THE SPOT LIGHTS
The 8th World Spice Congress held in Hotel Taj Coromandel, Chennai, had an impressive start in the presence of over 110 overseas delegates and 230 Indian delegates. The Congress was inaugurated on 27th January 2006, by Mr. L. Mansingh, Secretary, Consumer Affairs, Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India.
Delivering the inaugural address, Mr. Mansingh appreciated the supportive measures the Spices Board has extended to the industry to enhance the quality of exports and observed that they need to be continued. He noted that there were no significant efforts in international brand building in the recent years, and in this back drop, the Spices Board’s initiative to launch the new brand of Flavourit in different international markets is a welcome move in the right direction. Compliance to quality has a cost but non-compliance of quality norms results in heavier cost as has been proved by the recent episodes of food safety when contamination was detected. The international buyer should not expect the processors and exporters to absorb the increasing cost of quality compliance.
He further said that major developments have been taken place in evolving an Integrated Food Safety Law in India which took into account of the fact that there were as many as nine different agencies implementing different laws in the country in areas of food safety. Steps to finalise the Integrated Food Law has already been initiated in the Parliament. With its enactment, there would be an independent regulatory authority with uniform standards and therefore enforcement would be less cumbersome and more effective across the country. That by itself would be a major step forward for improving the Food Safety labels in this country, he said.
The sectoral committee of spices and condiments in the Food and Agriculture Department of the Bureau of Indian Standards formulates the Indian standards of spices. The committee has so far formulated 43 standards of which 33 are product standards, seven are methods of standards and three are terminology for spices, methods of samplings etc. Now six Indian standards are totally aligned with ISO standards, another five international standards have been set for adoption of Indian standards. So this is the way in which we are moving the domestic brands to align our standards which have been informed by the International Standards Organisation. Currently the Bureau of Indian Standards has already initiated formulation of international standards for a number of new spices which are now gaining acceptance in the global market. This initiative will facilitate more and more products into market prominence, in the global market place.
Bureau of Indian Standards has already been asked to develop sectoral manual for implementation of ISO 22000. Food safety management system for spices industry and its adoption will instill confidence to the domestic consumers as well as to the international consumers.
Speaking on the occasion, Mrs Purandareswari Member of Parliament and former Board Member, said the contribution of the agriculture to the GDP in India is around 21 percent. She observed that in the present day context, agriculture globally is reflecting two opposite trends. Farmers especially in India are facing the handicaps of cost risk return. The farms in Asia are getting smaller and smaller year after year. At the same time the farms in the west run to several hundreds of hectares. They are greatly supported by wonderful technologies and high subsidies also.
In India alone we have around 630 million people who are depending on agriculture. Eighty percent of the people who are depending on agriculture are small and marginal farmers. In spite of this dominant presence we could achieve only 40 percent of the potential yield and the reasons are inefficient adaptation to local environment, insufficient supply of nutrients and water to crops in soils, inefficient and ineffective control of pest, diseases and weeds and also lack of percolation of scientific research to the fields. She lauded the efforts of Spices Board in the areas of value addition and promotion.
Mr. Anand Kumar Hegde, MP and former member of the Board also spoke on the occasion.
Dr. Rahul Khuller, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Commerce in his felicitation address said the concern for quality needs to be there. But he said parameters fixed should be practical and should be sensible. However those who indulge in adulteration and fraudulent means are to be caught red handed and punished. Dr. Khuller was of the view that Indian spices needs to be promoted world wide and the thrust to promote Indian cuisine should be an integral part of the promotion.
Chairman of the Board, Mr CJ Jose IAS in his presidential address conceded that zero tolerance with respect to illegal additives is a good and necessary policy. He said illegal additives have no business to be present in food products. But he observed that even equipments can err by giving results of contamination and adulteration though actually the material subject to test may be free of all these. Mr Jose said that when the Sudan controversy first erupted, the French authorities were using equipments with detection limit of ten ppm. Today Spices Board uses equipments which the manufacturers claim are capable of detecting Sudan dye at one ppb and quantify to a level of 10 ppb. The cost of an LC MS MS with a quantification level of 10 ppb is almost five times that of an HPLC with a quantification level of 10 ppm. Now the same equipment manufacturers offer advanced versions LC MS MS, which they claim, have detection level much below one ppb that the same entry level MS MS provides but at four times the cost. The European Spice Association in its last meeting concluded that the LC MS MS is capable of providing false positive results at low levels and that testing for illegal dyes should be done only on a more reliable HPCL, the Chairman said.
Mr. Thomas Philip, Chairman of the All India Spices Exporters Forum delivered the welcome address. He said that the Indian exporters have been maintaining good quality standards and are also well aware of the health concerns of people in all countries. Mr S. Kannan, Director Marketing of the Board proposed a vote of thanks.
Earlier the exhibition of the Congress was inaugurated by Dr. Rahul Khuller, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Commerce, Government of India.
Exhibition of Spices
An Exhibition was organized alongside the World Spice Congress in Hotel Taj Coromandel with 21 stalls laid out at the Clive Dupleix Hall to show case the product, process, value addition and technological capabilities achieved by the Indian Spice Industry.
