Saturday, 21 May 2016

Can farm to fork truly succeed in India?

The farm to Fork Concept has been trending for a very long time now. Farm to fork, very simply put, is the concept of producing food consumables that are locally grown, processed, stored and used in food preparation and delivery. The reason this concept has become very popular is because of the number ONE paramter that drives the success of food industry. Food Safety.  Farm to fork implies that the food is locally sourced, garden fresh with no artificial preservatives being added in the process and hence is purest to consume.  Food prepared using this concept is much safer to consume in comparison to food prepared using processed, preserved ingredients that we normally find in restaurants. Because the ingredients are sourced almost everyday and not stored, the food is expensive as well.

Indian metros have seen the greatest surge in eating out patterns in the last 3 years, with an increase of nearly 60% in QSRs and an increase of 30% in fine dining eating out.  Little however is known that, unless a restaurant openly declares otherwise, the use of MSG, Aritifical sweeteners, Synthetic transfats, High fructose corn syrup, food preservatives are all way common ingredients in their food. These, however,  have been declared as the worst food ingredients to consume. Hence it is not only natural but it is a must that we consume Farm to Fork Food.

In USA, one of the greatest success stories of this concept, the Chipotle food chain had to shutdown nearly 30 of its units across USA because of customer complaints of food borne diseases after eating there. If this can happen in a country where the food regulations, food safety and penalty are so high, then what about Indian food chains that promote this concept?

In India, customer sentiments about food safety is quite relaxed - we do not shy away from eating at street vendors that do not follow any safety norms whatsoever. We are more towards taste and prize than we are towards safety.

With this kind of customer preference and with a very lax service providers base in food supply chain, I would say we are far away from Farm To Fork Concept succeeding in India. We need some trendsetters who can establish a successful way of accomplishing this in India. And then we eat raw greens directly. For this we need to work closely with farmers and some genuine food operators. Until then, Vada Pav Should do.

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