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‘Customers don’t prefer them’: millets get the cold shoulder at G-20 food fest

‘Customers don’t prefer them’: millets get the cold shoulder at G-20 food fest

‘International Year of Millets’ and ‘Taste the World’ are the main themes of the two-day G-20 International Food Festival

Poor demand for millet-based products and low public awareness of their benefits have resulted in only 13 out of the 40 food stalls at the ongoing G-20 International Food Festival at Talkatora Stadium offering items that use the grain as an ingredient.

‘International Year of Millets’ and ‘Taste the World’ are the main themes of the two-day fest, which was inaugurated by Union Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri on Saturday.

Four G-20 countries — China, Turkey, Japan and Mexico — and 14 Indian States and Union Territories — Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Delhi, Bihar, Punjab, Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Manipur and Meghalaya — are participating in the festival, which is being organised by the New Delhi Municipal Council.

“The event is not only a G-20 food festival but also a food festival of Indian States,” Mr. Puri said. He also laid emphasis on promoting millet-based products at government events, canteens and kitchens. “I hope millets become a public movement,” he said, adding that it is a healthy option that can form a part of one’s daily diet.

With the United Nations declaring 2023 as the International Year of Millets, the Centre has taken a keen interest in positioning itself as the global hub for millets. However, food stall owners at the G-20 festival say there is inadequate demand for millet-based products.

“We won’t be serving millet-based items as customers don’t prefer them,” said Madhusudan Siddanthi, marketing head of the Karnataka Food Centre. “Only people who already have a taste for such items order them,” said Mr. Siddanthi, who hails from Ballari and grew up eating millet-based rotis.

To encourage the growth and consumption of millets, the government needs to do more than just promoting millets at events being organised by it, he said.

The consumer base of millet-based products has grown over the past two years, but its reach is limited to health-conscious people, according to Palak Arora, a Faridabad-based food technologist-turned-entrepreneur who runs Satguru Superfoods.

“Most people are unaware of the form in which millets need to be consumed. People often push it aside as they find it difficult to digest,” Ms. Arora said. “People need to be made aware that by simply soaking millets in water, we can get rid of the anti-nutrients that make them difficult to digest.”

©The Hindu

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