, will seek to focus on the all-season availability of processed food, as against the seasonal limitations of fresh fruits and vegetables, DFPI sources told Busine ss Line.

Consumers will now be enlightened on the health aspects of fruit juice or the benefits of protein-rich mushroom, for example, courtesy DFPI's propaganda through the DAVP (Department of Audio Visual Publicity).

"Food processing is all about adding value, and so the campaigns would communicate the fact that one can have their favourite fruit or vegetable, even if it is off-season. The department will further seek to propagate that processed foods are also health y," the source said.

DFPI sources pointed out that the need to undertake a proactive role to promote processed food was prompted by the fact that consumer demand for processed food was static.

"Unlike the developed markets, where processed food is popular, somehow in India, people have associated processed food with junk food and, thus, the demand seems to have stagnated. A static demand reflects in a reduced offtake of products and, as a resu lt, entrepreneurs suffer as they are not able to sustain their sales and growth," the official said.

DFPI, under the aegis of the Ministry of Agriculture, has earmarked a budget of Rs 2 crore this fiscal for its promotional campaign, via both the print and electronic mediums. The print campaigns are slated to break in another two weeks, while the electr onic campaign is expected to take more time.

The department is also exploring different avenues, while sifting through agencies, before deciding on the electronic campaign and its target consumers.

The installed capacity of fruit and vegetable processing industries in the country increased from an estimated 21 lakh tonnes in 1999 to 21.10 lakh tonnes in 2000. The production of processed fruits and vegetables increased from 9.8 lakh tonnes in 1999 t o 9.9 lakh tonnes in 2000. In the same period, the number of licences issued under the Fruit Products Order (FPO-1955) increased from 5,198 to 5,293, the source said.

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