The Indian food processing industry is on an assured track of growth and profitability, thanks to the rapid advances in developing food technologies that are essential for the conversion of farm produce into usable food items.


The CSIR mandate in Food Technology Sector is: Food preservation, food processing, food security, food safety and development of human resource, keeping in view the nutritional and health factors for targeted segments of population such as infants, aged population, women and defence force.


CSIR has developed, over the years, several novel food processing technologies, which have been widely commercialized. The contributions of CSIR institutions in this Sector mainly pertains to the following broad aspects:

·         Development of improved methods for preservation and storage

·         Development of new food products in various categories, such as traditional and health foods, specialty foods, ready-to-serve foods, nutraceuticals, beverages, etc.

·         Improved methods of food processing along with scale-up

·         Value addition of food products

·         Ensuring safe foods and food products

·         Byproducts/wastes utilization

·         Food processing machinery/equipment

·         Eco-friendly packaging

·         Development of environment-friendly processes with underpinning of food safety and quality

·         Biotechnological intervention in food processing for enhancing nutritional values

The basic R&D efforts are in the following areas: biochemistry, nutrition, fermentation technology, bio engineering, flour milling, baking, confectionery, food engineering, food microbiology, food packaging, food protectants, infestation control, food safety, analytical quality control, fruit and vegetable technology, grain processing, lipid science, traditional foods, meat and poultry products, fish processing, plant cell biotechnology, plantation products, spices, flavour technology, protein chemistry and technology and sensory science.

Laboratory-wise core competence is as follows:



Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI, Mysore)

It exclusively deals in foods and food processing, and is today a major international player in this sector. It has the mandate to develop post-harvest technologies for efficient protection, conservation and processing of agricultural produce with focus on developing export-oriented value-added products from horticultural and plantation crops. Besides, its mission is to design and fabricate prototype food processing machinery and to assist food industry through consultancy, contract research and other technical support services. CFTRI has qualified for International Standards Organization (ISO) Certification. It has also achieved the distinction of getting the NABL accreditation from the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories, DST, in the fields of chemical and biological testing. 


Regional Research Laboratory

(RRL, Thiruvananthapuram)

Optimum utilization of regional / national resources. In food technology sector, it has undertaken agro-processing of and value- addition to spices, coconut, oil palm, cassava, etc.


Regional Research Laboratory

 (RRL, Jorhat)

Development of technologies based on the immense natural wealth of the North-Eastern region. It has developed agro-technologies for citronella, lemongrass and edible mushrooms.


Regional Research Laboratory

(RRL, Jammu)

Developing post-harvest technologies that includes processing of regional produce, developed PCR-based methods for the detection of food-borne pathogens - a technology that would lead to the development of diagnostic kits.


Regional Research Laboratory

(RRL, Bhubaneshwar)

R&D efforts are geared towards development of an ultrasonically-aided anaerobic reactor for biomethanation of agricultural/vegetable wastes and designing a solar distillation system for solar drying of kendu leaves, timber, etc. Has developed expertise for kewada production.


Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute (CMERI, Durgapur)

Major R&D efforts have been focused on the development of appropriate machinery for productivity enhancement in the agricultural and the post-harvest processing sectors.

Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology (IHBT, Palampur)

Agro-technologies related to tea processing and organic farming.Nationally recognized for pesticide residue analysis in tea and herbals. Nutraceuticals and nutrigenomics.

Industrial Toxicology Research Centre (ITRC, Lucknow)

Identifying the action mode of hazardous toxicants/pollutants and developing diagnostic techniques for food safety evaluation. Quality assessment of drinking water.


National Botanical Research Institute (NBRI, Lucknow)

Developed nursery technology for clonal propagation of difficult-to-root plant species besides tissue culture protocols for trees and medicinal plants. It has expertise in preparation of herbal health protective nutraceutical formulations, fruit-based herbal health drink and development of neem- based pesticides besides organic cultivation of vegetables and other economically important plants.


Central Institute of Medical & Aromatic Plants (CIMAP, Lucknow)

Post harvest processing of plants and value addition to extracted products for active formulations is an important area of ongoing research on medicinal and aromatic plants.


National Institute of Oceanography

 (NIO, Goa)

It has the mission of collecting and identifying marine flora and fauna for biological screening and processing of marine-based foods.



Knowledge-based Products/Technologies Developed and Basic Findings

The strong traditional ethos associated with the R&D work has resulted in designing several food-based technologies, and machinery/equipment for the bulk production of traditional food items, besides developing many novel specialty foods. A host of new scientific findings related to food technology further add value to CSIR’s overall contributions to this Sector.   

