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Current status, constraints and strategy for promoting processed poultry meat products

Central Avian Research Institute, Izatnagar (U.P.)-243122
Email: [email protected]



Despite spectacular increase in broiler production to the tune of about 1.2 billion in 2003, both primary poultry processing and further processed, value-added product (VAP) sectors in India are in a nascent stage. Even today the bulk (80%) of chickens are sold alive or as deskinned carcasses in wet market and the rest are sold as dressed whole carcass, cut-ups or further processed value-added products. Establishment of about a dozen modern, mechanized poultry processing plants (2000-6000 chicken/hr), expansion in domestic food processing, establishment of vertically integrated poultry companies with their own retail outlets/ restraunts, proliferating fast food outlets and entry of a few multinational fast-food chains have given some impetus to the growth of this sector over the last decade. The country has, thus, begun producing frozen broiler and some value- added products mainly for domestic urban and export markets in recent years. Most of the indigenous R&D efforts made for developing over two dozens traditional and newer value-added products are yet to acquire commercial proposition in a significant way. All out efforts are, thus, needed to evolve cost-effective and efficient technology for the production of shelf-stable, consumer-oriented convenience products to penetrate the vast hitherto untapped rural market.

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This apart, removal of quantitative restrictions on poultry products and changing domestic and export trade scenario under WTO regime call for more emphasis on sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) issues, upgradation of our poultry product standards and strict enforcement of quality assurance programme to boost export trade and prevent dumping of substandard poultry products in Indian market. The focus should shift from primary processing to further- processing. Launching of vigorous campaign through mass media including EDUSAT about nutritional and health promoting benefits of chicken meat and production of convenience products tailored to consumers demand at affordable price are need of the hour. In addition, adoption of GMP or more preferably HACCP system, improved packaging, efficient cold-chain and distribution network and closer and dynamic linkage between R&D institutions and processing sector are suggested for creating efficient production-processing interface to accelerate the pace of growth of Indian poultry industry. Sustained growth in broiler production would be greatly driven by the augmentation of production and marketing of processed poultry products, especially in rural areas and export.

With an output of 1.4 million tons chicken meat in 2003, constituting around 3.5% of the global output, India has emerged as the 5 th largest world poultry meat producer after the U.S.A, China, Brazil and Mexico and has potential to overtake Mexico in near future. The broiler production has been growing at an incredible rate of 10-15 % per annum over the last decade. As a result, the share of poultry meat has steadily increased to about 25% of the total meat production in our country with the resultant increase in per capita availability of about 1.3 kg poultry meat/ head/year. This is , however, much lower than the average global consumption of about 11 kg and Asia’s 6 kg poultry meat. Despite revolution in broiler production, the poultry processing including value-added product sector has not kept pace with the remarkable progress made on the production front and is still in its infancy. This is mainly due to inadequate processing and cold-chain facilities, lack of stringent quality control, organized marketing and distribution network for poultry products in the country.

Liberalization of economic policies, globalization of trade, increasing urbanization, industrialization, rapid growth in information technology, rising income, changing food habits with preference for convenience products, rise in working women force and rapid proliferation of fast-food outlets offer a tremendous potential for rapid growth of this sector. In addition, the expansion of domestic and entry of some multinational fast food companies in the Indian market, which are sourcing their chicken supplies within the country for a variety of products, as well as spurt in economic/industrial activity have created a favorable atmosphere for value-added poultry products. However, the products have to be tailored to individual market requirements and responsive to the consumer’s demand. Furthermore, the added value to a particular product in terms of convenience, improvement in nutritional and sensory quality, improved packaging and presentation or shelf-life extension, etc. should not exceed the cost of adding the value for sustained marketability of the products. In this context, the current state of developments in value-added poultry products segment, major constraints facing the poultry processing sector and some suggestions for future research and development in this direction are, briefly, highlighted below.

