The three-day expo in Kerala witnessed 3,000 trade visitors from the food industry.
At a time when exhibitions are struggling to find footfall, FoodTech Kerala, an expo that showcased the best of food processing and packaging equipment, witnessed over 3,000 trade visitors. These walk-ins comprised three categories: Business owners determined to develop their homegrown brands, budding entrepreneurs enthusiastic about packaging and positioning their products, and NRIs keen on setting up their own food business in India.
Joseph Kuriakose, Director, Cruz Expos, the company which organized the FoodTech Kerala exhibition, makes an interesting observation.
“In the past two years, ever since the start of the pandemic, several Indians who lost their jobs abroad were forced to return home. Fortunately, these Indians have sufficient savings and are looking to invest in a food business. Pandemic or not, people will not stop eating. Work-from-home practices will only increase food consumption. Events like ours serve as a knowledge platform for people getting into the food business,” says Kuriakose.
FoodTech Kerala expo, which was held from January 6 to January 8 in Kochi, has tied up with Kerala Bureau of Industrial Promotion (K-BIP), Kerala Start-Up Mission, Central Institute of Fisheries Technology (CIFT), Kerala Agricultural University and Norka-Roots, a portal which helps ex-pat Keralites who have returned home to set up a business in India.
Although the expo was primarily meant for food processing and packaging companies, several organic food brands exhibited their products.
For instance, Sreeni Farms, a brand owned by Malayalam actor Sreenivasan, displayed an exotic range of products such as Gandhakasala Rice, Wheat Suji Pasta, Wayanadan Dried Ginger, and more.
Khalid KM, Director, Sreeni Farms, says, “A large number of visitors stopped by our stall. People showed keen interest in our organic food items. Many visitors purchased our products. Their enthusiasm and interest showed how much they trusted and valued our brand.”
The expo had interesting keynote speakers like Ani S Das, Executive Director, Centre for Bio Resources & Agricultural Research, Kannur; Dr K.P Sudheer, Professor & HOD of Agricultural Engineering, Kerala Agricultural University; Dr N Anandavally, HACCP Consultant, National Center for HACCP Certification; Dr Dattatreya M Kadam, Principal Scheintist, ICAR-CIRCOT, Mumbai; Sreekumar, Deputy Director (Retd.), Coconut Development Board, Kochi; Dr Sreelakshmi, Scientist, ICAR-CIFT, Kochi; Swapna Serene, BUB Development Manager, The Federal Bank Ltd, Kochi.
Das shared some interesting insights. “Entrepreneurism is synonymous with youth. This isn’t true. There are people above the age group of 60 who want to explore and venture into new business opportunities,” he says. Das cited a case of a woman in her 80s who has been supplying paneer to several neighbourhood restaurants.
In her keynote session, scientist Sreelakshmi shed light on consumer preferences for fish products. Elaborating on the modification and value addition to fish products, she said that there is a demand for coated products like cutlets and nuggets. “Consumers are also looking at fish curry in restorable pouches,” she says.
Most sought-after exhibitors
The FoodTech Kerala expo had an interesting lineup of exhibitors.
The most crowded stall at the expo was Edco, a wafer cone manufacturing company, which has come up with interesting flavours and variants, sought after by restaurants and cafes. “We get queries from innovative chefs. For instance, we have come up with edible cone wafer cups to serve tea, coffee or milk shakes. Once the customer is done consuming the beverage, he or she can munch the flavored wafer cup as well,” says Rohan Pamnani, Proprietor, Edco.
Other interesting exhibitors include MRT Organic Products, a brand which exports flavor serums and oils to different parts of the world; Kerala Remedies that supplies its wellness products to high-end spas and resorts, frequented by international travellers; Galaxy Sivtek that provides machinery for sieving and filtering to brands like Parle, Cadbury, MDH, GRB, and Amul.
Trade visitors also stopped by stalls like Kadco, a company that manufactures batch coding machines, and Xpress Labels, the largest label maker in South India.
The overall response to FoodTech Kerala expo was positive. From the looks of it, Year 2022 looks optimistic for food businesses.