Specialty Foods/Drinks

·         An indigenous infant food formula, developed in the1950s, based on buffalo milk was the first such product in the entire world. Ever since ‘Amul’ was formulated at CFTRI, research work has been focused on different aspects and special needs of babies.

·         Production of low lactose milk has become a reality by using permeabilized yeast cells or specific enzymes that hydrolyse lactose to glucose and galactose. Low lactose milk is suited for lactose intolerant infants who cannot consume milk that contains lactose.

·         Specialty foods such as enteral food, food for burn patients, food for diabetic patients and geriatric foods.

·         ‘Lactulose’ containing infant formula has been developed. It is specially suited for babies fed on artificial baby foods, as they lack adequate growth of beneficial microflora, which is found in babies fed on mother’s milk.

·         New specialty products based on wheat include improver mix for yeast leavened bakery products, flour fortification and nutrient fortified wheat products, high protein upma mix, fortified protein rich vermicelli, sugar-free biscuits and low-calorie biscuits. Suruchi Meetha is a nutritious ‘burfi’-like product having a high protein content that can be used in school children feeding programmes.  Other specialty products include onion biscuits and honey-based bakery products.

·         Energy foods such as Bal Ahar, weaning foods based on malted cereals/millets and germinated green grams have been developed, which have been used in nutrition intervention programmes in many States.

·         CIMAP’s ‘CIM tea’ is a value added beverage as it contains medicinally useful plant parts of Mentha piperita (sweet mint), Ocimum sanctum (tulsi) in combination with super sweet Stevia.

·         Supply of specially processed foods during Antarctica expeditions.

Food-based Technologies

Other significant technologies: These include the leaf cup and papad production                 technologies, making of plastic pouches used for packing of milk and edible oils and technology for the manufacture of plant growth hormones from agricultural wastes.     

Machinery for Bulk Production of Food Items


Products/Technologies Commercialized

·         Over 300 products/processes/designs of equipment have been developed. Nearly 1600 licensees have availed 160 technologies for commercial exploitation. Requests from countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America for know-how and human resource development have been met by CSIR.

Basic Findings
Milestones in Plant Biotechnology

 Some of the key achievements of CSIR in plant biotechnology related to Food Technology Sector include:

·         Isolation and characterization of seed proteins, increased activity of potential enzymes such as papain and polygalactorinase amylase

·         Bio-transformation of low value compounds to high value products especially flavours, microbial agents, immobilization of cells and enzymes

·         Production of enzymes through solid state fermentation

·         Submerged cultivation of microbial and plant cells for production of valuable products such as food colours, flavours, and chemicals like lactic acid and alcohol

·         Development of biosensors for speedy determination of products of fermentation, utilization of substrates such as glucose and estimation of pesticide residue

·         Development of ELISA for detection of aflatoxin, pesticide residue, improvement of microbial strains for the production of value-added compounds

·         Algal biotechnology for the value addition such as colours, flavours, polyunsaturated fatty acids, and antioxidants in the production of health food. Algal cultivation for human consumption and for animal feeds. Different drying method such as drum drying, cross-flow drying, spray drying have been adopted for rural applications.

·         Safety evaluation of biotechnology derived products through test organisms or using appropriate cell lines

·         Characterization of anti-fungal and anti-bacterial proteins and their hyper expression in select microorganisms

·         Microbial degradation of food industry waste for treatment of effluent and production of bioenergy

·         CFTRI has developed Eco-friendly biopesticides, which constitute a class of insecticides known as insect growth regulators.

Technologies Under Development

Nutraceuticals and Nutrigenomics: CSIR seeks to utilize its knowledgebase on bioinformatics, food science and herbals for breaking new grounds in the field of nutrigenomics. The idea is to develop commercially viable technologies for diverse nutraceuticals.

Health and Convenience Foods: New products based on cereals/legumes beneficial for health are being explored and their evaluation carried out.

The project contemplates the development of processes for:

·               Designer/functional foods with special properties such as cardio-protectiveness

·               Low calorie, diabetic-friendly food

·               New products from cereal sources

·               Ready-to-eat products from pulses

·               Ready to cook products based on meat and poultry

·               Safety protocols for traditional and convenience foods

·               Modified starches to improve the functional, textural and sensory properties of convenience foods and beverages

·               Fruit juices and other products from non-traditional fruits

Identifying New Biomolecules: Research is being undertaken for achieving the following:

·               Biotechnological applications of peptides for food and pharmaceutical industries

·               Production of microbial bioactive metabolites through fungal fermentation

·               Production of food colourants and their use in foods and beverages

·               Identification of new biomolecules from Nature for food-based applications

·               Screening of new bioactive compounds for example, biofumigants and biopesticides

Value Addition to Spices and Plantation Crops: As spices and plantation crops are export products, efforts are geared towards developing niche flavours and colourants that could find new market abroad. New and innovative biotechnological processes are being developed aimed at value-addition of plantation products.

