Overview of the Grain Processing Industry
Grain processing is the treatment of grains (edible seeds/parts of cereals) to prepare their starch for human food, industrial use, or animal feed. As grains area members of the grass family, many edible species have been cultivated and researched exhaustively as it is a staple food source primarily because of starchy seeds. Wheat, rice, corn (maise), rye, oats, barley, sorghum and some millets are common cereals in India. Each of these cereals requires specific post-harvest treatment to make it more as per consumer's liking, give it a better shelf life or tweak its physical properties to cater to the market's demand. This post-harvest treatment is carried out in the grain processing industry.
Certain basic food processing principles apply to most of the techniques used in processing grains. Cereals undergo different types of processing between the harvest stage and consumption stage. This chain in the processing is referred to as the post-harvest system. Today, the grain processing industry is diverse, with various processed food items. Practically, every food item produced contains grains in some form. Different kinds of grains can be used in the industry to create various products. The demand for non-food items made from byproducts of grains, like agricultural waste, is increasing daily, which presents enormous business opportunities to entrepreneurs. The options in the grain processing business can be better understood when we look into the stages of value addition in this industry.
Stages followed in the Grain Processing Industry
In the grain processing industry, grains are categorised as bulk grains that are processed in larger quantities like wheat, corn, soybeans and speciality grains that are often more delicate. These include oats, rye, quinoa, barley, millet, rice, and amaranth. Many speciality grains require unique handling systems during the processing and conveying stages. The post-harvest steps can be divided into three main stages.
Preparation Stage(for storage): The first is the preparation of harvested grain for storage. Harvested grains are left in the field to dry before further processing. Other preparation methods can also be implemented depending on the changes the processor desires. These methods include physical processes like threshing (removal of grains from the rest of the plant), winnowing (separation of the grains from the chaff or straw), etc.
Primary Processing Stage: The second stage, referred to as primary processing, involves further treatment of the grain to remove the husk, clean it or reduce its size. The products from this stage in the grain processing industry may still not be consumable. Primary processing of cereals includes cleaning, grading, pounding, grinding, hulling, milling, tempering, parboiling, soaking, drying, sieving etc.
Secondary Processing Stage: The third stage, i.e., secondary processing, transforms the grains into edible products. Primary processing involves several processes designed to clean, sort and remove the inedible fractions from the grains. Secondary processing of cereals is the utilisation of the primary products like whole grains, flakes or flour etc., to make more palatable products and add variety to the diet. Secondary processing in the grain processing industry of cereals includes fermentation, baking, puffing, flaking, frying and extrusion. This is an essential value addition for grains and is categorised into the following types.
- Puffing: Puffed grains are commonly used as breakfast cereals or snack food. During this stage, the grains are exposed to very high steam and pressure that causes grains to burst open. The puffed grain can then be sent to the market or further processing by coating, mixing and toasting with other ingredients.
- Flaking: Flaked cereals are partially cooked and used as quick-cooking or ready-to-eat food items. These grains are softened by cooking in steam partially. They are then rolled or pressed into flakes and then dried. These grains are obtained from the grain processing industry.
- Fermentation: Doughs made from some cereal flours can be fermented to produce a range of food items.
- Baking: Doughs made from cereal flours are baked to produce various food items.
- Extrusion: Extrusion involves heating the dough and forcing it through a small hole to make strands or other shapes. The extruded shapes undergo further processing such as frying, boiling or drying. Extruded products include snack foods like pasta, noodles, breakfast cereals etc.
Small businesses and projects can include only one or several of the activities in the total chain, from growing crops to producing edible products. Small businesses are established to clean and pack whole grains. These business models are popular in small-scale industries as there is very little need for equipment, and requires basic skills. However, starting any business, like establishing the grain processing industry, requires some necessary licencing and permits from government agencies and adhering to some post-compliance. These legalities have been discussed in brief in the following sections.
