Manipur has been witnessing a rapid growth in the local food market with several food and juices being produced locally over the years. Yet, the local food industry is yet to take over the market. In an effort to help the local packaged food industry capture the state’s market and compete with the packaged food products imported from outside the state, food expert H Daynadhi, from Khagempalli, Imphal West, has been facilitating the local food manufacturers to develop innovative quality food products.
Daynadhi, who has a double Masters’ Degree in Food Technology and Human Nutrition Sciences, has started producing various innovative local food products in his food lab. The food innovation lab was set up on May 8 this year under the banner “Dr Usha Thiyam-Hollander” at Airport Road, Imphal West.
The lab is affiliated to the Corporate Affairs Ministry and is assisted by M Sushila and Daina Pebam, who both have a Masters’ Degree in Food Technology. It is the only food lab run privately in the entire state, he claims.
So far, local food companies are yet to capture the state’s food market. The main reason being packaged food produced by local food companies are low in standard and quality compared to foods imported from outside the state, said Daynadhi. He pointed out the need to ensure quality of the food produced in the market.
Most of the companies are producing foods simply by using the basic formula without undertaking proper research, he said. There are certain scientific and healthy ways to enhance the taste of the food and extend the shelf life of the food products among others.
Talking about various innovations in producing foods which can attract the consumers, he stated that there are varieties of Chakhao Cookie made of black sticky rice such as filling up with jelly, cheese and others using the right method and technology.
Informing that his company has so far developed around 15 varieties of cookies, pickles and juices, he said, “We are not selling the products. We only facilitate the local companies with the methods and technology.”
Mentioning that food processing industries in the state are in the initial stage, Daynadhi said it is the right time to level up the local packaged food companies by improving the quality of the food products with the intervention of science and technology.
Not only developing new types of food, Daynadhi and his team have also been engaged in research on flavour optimisation and shelf-life extension of food which have already been sold in the markets for companies like Ngamok and four others.
Cent per cent of the juices processed and produced in Manipur use artificial food colouring as it is long stable compared to natural colouring, he said. He also said that with the right technology and experiment it is possible to extend the shelf life of the natural colouring juices.
“We are working on it. So far, our ongoing experiment on natural colouring in juices has been stable for almost two months. It is believed that it will be stable for some more months,” he added.
When asked about the challenges faced in producing packaged food, Daynadhi said, the main struggle, while taking up various experiments, is the long process taken in observing the shelf life of the food products.
“With extensive experience, we are ready to sharpen our focus to deal with all the ever-changing needs of the food processing units,” he added.