Nichrome, a key player in the form, fill and seal packaging equipment segment with a manufacturing capacity of 500 machines a year has entered the ready-to-eat (RTE) food segment with its new pick, fill and seal (PFS) line.
After successfully commissioning its PFS8 machine at The Punjab State Cooperative Supply and Marketing Federation (Markfed) for packing RTE products such as palak paneer, paneer masala and dal makhani, it has received additional orders for the machine from ITC and Gits. While the PFS machine to be delivered shortly to ITC will be used for packaging ghee, the machine supplied to Gits will be used to pack RTE foods.
Hemant Ogale, managing director of Nichrome, says, “The growing retail market, the busy lifestyle of consumers and comparatively cheaper prices have helped RTE products to emerge as an easy substitute for conventional cooking. The growth rate and revenue are expected to be high over the next five years. We at Nichrome are confident that our new offering will play a major part in packaging with great convenience without compromising productivity and quality. The PFS unit will help the industry to pack various solids, grains, dry fruit and liquid products in pre-formed flexible pouches.”
The PFS8 enables several different fillers to dispense multiple types of ingredients in the same pouch. Pouch loading through a horizontal conveyor allows more pouch storage at a time. It is a cost-effective solution with multiple filler options like the visco filler, servo-driven auger filler, the volumetric cup filler, indexing type bucket conveyors and multi-head weighers. The innovative machines conveniently pack a variety of RTE foods in eye-catching innovative shapes while maintaining their freshness. Using preformed bags or pouches since it has no bag forming operation, the machine picks the readymade pouches that are stacked and then opens, fills and seals them. It can put spouts, straws or zippers on the pouch and can also handle pre-zipped bags.
The specially designed RTE filler can dose heterogeneous Indian curry-based products gently without damaging the cooked food ingredients. RTE food pouches packed on the Nichrome PFS can be later subjected to retort processing for long shelf-life. With its compact and small machine footprint, Nichrome intends to tap the growing RTE food market currently dominated by multinational manufacturers and estimated at `1,500 crore. This is expected to almost double to `2,900 crore at the end of the current financial year.
Save food through packaging
Going beyond process control, a Nichrome machine ensures that quality standards are scrupulously adhered to while filling food in pouches. It also focuses on the pouch being micro leak proof, helping to retain the natural aroma of the food along with adding to its shelf-life. Nichrome’s packaging machines meet stringent global hygiene requirements and benchmarked packaging practices. The use of contemporary technology aimed at the latest packaging processes produce distinctly superior products which rank high on quality and can be exported globally.
Nichrome executive director, Mrunal Joshi, says, “According to reports the Indian packaging industry is growing at more than 11% annually and is expected to cross a turnover of US$ 21.59 billion by 2015. Packaging is an essential medium for preserving food quality, minimizing food wastage and reducing preservatives used in food. Packaging serves the important function of preserving food, protecting against chemical and physical damage while providing information which is essential to consumers and marketers.”
Joshi confirms that the food processing and packaging industry has been given high priority in the current budget. “The Government has announced that for funding, the food processing industry would be considered as a priority sector, and the cost of the funds would be at a reduced rate. However, no announcement has been made on the amount of reduction and the effective date from which it will be applicable.”
The existing excise duty on packaging machinery and components is 12.5% whereas the import duty is 27%. “The Government announced excise duty at a reduced rate of 6%
vide notification 12/2014, under rule 8422/4000 for machines and components used for packaging or manufacturing activities for agriculture and dairy purpose. However, the notification does not specify what activities are covered under agriculture and dairy and
infact we have sent a representation and also written a note to the chief commissioner, asking for clarification. The reply is awaited,” says Joshi.