The installed capacity of fruit and vegetable processing industry has more than doubled to 23.28 lakh tonnes as on April 1, 2004, against 11.08 lakh tonnes in 1993. North India, which has witnessed a substantial growth in the food processing industry, currently processes about one-forth of the fruits, vegetables and milk produced in the region.
According to the government, the factors which contributed to the growth of the sector includes the changing lifestyle of the elite class, the high output of various commodities coupled with fiscal and financial incentives in some states like Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.
However, despite the impressive growth, the utilisation of fruits and vegetables for processing in the organised and unorganised sector is estimated at around two per cent for the total production. While the production of pasta food items has recorded a steady growth in the countrys organised sector, its growth in the unorganised sector has been comparatively higher. Pasta is an important item under the consumer food industry along with other items like breads, cakes, pastries, rusks, pulps, rolls, noodles, corn flakes, rice flakes and ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook products. Cocoa products, biscuits, soft drinks, bear, alcoholic beverages free from molasses and mineral and packaged water also come under the category of consumer food items. Bread and biscuits constitute the largest segment of consumer foods with their yearly production touching about 3.70 million tonnes.
Bread manufacturing is reserved for the small-scale industries sector with 40% of the total bread production in the country coming from the organised sector and the rest from the unorganised sector.