The Exhibition was inaugurated by Dr. Rahul Khuller IAS, Joint Secretary Ministry of Commerce & Industry. Stalls were set up M/s. Inpack Fabrications, Hyderabad, Rajama Exports, Chennai, Chhatariya Dehydrates Exports, Bhavnagar, Gujarat, ITC Ltd- ILTD Division, Guntur, National Masala Mills, Delhi, Vaj Exports, Mumbai, Malladi Agro systems, Hyderabad, Kaps Engineers, Vadodara, Paras Spices, Moga, Punjab, AIMS Agro Products, Rajkot, Ramdev Exports, Sola, Ahmedabad, Nani Agro Products, Erode, Tamil Nadu, Suresh Exports, Nagpur, Pardes Dehydration, Rajkot, Able Manufacturers, Hyderabad, Pest Control India Pvt. Ltd, Mumbai, PDS Organic Spice factory, Peermade, Idukki, Janak Dehydration, Mumbai, Jabs International, Mumbai, Kirit Food Products, Mumbai, besides Spices Board.
The Business session of the eighth World Spice Congress deliberated on the theme ‘Food Safety in Spices- Challenges and Opportunities’. The Sessions were structured into two Sessions. The first Session was mainly on Food Safety and the second session focused on Crops and Markets.
The Business Sessions started of with an introduction by Ms. Sushama Sreekantath, Chairperson of the Business & Conference Committee of the World Spice Congress. She focused on food safety, quality, emerging technology and post harvest techniques.
The first session was chaired by Mr. Bharat Maski of Shree Balaji Gums and Spice Stuff Pvt. Ltd, Mumbai. Mr. Paul Heubener of Griffith Laboratory, USA presented a paper on Global Quality expectations which covered global trends, new dimensions of food safety. The need for supply chain management, legislative responses, consumer point of view and industrial point of view and proactive measures that the industry has to take were also covered in his presentation.
Mr. Roger T Lawrence, Corporate Vice-President of McCormick, USA in his presentation on quality and food safety in spices (technical evaluation) covered the various dynamics which continue to shape consumer industry and governmental attitudes. He discussed on the issues and touched on how the industry must take proactive responsibility to restore confidence in industry.
Mr. M S A Kumar, Managing Director, AVT McCormick Ingredients, Cochin in his paper on food safety in spices – Indian perspective remarked that the regulatory environment provided by the Spices Board and the new integrated food law of India enabled Indian spice industry to take new challenges head on. Mr. Roger Clarke, Quality Auditor, Cannamela, Italy, in his presentation on EU Perspective focused on the changing demands of EU Legislations. The cost of compliance and cost of non-compliance have become critical factors as we have learnt the hard way, in the light of Sudan factor, he said. With the “just in time” management being promoted by all Food retailers, it has become clear how quickly food ingredients move through the supply chain, he added. Ms. Cheryl Deem, Executive Director of American Spice Trade Association, in her paper American Perspective, focused on the role of ASTA in food safety.
The presentations were followed by discussions initiated by speakers in the panel. Speakers were Ms. Wendy Burggraf, President, Halford- Lewis, Quebec, Canada, Mr. Paul Asbreuk, Quality Manager, Unifine, The Netherlands, and Mr. Balu Maliakel of Akay Flavours and Aromatics, Cochin. Questions on genetically modified seeds in spices, legality in using brixin in spice products, historical perspective of banning Sudan dye, quality standards of EU were raised by the participants.
The second session chaired by Mr. Philip Kuruvilla of Madhu Jayanti International, Palakkad had papers presented on crops and markets. Mr. Vinayak Narain of Olam International, Singapore made his presentation on Black and White Pepper. He touched on key trends in pepper demands, demand supply balance for Pepper originating from Vietnam, India, Indonesia and Brazil. Mr. P. Jaykar of Paprika Oleo’s, China in his presentation on Chillies covered the global chilli scenario. Mr. K. S . Swani, Senior partner, Swani Corporation, Mumbai in his paper on seed spices and turmeric, covered the profile of these commodities highlighting the Indian capabilities. Mr. S. Sundaresan, IAS, Chairman, Forward Markets Commission, Mumbai in his presentation on Futures trading in spices covered the various dimensions of futures trading. He also explained how this helps spice sector in expanding both domestic and export market. He explained that the futures trading facilitates the price stability, liquidity and risk of management, benefiting all the stake holders, farmers, traders, exporters and importers.
In the panel discussions that followed Mr. Raf Nonneman, Director, European Spice Service, Belgium, Mr. Thomas Philip, Chairman, All India Spices Exporters Forum (Managing Director, Cochin Spices), Mr. Gerwald Kras, Manager, Spices, Amberwood Trading, The Netherlands, Mr. Mathew Meilander, Purchasing Manager, ACH Food Company, USA, Mr. Milan Shah, Vice-president, International General Produce, UK participated. In the discussions, questions were raised by participants which were answered by the Speakers.