Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Careers in Food Processing

Food processing is a modern industry that improves distributional efficiency and  the marketing of the food products. It is a branch of food science, which uses a set of methods and techniques to transform raw ingredients into food for safe consumption by humans or animals. The food processing industry existed even during prehistoric period, the technology input to enhance preservation of food, flavor, etc and to reduce the toxins in the food product is relatively new and has revolutionized the entire food industry.
Food processing includes manufacturing, preservation and packaging, processing and canning of different food items. The process involves preparing and converting raw materials into finished goods through actual processing, to be further sold to the final consumers grocers, institutional food services,  over-the-counter at restaurants, and wholesalers. The actual processing uses various methods, such as blanching, crushing, chopping, mixing, or even cooking. It is through food processing that you can find a large variety of food products available in  pantries, cabinets, and refrigerators of every household. 

Course Details
Many courses are available in the area of food processing. One can look for degree, diploma, certificate and short-term programs to become an specialist in food processing. At the degree level, 3-year B.Sc courses in home science/food technology/food science can be pursued after completing 10+2 examination with Physics, Chemistry, and Biology/Maths as main subjects. One can also go for, 4-year B.Tech courses in food technology, with the same eligibility criteria. For further education One can take admission in M.Sc and M.Tech programs in food and nutrition, food technology, home science, and biotechnology, at the post graduate level, running for two years of duration. After completion of the course food technologists can choose their respective fields of specialization, namely, alcohol, sugar, bakery, fruits oil, and vegetables, and so on, through PhD program in food technology, biotechnology, or food preservation. As many as 10-15 institutes in India offer research programs for aspirants.

Career Prospects
Good number of job opportunities are available in in the food processing industry, for fresher and experienced personnel. Jobs can be explored in major sectors of food processing, such as milk products, fruits and vegetables, grains, fisheries, plantation products, confectionery, beverages, packaged/convenience foods, and health foods and supplements. India, alone, has over 35 companies catering to this sector. Dabur India, Agro Tech Foods, ITC Limited, Parle Products Pvt. Ltd., Nestle India Pvt. Ltd., Cadbury India Ltd., PepsiCo India Holdings, Britannia Industries Ltd., Hindustan Unilever limited, and Godrej Industries Limited are the major players. Individuals who have done their majors in food processing can work as toxicologists, packaging bacteriologists, technologists, food cooking machine operators  and tenders, food batch makers, baking and drying machine operators and tenders, trimmers, bakers, fish cutters, and slaughterers and meat packers. Those willing to set up their own firms can expect a wide scope of returns and profits in the domestic as well as international markets.

Institutes Offering
Many institutes and universities are offering course in food processing in India. The major institutes conducting courses and programs in food processing and related fields are: Institute of Chemical Technology (ICT), Mumbai; Fruit Technology Institute, Lucknow; Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI), Mysore; Krish Vishwavidyalaya, Himachal Pradesh; Karunya University, Coimbatore; National Dairy Research Institute at Karnal and Bangalore; Small Industries Services Institute, New Delhi;SRM Institute of Science and Technology, Chennai; MS University, Vadodara; National Sugar Institute (NSI) at Kanpur, Chennai and Kolkata; and Central Institute of Fisheries Education (CIFE) at Barrackpore, Kakinada, Lucknow and Mumbai.

 Remuneration varies largely on the type of industry, skills acquired, geographic location, and educational qualifications possessed. However, as a fresher, one can receive a monthly salary of Rs. 8000 to Rs. 10,000. With about five years of experience, one can fetch an average monthly pay of Rs. 20,000 to Rs. 25,000. Highly qualified professionals with over 10-15 years of experience can earn up to Rs. 50,000 per month. Very good salaries are offered to senior management positions with several years of experience.

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