Licences and authorisation needed to set up a grain processing industry
Business Registration: Registering any food processing business gives it a legal identity. Registering with the authorities has certain benefits associated with it.
Consent NOC: To set up a grain processing industry, one must obtain a Pollution Under Control (PUC) certificate, also known as Consent Certificate or No Objection Certificate (NOC). As grain processing falls into“steeping and processing of grains”, the units have to approach the concerned SPCB/PCC for NOC under the green category. They must comply with the Environment (Protection) Act, Water Act and Air Act. The documents required for this NOC are -
Documents required for CTE
- Duly filled out an application on the state's Online Consent Management & Monitoring System(OCMMS).
- Signed undertaking
- Site or layout plan with a road map
- Detailed project report
- Details of point sources of effluent or air emission discharge along with solid waste/hazardous waste (if generated)
- Details of finished products
- The capital cost of the unit, along with a list of machinery (land, building, and plant machinery)
- Source of water, water balance of the region and its required quantity
- Land documents such as rent/lease agreement
- Industry registration documents
- Consent fee (as applicable)
Documents required for CTO
- Duly filled application
- Certified balanced sheet by a CA
- Copy of CTE issued
- Proof and details of water pollution control/air pollution control devices and solid waste/hazardous waste management facilities provided (their location on the premises, capacity and exit points of the discharge)
- Lab report of the trade emissions and effluents
- Site plan
- Copy of any permission, such as environmental clearance, needed from the state government
- Any other document mentioned in the CTO application form
FSSAI Licence: As the grain processing industry will fall under the food processing sector, the unit will need to get the required food business and trade licenses from the FSSAI. The FSSAI basic registration is essential for small and medium-scale businesses generating turnover of less than Rs.12 lakhs/annum.
Documentations required for issuance of FSSAI Basic Registration are
- Photo ID
- List of proposed food articles
- A duly filled Form-B by the applicant
- Partnership deed/Certificate of Incorporation (COI)/Memorandum of Association(MOA)/Articles of Association (AOA)
- Lease or rental agreement to prove land ownership
- Food safety management system (FSMS) plan
- Supporting dossiers (if any, such as NOC of Panchayat/Municipality, health NOC)
- List of raw materials suppliers
- Form IX
- Water test report through a certified NABL lab
- Import-export code (aka IEC) granted by DGFT
- List of machines and equipment
- List of directors and partners list
Factories Licence: Once the factory plan is approved, the applicant can establish the unit and request a factory license. This is to be done before starting the grain processing industry. The documents needed in this regard are -
- Application form with the paid challans (if applicable)
- Occupancy certificate
- Certificate regarding the stability of the structure from a qualified structural engineer
- List of safety equipment/preventive measures taken on site(on company's letterhead and signed)
- The machinery layout drawing architect approved
- A copy of the approved plan
- Provisions of health, safety and welfare under the Factory Act of 1948
- A copy of on-site/of site plans if applicable/signed statement on the company's letterhead that it is not applicable
- Approval of the plans from appropriate authorities
- Self-certification by the management whether the premises is owned/leased
- Project report (including flow chart) (Signed)
- Copy of land document (Form I & XIV)
- A copy of SSI registration/Industrial Licence/in-principle clearance in case of MSI/LSL
- Details of ETP, if any
Additional Licences and Permits required for Grain Processing Industry
- Trade License
- Udyog Aadhaar registration (if applicable)
- IEC if one wishes to export the finished product
- GST registration
- AGMARK (if required)
- BIS certification
Application and scope of Grain Processing Industry
New and improved food processing techniques have been introduced to improve microbial resistivity, enhance nutritional quality, improve or modify physio-chemical properties, increase production and make the process efficient. Among various emerging technologies, microwave, irradiation, radio frequency and high-pressure processing have found potential applications for storing and processing pulses and some grains. The introduction of innovative technologies has improved grain processing and utilisation of pulses. This has ultimately resulted in the growth of the grain processing industry.
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