Mettler-Toledo – Food safety and packaging in India

Sanjoy Mallik, General Manager of Mettler-Toledo in India Photo Mettler-Toledo

Metter-Toledo is a leader in checkweighing and inspection systems for food packaging. It is well established in India and works with the food processing and packaging industries. Naresh Khanna, Editor of Packaging South Asia, recently had the opportunity to interview Sanjoy Mallik, General Manager of Mettler-Toledo in India.

Packaging South Asia – Please comment on food safety in general and packaged foods in particular. Do the FSSAI guidelines and regulations address the safety issues or do the guidelines need to be expanded in some areas? To what extent should the industry exceed the regulatory requirements and structures and how can this be achieved most economically.

“Mallik” Sanjoy. As an emerging market, India is experiencing growing demand for both domestic and exported packaged foods. With increased domestic consumption of processed and packaged food driven by lifestyle changes and a renewed focus on product safety as a result of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, several new local and international packaged food players are entering or expanding the country their activities in India.

With regard to food safety issues, food manufacturers continue to pay close attention to biological and chemical contamination. In this regard, there is always scope to increase the focus on physical contamination. More importantly, new actors become familiar with food safety laws and have a better understanding of the infrastructure required to comply in an affordable / sustainable way.

Currently, food safety is in good hands with the FSSAI. It has worked effectively in recent years to speed up and simplify the approval process without compromising food safety laws. Don’t just have that FSSAI supported the industry, but they have also increased public awareness of food safety and legal metrology laws. They have actively worked with industry leaders to set new benchmarks for food safety (biological, chemical and physical contamination) and legal metrology laws for packaged food products.

The food industry can exceed regulatory requirements by further developing its quality management programs, carrying out regular audits and tests and setting benchmarks that are above those prescribed by the regulatory framework. The industry can also assist regulators by training auditors on the latest food manufacturing practices, equipment and trends.

Packaging South Asia – What are the broader food processing and packaging market trends in India? We all hear that there has been a surge due to the pandemic, but what’s the long-term trend? If the pandemic has accelerated long-term trends, what and are there specific examples? What notable trends has MT discovered?

After the pandemic, we’ve seen an increase in the opportunities directly related to an increase in consumption. This has also improved the brands’ presence on all channels (online and offline) and increased affordability (acceptance in the rural market is increasing). Meanwhile, the Indian government has banned the sale of certain products in bulk and the general public has become more aware that packaged products should be purchased to avoid contamination.

These trends will remain, and most FMCG companies have started to focus on these opportunities. Companies are paying more attention to automation to increase productivity and efficiency and reduce human intervention. All of these trends will result in an increase in overall production, improved efficiency, and a reduction in rejects and overcrowding. This in turn requires more online, high-speed, reliable, and repeatable inspection equipment.

According to data released by Nielsen, the FMCG market in India grew 7.1% in October-December 2020 (9% in November and December) and 9.4% in the first quarter of 2021, the third consecutive quarter of growth , driven by food, health, sanitation and rural areas. In the period July-September 2020, the FMCG market grew by 0.9%. These numbers exclude eCommerce. Adding the sales from this channel, the FMCG growth for July-September and October-December is 1.6% and 7.3%, respectively.

Other trends are –

  • Personal care is also picking up again, driven by channels like e-commerce.
  • The hygiene and immunity building categories are also continuing to grow.
  • In 2020, basic food consumption increased by 18%
  • Rural markets continued to show double-digit growth, accelerating to 14.2% in the fourth quarter of 2020 from 10.6% in the third quarter of 2020.

Packaging South Asia – How does the MT organization work in India? What is his domain knowledge in food safety and packaging safety? How has it been localized over the years? How deep is it in terms of local research, engineering, parts, service, and how did it work during the pandemic, at a time when food and pharmaceutical processing and packaging units are considered essential suppliers.

“Mallik” Sanjoy. As a technology partner, Mettler-Toledo works with most of the world’s food companies to set their food safety parameters in relation to foreign object contamination programs. Mettler-Toledo has been present in India for over 20 years and has developed skills in pre-sales consulting, engineering and post-sales support.

We have two state-of-the-art competence centers in Mumbai for customer training, product tests and the internal expansion of our sales and service teams. Our network of well trained service technicians is located near most industrial clusters across India. An in-house technical support team assists the engineers. All customer service inquiries are managed centrally via a modern call management system with SAP. We invest considerable effort in training our customers so that they can use our devices optimally. We also scientifically analyze our installed base and plan our spare parts stocks in order to achieve maximum availability for our customers.

Packaging South Asia – What is Mettler-Toledo doing to become part of Industry 4.0 and how do you help your customers to keep up with these opportunities and developments?

“Mallik” Sanjoy. In view of the increasing need for digitization, Mettler-Toledo is investing heavily in Industry 4.0. Most of our devices are Industry 4.0-capable and can be integrated into all MES systems. At the beginning of this year we released a new important software update (version 2.4) of ProdX, our product inspection management software. With improved security features, digital track & trace, automatic performance checking and real-time logging of test and compliance data, ProdX offers complete digital track & trace and real-time food safety compliance.

To expand and update customer knowledge, Mettler-Toledo offers a wide range of online and offline educational programs including seminars, webinars, live demos, white papers, and application stories.

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