At a recent event at Charoen Phokphand (CP) Foods, I had the opportunity to meet Chinmay Kulkarni who heads the R& D division of the company in India. Charoen Phokphand (CP) Foods Public Company Limited and its subsidiaries, CP Group, is a leading agro-industrial and food conglomerate based in Thailand. The company is a well known name in the packaged food segment and exports to over 40 countries across five continents. Committed to manufacturing high quality, nutritious, tasty and safe products, CP foods has an objective to improve the quality life of consumers around the globe.
Here are some excerpts from the conversation:
How long have you been associated with the R&D Division of CP foods?
As head of R&D it seems you are responsible for developing new products. How often do you add new products to your existing array of offerings?
Normally we launch one or two products every quarter. It is also done as per the need of the category.
Is there any one main criteria like an ingredient or a particular flavor that decides the introduction of a new product?
Yes absolutely, in case of flavors there are three types of them in any product. One is the base flavor which gives the overall taste (or ‘mouth feel’) to the product. Second is with main ingredient , for example we have developed the product “Mexican sausages” for which Jalapeno is the flavor driver. Lastly the top note which basically is required in a very small amount, however, this gives the overall direction to the product.
What are the main differences/challenges working on frozen/packaged food vis-a-vis food that is just served from ‘pan to plate’?
Well there are lots of challenges while developing products for the frozen category. We generally offer a shelf life of six months to any product, so we have to ensure that the product retains its taste, flavors and remains fresh till the end of its shelf life. Secondly it is very important to set the parameters as per the food safety regulations and adhere to the same.
With so much emphasis on healthy and fresh food, what special measures are being taken to ensure that CP frozen food rate high when it comes to the health and nutrition aspect?
We start looking at this aspect right from selecting the raw material. For example, in case of chicken we have end to end integration which helps us to keep a track and control of it from the egg to chicken stage. That’s the reason we are very sure about the quality, nutritional and health aspects of our products.
With the food blogging scene having taken off so well, everyone seems to have an opinion on food. How important is the opinion of food bloggers according to you?
It is very important as I think food bloggers are the people who are educating a large part of the market. They play an important role in creating the awareness about new products and good food. Their feed back is valuable for companies like ours who are involved in creating new products with authentic tastes and flavors.
What do you think about the current food scene in India and any particular food trends to watch out for in the future?
Currently, everybody is into creating fusion food like the so called “Indian Chinese” which means adapting international cuisines by adding local flavors. However, I feel that we should retain the originality of native foods. For e.g. I would not recommend altering authentic Hyderabadi Biryani by using European spices and seasonings. So, in my opinion we should always keep the authenticity of any product that we launch.
To know more about CP foods and their products, read my post here.