Current status: - At present, the bulk (80-85%) of broilers are either sold alive or as deskinned carcasses in retail markets, 10 to 15% are dressed in numerous small poultry processing units in an unscientific manner to be sold as freshly dressed whole chicken, cut-up parts and only about 5% of them are processed scientifically in about a dozen modern, mechanized processing plants (2000-6000 chickens/hr) established in our country over the last one and a half decades. Some new poultry processing plants are in the pipeline, which together with the increased capacity utilization of the existing plants would increase the proportion of chicken processed in automated/semi-automated plants to over 10% in coming years.

Of the dressed chickens, approximately 75% are sold as hot dressed, chilled or frozen whole carcass while the raw or marinated cut-up portions, deboned meat, fillets and further-processed, value-added products (VAP) such as tandoori chicken, sausages, patties/burger, nuggets, fillets, chicken samosa and kababs, etc. constitute the remaining 25% of product segment. Moreover, all these product mix cater mainly to urban population, constituting about 30% of total population, leaving a vast (70%) rural population untapped for whom desi chicken, spent hens, ducks and to a limited extent broilers are the source of poultry meat. Opening of retail outlets and fast food restaurants by some vertically integrated broiler producers in metros / big cities is a welcome development for promoting processed products and avoid dependence on middlemen. In contrast, only about 10-20% of broilers are being sold as whole carcass and the remaining as portions, deboned meat and further- processed products in the USA and some other economically developed countries.

The current international trade in poultry products is around 8% of the global output of about 65 million tons chicken meat. Although, India has emerged as a leading exporter of both frozen and dried egg products in recent years but her share in export of frozen broiler and further- processed poultry meat products is still negligible.

The poultry-processing sector in India has to go a long way to catch-up with some developing countries such as Brazil and Thailand which have modernized and expanded their processing sector to emerge as major exporters of processed poultry products to developed and high economy developing countries. However, the upcoming horizontal and vertical integrations in poultry production and processing, expected large investment in processing technologies and equipments, creation of cold-chain and launching of sales promotion by some domestic and multinational food chains would promote the growth of this vital sector of poultry industry and thereby offer convenience, quality and sufficient value for money for VAP to domestic consumers and also expand the export potential of Indian poultry products. Furthermore, trade restriction imposed on chicken products from countries affected by avian influenza epidemics and quality approval of Indian chicken products processed at modern processing plants by the European union team recently would boost the export prospects.

Major constraints:- Prior to the liberalization of economic policy in 1991, India’s priority was more on commercial poultry production than on processing. Thereafter, food processing in general and poultry processing in particular started gaining momentum. However, lack of strong domestic market base, conventional dietary habits of consumers, inadequate advertising and campaign to highlight the virtues of processed poultry meat products, consumer’s lack of faith in the quality of such products in the absence of stringent quality assurance programmes for domestic market, non-awareness about availability and usually high price of processed products and inadequate infrastructures like processing equipments, cold-chain including refrigerated transport and marketing network are the major bottlenecks confronting the growth of poultry processing and product development sectors. High import duty, strict sanitary and phyto-sanitary (SPS) issues and huge subsidy available to competitors in economically developed countries are the other reasons for the slow growth of Indian export of poultry products.

The subsidy issue was raised by developing country led by India at WTO meet-2003 in Cancun. Besides, little or no serious effort has been made to design and develop egg and poultry processing and further-processing equipments indigenously to suit the requirements of small, medium and large primary and further-processing units. The high-tech processing systems may not necessarily be relevant to the requirements of Indian conditions. Lack of a closer and dynamic linkage between R&D institutions and poultry processing industry is another impediment in this regard. In the prevailing market-driven competitive environment under WTO regime, it is pertinent to identify and address the constraints to facilitate development of processed poultry product sector.

