Eating bacon made of mushrooms, or having a sip of cow milk that is not sourced from cows sound like wild feats from a futuristic sci-fi movie, right? Not anymore! It is not a concept but a reality. These and many more are what the promising field of food technology and engineering have to offer to the world.
In fact, most recently, Singapore government approved the sale of lab-grown chicken meat! Why such are discoveries important? They help sculpting a sustainable world. A world where the environment stays protected and our health remains intact.
Food Engineering: Future Scope and Figures
In a matter of three more decades, the human population will reach ten billion people. This will need global food production to scale up by at least 50 percent to meet basic food needs. There lies the scope for food technology, manufacturing, and engineering.
Even though this dynamic engineering field has been around since the 1950s, it is still termed as young and evolving—and scientists claiming that there’s a long way to go still. Recent reports suggest that the food processing industry will surge at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.5 percent.
“The food processing sector is growing globally. A meager 1% growth rate in food processing industries will lead to 5 lakhs direct and 15 lakhs indirect employment” says C Anandharamakrishnan, director, Indian Institute of Food Processing Technology (IIFPT), Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu. The opportunities in the sector involve artificial food development, component research, food collection, supply chain management, cold chain management, etc.
Food Engineering Challenges in India
India is a leader in food production, following only China and the USA. Popular food commodities include pulses, milk, tea, and spices. Even then, India struggles with the lack of food processing ventures, technical support, and infrastructure. This is also associated with huge losses common to the industry.
It is also a result of the whole industry being dependent on the agro-climatic conditions of the country. Devising techniques that can bridge the gap during the lean season is the best way forward. That’s where food technology comes in. With research supporting many hybrid varieties of engineered crops, the day is not far when glut season will also see a field full of harvest.
How Critical is Food Engineering & Technology?
Food engineering and technology is not about breakthrough inventions either. Post-harvest processing, value addition, and trained manpower will also help meet profitable agricultural targets.
Other factors that need attention include sustained food security, farmers' economic upliftment, safe food supply etc.
How to Enroll in a Food Engineering Course?
Graduation, post-graduation, and Ph.D. engineering courses are open for this field. Admissions are via nationwide entrance exams followed by personal interviews. Students for degree courses get shortlisted depending upon their position in the All-India Rank of JEE. Further opportunities depend on both entrance exams and the candidate’s performance in the graduate program.
Scope of Employability in India
The industry is growing tremendously in terms of business opportunities. Major sectors include non-alcoholic/alcoholic beverage industries, dairy and meat companies, ready-to-eat food manufacturers, and the spice processing sector. This is besides food research and development areas. There is also the option of becoming an entrepreneur and setting up your own startup facility.
How Bright are the Future Prospects of Food Engineering?
The government has allocated over Rs 1,185.90 lakh to fund start-ups in food technology. This is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what the future of this industry holds. There is a considerable shift in food evolution that focuses on new product development. This has accelerated research surrounding ingredients and the formulation of various food products. This has further led to complex studies on physical food component and ingredient properties. Recent global trends also have diverted to basic areas like molecular biology and nanoscale science.
Food and Environment: Will the two ever gel well?
From farm to fork, the ecosystem that surrounds food also needs a technological makeover to cut down environmental impact. To start sustainable businesses, here is a motto: What will be beneficial for the planet is what should also be good for business.
Owing to advancements in this brilliant discipline, a person can have cream that does not impact the environment, or meat cuts and seafood developed in labs and have no animal origin. The future of food surely does seem bright!