Post-harvest Protocols for Horticultural Crops: There is growing demand for tropical fruits and vegetables in the export market. Besides establishing cold chain infrastructural facilities, development of technology protocols for these crops is essential to improve the shelf life. Packaging material for exports of fresh fruits and vegetables and salads in modified atmosphere packaging is being developed.

Fruit Ripening: Different fruits and vegetables have definite characteristics with respect to their storage temperature and humidity requirements. Besides, due to their differences in ethylene production, storage requires segregation. This aspect is being studied in depth. Processing of fruits such as mangoes is currently done by Benomyl or Pro-chloraz treatment. As most countries have now discontinued the use of these chemicals, alternative treatments are being identified.

Improvements in Onion Storage Systems: The storage of onions requires very specialized technology. Indigenous technologies based on providing proper aeration facility are being developed for long-term storage of onions.

R&D on Spices: Focused research in this area is poised to promote high value products, like exotic blends and spice mixes. Research efforts being aimed at processing of spices and manufacturing of value added products, having export potential. For modernizing the packaging system, new packaging and labeling rules are being looked into that encourage the usage of biodegradable and ecofriendly packs for preservation of the flavour profile.

Safer Pest Control Technologies: As all fumigants are toxic to human beings such as, carbon disulphide, HCN and ethyl formate, studies are required to develop new types of eco-friendly fumigants. Efforts are on to take up survey and surveillance programmes for various pests and diseases in horticulture crops in India.

Pesticide Residue Analysis Kits: There is a need to develop immunoassay kits for quick analysis of pesticide residue, as the current methods are time consuming and can be performed only in analytical laboratories.

Protocols for Processing and Storage of Livestock Products : Research in this area is being aimed at abattoir designs suitable to Indian conditions; protocols for hygienic processing of meat, fish, poultry and eggs; cold chain systems; packaging and preservation method; technologies for traditional kitchen-based products; and convenience products. These programmes would result in the effective utilization of livestock for production of good quality meat, fish and poultry products both for domestic and export markets.

Value Addition to Pulses: Processing techniques like chemical detoxification, fermentation, soaking, roasting, extruding and autoclaving are being standardized to make some pulses more palatable and less toxic.

Establishing Food Parks: The focus of these food parks would be to create incubator and manufacturing facilities using modern technologies with common infrastructure, such as pilot plant, water treatment, uninterrupted power supply and training centers.

Establishment of Centres of National Importance:

Secondary Metabolite from Plant Sources: Biotechnological production of secondary metabolite is being considered for enhancement of productivity in cell cultures and their extraction for commercial purpose.

Use of Rice Bran as Food Ingredient: Bran is obtained as an important by-product in rice milling industry during conversion of paddy to milled rice. As the majority of the nutrients are concentrated in the outer layers of the rice grain, bran contains significant quantities of bioactive compounds of high nutritional value. Rice bran dietary fibre has been shown to possess hypo-cholesteremic, hypo-glycemic and laxative properties. Possibilities of preparing protein concentrates and milk-like or beverage-like products, by suitable extraction methods, have been shown.

New Products Under Development

·         Natural food colourants

·         Pungent spice principles

·         Saffron analogue

·         Food flavours

·         Textured proteins

·         Microbial carotenoids

·         Total technology for many enzymes

Nourishing Ideas for the Future

CSIR technologies have been at the forefront for bringing sustainability of food security in our country. For augmenting growth in the Food Technology Sector, efforts would be continued to develop newer technologies aimed at improving food productivity, quality, safety and affordability to serve the Indian masses.

It is envisaged that a new Centre for Inspection, Certification and Clearance for Safety of Genetically Modified and Organic Foods would be started in CFTRI.  This centre would develop inspection and certification systems, review ongoing international guidelines including those of Codex Alimentarius, device principles of organic food production, finalize the list of permitted substances for the production of organic food, evolve minimum inspection requirements and precautionary measures under the inspection and certification system, formulate labelling forms, evaluate labelling claims and develop appropriate methods for processing of organic foods. In case of GM Foods, it would be the certification centre for the safety and nutritive quality attributes.

Some other interesting new possibilities include:

·         Engineered functionally-improved proteins

·         Natural colourants, flavours, additives and preservatives for quality products

·         Modified fats for superior food products

·         Engineered carbohydrates and enzymes

·         Ensuring food safety by monitoring contaminants (microbial and chemical) and remedial measures