Tata Consumer Products (TCPL) has pioneered food processing by commercializing Microwave Assisted Thermal Processing (MATS) technology in India. TCPL is today the first company to commercialize and introduce MATS technology in India under its subsidiary TATA Smart Foodz, setting a new standard for the Ready-To-Eat (RTE) category. MATS technology was initially created by Prof. Juming Tang at Washington State University, USA, and is a patented and FDA-approved technology.
Microwave Thermal Processing (MATS) is a new age and novel food processing technology offering high-quality ambient shelf-stable food products compared to conventional thermal processing technologies. Currently, the Retort technology is widely implemented in the food industry. However, MATS addresses Retort's limitations to delivering a far superior product experience on critical parameters such as the food's color, texture, and taste. MATS technology, being very effective in sterilization technology, can help formulators develop formulations with lower salt content than conventional processed foods. Traditional thermal processing through Retort technology often results in significant quality loss due to prolonged exposure to high temperatures. On the contrary, MATS minimizes exposure time to high heat temperatures.
The COVID-19 pandemic reshaped consumer preferences, leading to a surge in demand for RTE food products, with consumers seeking wholesome, tasty meal options that are also convenient. Speaking on the commercialization of MATS technology in India, Vikas Gupta, global head R&D at Tata Consumer Products, said, "Tata Consumer Products is raising the bar in India’s food processing sector by being the first to introduce the commercialization and implementation of MATS technology. We see this as an opportunity to revolutionize the industry and set a new standard for food processing. This technology not only opens up new business prospects and opportunities for innovation but also encourages smaller businesses (MSMEs) to explore and adopt this transformative technology, addressing the growing demand for high-quality, shelf-stable food products.“
The commercial MATS facility at TATA Smart Foodz boasts a cutting-edge processing facility capable of manufacturing a diverse array of delicious RTE ambient shelf-stable food products. The machines have advanced control systems and data acquisition capabilities, enabling real-time monitoring and recording of operational parameters.
Tata Consumer Products's pioneering move to embrace MATS technology marks a significant milestone in the food packaging industry. This innovation promises to enhance food quality, reduce food waste, and open new business avenues for the RTE industry. With the application of commercial MATS technology at TATA Smart Foodz Limited, a range of food products were commercialized and launched for the first time in the Indian Market. The product range includes first-of-its-kind Ready-To-Eat pasta & noodles, delivering a rich product experience in every bite. Tata Consumer also pioneered a differentiated offering in ambient, shelf-stable alternate meat products under the Tata Simply Better brand.