Why Local Produce is the Future of the Food Industry
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The love for food can only be matched to few things in the world. With countless options to choose from, it often becomes difficult to zero in on the food you want to consume. But given that we spend most of our time outside, we need to be more conscious of what we consume.
While junk is an easy option, it’s not a healthy one. Slowly but steadily, players in the food industry, be it new age pop up restaurants, or luxury dining spaces, are all realizing the need to focus on healthier produce. This grows the stress on unprocessed and preservative-free ingredients, which industry insiders are harping upon now, like never before.
The Economics of Sourcing
Even though prices of gourmet meals may have escalated, the economics of sourcing foreign produce in bulk does not strike an immediate chord with all new age food players. The cost of storing imported ingredients, barring dried spices, are rather high, leading to an immediate escalation in the overall price of the food.
“There was a time some years back when I would request shipment for a couple of hundred kilos of imported meat like pork because firstly there were fewer sourcing options here and the demand was high for the so called imported meat,” said Anthony En Yuan Huang, Executive Chef, JW Mariott Bengaluru. “There is still demand, but now sourcing locally has becoming much easier and the produce is much fresher and better. It’s not necessarily always cheaper, but mostly it’s better,” he added.
A Healthier Option
When the local produce approach is adopted, the food you get is of the highest quality with no drop-off in flavour or nutritional value, which naturally happens after long periods of refrigeration and transportation. Chef Huang describes how luxury dining places like the one he cooks for have also adopted this focus.
“The focus for us is to use fresh produce not only because they act as much better ingredients but, also a healthier option,” he said.
Moreover by reducing the transportation required to move the goods halfway across the country or even beyond the borders, the overall carbon footprint by the food industry also decreases.
Reinventing dishes with local substitutes
Food lovers are always on the hunt for trying newer and better dishes. And global platters with cuisines like Italian, Lebanese, Thai, Korean and Japanese have picked up greatly over the years in India. Vikas Seth, Chef & Culinary Director, Embassy Leisure and Entertainment Projects feels, international cuisine can be redefined by using local ingredients.
“For me the excitement has always been to use local ingredients in global dishes. Long before avocados were available we still made good salads that reflected a global flavour. Also find substitutes among local ingredients for imported ones, it will not only enhance the creavity of the dish but also serve the purpose of using fresh produce,” he said.