Friday, February 10, 2012: 12:03:21 PM

Food Processing Poll Feature

RTCs taste different

In spite of the taste factor, ready-to-cook items are gradually gaining momentum in the Indian market

In spite of the best advertising efforts and claims that the ready-to-cook (RTC) palak paneer mix will taste exactly like the traditional dish, most eaters would feel that there remains a basic difference in the taste. One of the biggest reasons for such difference is the use of preservatives and other artificial ingredients to enhance the shelf life and flavours of the foods.

It is also important for RTCs to appear the same as the home cooked meals and for this the processors need to add artificial food colours, which further impacts taste. While heating in excess or below requirement can lead to change of taste and flavour, it can also cause complex chemical reactions that can impact the nutritional aspect of the food.
A recent survey by FoodProcessing360 saw 100% voters unanimously agreeing that the taste of RTC foods did make it different from the home made dishes. The processed food tag will therefore take a long time to shed for the RTCs and therefore the acceptance of the food category into the Indian consumers’ food habits will take longer.
According to Dubai based engineer Sabyasachi Sarkar, “I collect as many traditional Indian RTC mixes as possible when I come to India. It reminds me of home food. However in India, we rarely eat that as we get meals cooked at home.”
However, there are several positives of RTC’s entry into the food habits of the Indian consumer. For one, it has helped thousands to get a taste of their home food sitting thousands of kilometres away. It has also enhanced the hygiene factor in processed foods.
Dr V H Potty, food technologist and chairman of Diversified Food Technologies (India), Mysore, explains “These products faithfully represent the original fresh preparations with least distortion of flavour and taste. Who could have thought a few years ago that the famous Indian pulav could be preserved for more than 9 months or for that matter the south Indian delicacy bisibelebath for almost a year? Curry preparations like sambar, rasam, dal, aloo gobi, aloo palak, chole, paneer muttar, avail and kootu are today preservable for as long as a year. The country must salute the pioneering scientists whose committed work has resulted in making available these products to the Indian consumers in India as well as in other countries on a platter”
With time therefore the penetration and consumption of RTCs is likely to go up.
Tias Chakraborty

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