Rapid urbanization and changes in social and cultural practices have modified the food habits of the community. Industrial development in Indian cities has compelled labour from villages to migrate to cities in search of employment. It is estimated that within the next ten years, half of world’s population will be living and working in urban areas. Increase in buying power and long hours spent away from home commuting to work places, make convenience foods a necessity in every home. Convenience Food:
Convenience food is commercially prepared food designed for ease of consumption. Products designated as convenience foods are often prepared food stuffs that can be sold as hot, ready-to-eat dishes, as room-temperature, shelf-stable products or as refrigerated or frozen products that require minimal preparation (typically just heating). These products are often sold in portion controlled, single serve packaging designed for portability for "on-the-go" eating. Convenience food can include products such as candy beverages, soft drinks , juices, milk, fast food, nuts, fruits and vegetables in fresh or preserved states, processed meats and cheeses, and canned products such as soups and pasta dishes are also included. Need:
Most food consumed in developed countries is in the form of convenience foods. Convenience foods are foods that require little labour and time to prepare. A packet green pea is a convenience food since it requires no shelling. A packet of whole wheat flour is also convenience food as it has been already been milled. A packet instant idli mix is mare of convenience food, and ‘ready to eat’ or ‘heat and eat’ foods like chicken keema matar or canned palak paneer are mast convenient since they need to further cooking. Many different types of convenience foods are available in market today. The speed and efficiency of cooking and service increases dramatically with the use of convenience foods, giving the caterer, homemaker, or working professional more time to develop other activities. The convenience food revolution is possible because of wide variety of chemicals which are added to food not only to preserve it but to enhance its overall quality. These numerous chemicals, tested and permitted by law to be added to food are called food additives. Convenience foods generally contain some level of preservatives to prevent spoilage and thus last longer “on the shelf" and thus have the advantage of a longer shelf life, and thereby contains its costs further. There are also significant economies of scale with convenience foods, since the value proportion is that they can be prepared with minimal effort often only by simple re-heating, thus translating into the further benefit that a bulk quantity can often be stocked. Many convenience foods are available in cans or other special plastic packaging, allowing them to be frozen or chilled. Today convenience foods are being specially packed for caterers and are available in large catering packs. Manufacturers of specialized food supplies pack foods that it fits into standard catering equipment, e.g., catering packs that fit in to vending machines. The caterer can choose between smaller packs and larger packs that are economical. Convenience foods vary widely in their palatability, nutrient content and cost. The consumer can choose from a bewildering display of snacks, soups, sauces, fruit chunks and juices, desserts, meat and vegetable preparations gravies in the ready to eat and ready to cook form. They need to be warmed up in a microwave before they are served. The preservation, or canning, of fruits and vegetable in the early 1900s was the predecessor to the convenience food market. Large quantities of food could be stocked in cans and used only as required and the convenience food market emerged as a major industry by the early 1960's. There is now available a broad range of convenience foods including...