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Compounding challenges

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Despite the high growth track, the bakery industry in India faces many problems, ranging from fluctuation in supply of raw materials and high cost of imported ingredients to shortage of skilled manpower By Archana Sharma

The changing Indian lifestyle has attributed to the increasing demand for baked goods. A report by Research and Markets states that the bakery industry in India has achieved third position in generating revenue among the processed food sector. The market size for the industry is pegged at US$ 4.7 billion in 2010 and is expected reach US$ 7.6 billion by 2015. A large population, abundant supply of raw materials and low capital requirements are some strengths of the bakery segment in India. However, the sector faces challenges in the form of fluctuation in supply of raw material, high taxation as well as its unorganised nature.

Key impediments

The industry’s raw materials being agricultural in nature are exposed to seasonal fluctuations in terms of availability and price movements. Rising competition in the sector due to low capital requirements is another impediment faced by the industry.

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Chef Virender S Datta

Chef Virender S Datta, founder, International Institute of Culinary Arts (IICA), New Delhi believes that India has almost everything, from good chefs to decent technology and with time the Indian market with its huge potential will become even better. “People these days do not want to bake at home, maybe due to lack of time or the unwillingness to go through such a lengthy process when almost everything is available in the market,” he states.

Though India is among the top producers of key raw materials for the bakery industry, Chef Vinesh Johny, managing director and executive pastry chef, Lavonne Academy of Baking Science and Pastry Arts, Bengaluru points out that availability of ingredients is a main issue. “Our chefs are pretty skilled and there are many institutes which provide training in baking, but most of the ingredients are of European origin, like edible flowers and the importing costs are expensive. But to attain speciality in our products, we need to import the core ingredients from outside,” he mentions.

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Raj Kapoor

Raj Kapoor, managing director and CEO, Assocom Institute of Bakery Technology and Management (AIBTM), UP (NCR Delhi), acknowledges that the quality of the product depends a lot on that of the ingredients. Giving an example of the different types of flour available globally, Kapoor states, “In comparison to the rest of the world, where they are specialised and have many variants of flour, the trend is not popular here. We need the ingredient companies to work together and import better and different types of materials.”

Shortage of skilled manpower

The industry today needs well trained bakers and pastry chefs to meet the growing demand. Chef Datta avers that there is an extreme shortage of skilled professionals in the industry. “With the help of our international chef development programme, we are trying to educate and bring our young professionals up to international standards. We try not to take more than 50 students for each batch so that we can provide them all with specialised and personalised training,” he adds. IICA is affiliated to City & Guilds, London and offers various diploma courses, short duration programmes and weekend courses.

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Chef Vinesh Johny

These courses target different segments, for instance the diploma course is for beginners, the sugar art course is for bakers who want to learn better techniques and the weekend courses are for hobby enthusiasts. Lavonne Academy of Baking Science and Pastry Arts is also affiliated to City & Guilds, London. “The Diploma in Patisserie, where we have rigorous 480 hour programme, provides students the understanding and experience to segue effortlessly between creating typical basic puff pastries to making intricate plated desserts.” informs Chef Johny.

In order to take the bakery education to a higher level, AIBTM has recently signed an agreement with the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC). “We will be training over 1.10 lakh people in India over the next 10 years for which we are also looking at opening new centres in different parts in the North East, Maharashtra etc,” states Kapoor.


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