Food Processing Industry: Issues and Developments

38% Indians consume fried snacks and processed foods, only 28% consume healthy food


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Global Food Policy Report 2024

Mains level: Emerging Trends in India related to the consumption of unhealthy food

Why in the news?

A global report highlights a significant rise in unhealthy food consumption in India, surpassing intake of vegetables, fruits, and other nutritious foods.

  • Global Food Policy Report 2024: Food Systems for Healthy Diets and Nutrition was released by “the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)”.

About CGIAR:

  • CGIAR (formerly the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research) is a global partnership uniting organizations engaged in research for a food-secure future.
  • Focus: Its mission focuses on reducing poverty, enhancing food and nutrition security, and improving natural resources and ecosystem services.CGIAR conducts research and partners with other organizations to transform global food systems and ensure equitable access to sustainable, healthy diets.

Emerging Trends in India:


  • Increase in consumption of unhealthy food: There is a significant increase in the consumption of unhealthy foods such as salty or fried snacks compared to nutritious options like vegetables and fruits. About 38% of the population consumes unhealthy foods, while only 28% consume all five recommended food groups.

The consumption of processed foods and ready-made convenience foods is rising. From 2011 to 2021, malnutrition in India increased from 15.4% to 16.6%.The prevalence of overweight adults rose from 12.9% in 2006 to 16.4% in 2016.

Processed food consumption is on the rise in India 

South Asian Highlights

  • Processed Food Consumption: Increasing intake of processed foods like chocolates, salty snacks, beverages, and ready-made meals in India and other South Asian countries.
  • Malnutrition Rates: High levels of undernutrition and micronutrient deficiencies coexist with rising rates of overweight, obesity, and diet-related noncommunicable diseases (NCDs).
  • Food Budget Trends: Packaged food spending in India’s household food budgets nearly doubled from 6.5% to 12% between 2015 and 2019.

Issue of Double Malnutrition:

  • Double malnutrition refers to the coexistence of undernutrition and micronutrient deficiencies with overweight and obesity, or diet-related noncommunicable diseases (NCDs).
  • High levels of undernutrition (stunting and wasting) and micronutrient deficiencies persist even as overweight and obesity rates increase.
  • More than two billion people, especially in Africa and South Asia, cannot afford a healthy diet.

Dietary Guidelines by ICMR:

  • The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) released 17 dietary guidelines to promote healthy eating.
  • Guidelines emphasize reading food labels to make informed choices and minimizing the consumption of high-fat, sugar, salt, and ultra-processed foods.
  • The guidelines highlight the importance of diverse diets over cereal-centric agriculture and food policies.
  • ICMR advises against the misleading information often presented on packaged foods.

Way forward:

  • Strengthen Nutritional Policies: Develop and enforce policies that promote the consumption of nutritious foods. Implement taxes on unhealthy foods and subsidies for fruits, vegetables, and other micronutrient-rich foods.
  • Regulate Processed Foods: Implement strict regulations on the marketing of unhealthy foods, especially targeting children.

Mains PYQ:

Q How far do you agree with the view that the focus on the lack of availability of food as the main cause of hunger takes the attention away from ineffective human development policies in India? (15) (UPSC IAS/2018)

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