Indigenous Value-added Poultry Products: - Since early 1960’s considerable work has been done at various R&D institutions in the country for developing further-processed, value-added poultry meat products to cater to the growing demand of consumers. Several processes such as carcass portioning, hot and cold deboning, thermal hydrolysis, grinding, massaging, tumbling for increasing myofibrillar proteins solubility and meat particle binding, flaking and dicing for restructured meat products, chopping and emulsification for comminuted products, canning, curing and smoking, marination, battering and breading for enrobed poultry products and more recently retort and hurdle technology have been successfully used to develop a variety of semi-convenience to convenience value-added poultry meat products. These include chicken essence, chicken meat soup powder, tandoori, barbecue, chicken canned in brine, canned or retort-processed chicken biryani and curried chicken, chicken skin snacks, chicken meat/gizzard pickles, cooked chicken stock, enrobed drumsticks, thighs and wings, marinated chicken breast fillets, chicken meat spread, shelf –stable spiced chicken bits, wafers, freeze-dried chicken pulav, intermediate moisture chicken meat and restructured/comminuted products like chicken sausages, patties, nuggets, rolls, loaves, balls, tikkas, keema, steaks and croquettes, etc. Besides, quail tandoori, battered fried quail, quail pickles and sausages, sticks, roasted marinated breast chops and pickles from turkey and ducks are other novelties to the range of products developed in the country.

Research efforts have also enabled utilization of less preferred spent/culled breeder meats and carcass components viz. skin, gizzard, heart, ova yolk and adipose tissue as raw materials for production of premier value-added comminuted meat products. In addition, incorporation of non-meat binders and extenders such as textured soy, soy protein concentrate, refined wheat, gram and baked lentil flours, corn starch, tapioca starch, wheat semolina, milk solids, milk co -precipitates, mashed potato, green peas, wheat and maize germs, whole egg liquid and egg albumen, etc. in comminuted poultry meat products has resulted in improvement of their nutritional and organoleptic quality as well as reduction in production cost. The lean meat levels may be varied from 50% to 60 or 70% with remaining edible offals and non-meat extenders and seasonings, etc. to produce economy, choice and prime grade emulsion-type poultry products to suit the pocket of different income-group consumers.

Combination of chicken meat and mutton for the preparation of comminuted meat products could be useful in producing better quality products and in overcoming shortage of one type of meat by the other. However, more work is needed to evaluate physico-chemical and functional (WHC, EC, ES, gelation, etc.) properties of mechanically deboned poultry meat (MDPM) including application of centrifugation/surimi processing technology for MDPM and skin to remove undesirable haeme pigment and lipids so as to concentrate myofibrillar proteins for improving texture and emulsion stability of comminuted products. Among these products, canned or retort-packed chicken curry and chicken briyani in flexible unit packs, freeze-dried chicken pulav, meat soup powder, intermediate moisture chicken meat cooked chicken stock, chicken meat / gizzard pickles and fermented sausages are shelf- stable products with ambient shelf -life of 2 weeks to 6 months have specifically been developed for marketing in rural areas and supply to remote defense units.

Despite revolution in food packaging, leading to availability of several rigid, semi-rigid, and flexible monolayer, co-extruded and laminated retortable and non-retortable packaging materials of high barrier and mechanical strength and innovative packaging systems (MAP, CAP, aseptic, retort packaging etc.), efficient packaging for many of the value-added products developed indigenously has not received much attention. Scaling-up of the processes/products developed and their familiarization to processing industry and consumers are the need of hour for commercial exploitation and popularization among the masses.

 Future prospects:- Diversity in tradition and culture of India has resulted in different culinary practices for the preparation of a variety of traditional poultry products, some of which (tandoori, curried chicken and kababs) have become popular abroad. However, non-availability of standard processing methods to develop products of uniform quality has met with limited success to commercialize traditional products. Hardly about a dozen chicken preparations are available to Indian consumers in sharp contrast to more than a hundred varieties of value-added poultry products being marketed in some developed countries. Hence, concerted efforts should be made to develop process for some newer products to suit the palate and pocket of the consumers. Similarly, development of more and more comminuted, restructured, enrobed and marinated flavored poultry meat products as ready-meals, snacks, carry-home meals and full or supplementary military pack rations in accordance with the requirements of end-users would enhance the consumption of such products. In this respect, emphasis should be laid on developing shelf-stable products based on Indian cuisine for which there is an enormous potential in both domestic and export markets.

Some new processing techniques like hotshot cooking, irradiation, high pressure cooking, hydrodynamic pressure cooking, pulsed electric/ magnetic field and ultrasonic wave based equipments could be used for packed ready- to-eat products to control thermo-stable pathogens. Similarly ozone, which has been approved by FDA for food contact in 2001, could be used to disinfect air, water, processing equipments and decontamination of carcasses/ meat surface in lieu of conventional chlorinated water.

India has a booming food market and expanding economy. The CII-McKinsey survey has identified poultry product as having third highest growth potential after wheat-and milk-based products. However, future growth of poultry industry would be greatly driven by promoting processing sector, especially processed product sector and expanding domestic market base, particularly in hitherto untapped rural areas, apart from promoting export trade. Problems related to pathogenic microflora and/or their toxins, as well as residues of harmful substances like hormones, heavy metals, packaging migrants, veterinary drugs and pesticides could be tackled by adopting GMP or more preferably HACCP system right from the production to primary and further-processing stages. The exportable poultry products must meet the quality requirements prescribed by the ISO, EC or USDA, which are internationally recognized and accepted on a large scale.

The prevailing image of value-added poultry products as domestic upmarket or foreign market products needs to be changed. This calls for production and marketing of products as per the needs, expectations and acceptance of as large population as possible at affordable price. Apart from developing sophisticated technologies for specialty products for niche market, concerted efforts should also be made to develop cost-effective, intermediate technology for promoting poultry processing as a cottage industry in rural areas, where huge market potential exists, as a vehicle of rural employment and income generation. To achieve this, there is need for promoting rural poultry production and processing by provision of adequate credit support and other technical inputs viz., training, orientation for development of processing skills and entrepreneurship and location –specific technology. A link with fast food vendors, restaurants, hotels and retail outlets in nearby town or city could be a profitable proposition in promoting rural poultry products manufacturing units, which in turn will give a fillip to poultry production activities in rural areas.

In the changing domestic and export market scenario, a two-pronged strategy needs to undertaken. For export, applications of modern processing techniques and management approaches to produce products of international standards are vital factors, whereas adequate hygienic measures at all stages of processing and product development, clean transportation and chiller/freezer cabinets for display/storage are needed in view of the preference for freshly dressed/ chilled chicken and further-processed products in the domestic markets. Apart from production of small broilers for whole carcass market, thrust should be laid on producing large broilers for value -added product segment. Keeping in view the growing quality consciousness among consumers, efforts should also be made to produce poultry meat-based functional foods low in fat, cholesterol, calories and enriched with omega fatty acids and vitamin E, etc. In addition, there is a need for designing and fabrication of poultry processing, meat processing equipments/machineries indigenously, development of shelf-stable products for storage and marketing under ambient condition, improved packaging including greater usage of eco-friendly, biodegradable packaging materials, enforcement of strict quality assurance programmes for processed products as per MFPO for domestic markets and ISO for exportable products, appropriate mechanism for assessment of the hygienic status of poultry and meat processing units, energy conservation, market research/survey particularly for value-added products and vigorous campaign for popularization of convenience poultry products through mass media including EDUSAT launched recently.

Besides, government’s support in terms of basic infrastructures like adequate warehouse/cargo space, efficient cold-chain system, exemption from excise duty on branded poultry products, simplified export policies and efficient marketing network are essential for promoting domestic and export market prospects of poultry products. It is, therefore, imperative for the Ministry of Food Processing Industries, APEDA, poultry producers-cum-processors, food processors, food scientists and technologists, extension specialists and other stakeholders to identify and address the constraints and evolve and appropriate mechanism for the transformation of the nascent poultry processing and product development sector into a dynamic, vibrant and versatile enterprise as an integrated approach to create an efficient poultry production-cum-processing interface for accelerating the pace of growth of Indian poultry industry.

Source : IPSACON-2005