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Focus on how accepting Indian market is to plant-based meat
Monday, 21 November, 2022, 16 : 00 PM [IST]
Our Bureau, Mumbai
The world sees India as a primarily vegetarian country, while actually, 72% of Indians are non-vegetarian, and meat consumption per capita is rising year-on-year. However, with health and sustainability coming to the forefront, the plant-based sector is rapidly picking up and earning popularity in India. Many Indian celebs, including actors and sportspersons, have vouched for the benefits of moving towards plant-based foods. According to a report, vegan lifestyles are rapidly increasing in popularity in India, with the plant-based sector poised to see “explosive growth". To highlight the same, GoodDot, the pioneers in the plant-based meat industry in India, hosted a panel discussion - The Good Talk - to discuss the ever-growing popularity of plant-based meat in India.

The virtual discussion explored the growth, opportunities, and challenges the industry faces in the Indian market. The Good Talk was an eye-opening and insightful conversation between industry leaders and experts, including Rishabh Mariwala, managing partner, Sharrp Ventures; Roshini Bakshi, MD, Private Equity, Everstone Capital; Robin Singh, co-founder, Peepal Farm; Dhiren Kanwar, food industry leader; Pratichee Kapoor, director, Kerry; and Abhishek Sinha, CEO & co-founder, GoodDot.

The discussion shed light on how accepting the Indian market is to the terminology ‘plant-based meat’. Singh from Peepal Farm, said, “It is very important for brands to realise their purpose and market it in that way. It is also essential for brands to mention ‘meat’ in their products so that consumers realise that it is an alternative to meat.” The way India eats has a global impact on food systems, the economy, and the environment. “The top-level advantages of plant-based meats are they require up to 50-99% lower water and emit 30-90% lesser CO2, compared to animal meat. Industry reports project the plant-based meat sector to grow from about US$200mn to 500mn in five years”, said Bakshi from Everstone Capital.

As an expert with a global food ingredient giant Kerry, Kapoor shared, “There have been large changes in the market, the quality and types of plant-based meat products in India, just in the past two years. There is the possibility and potential for co-locating plant-based meat manufacturing close to the agro-processing units and soy and lentil producing areas of the country, and India has a potential to leapfrog the West in its consumption of higher protein preferably through plant-based meats and proteins”.

Talking about the evolution of the plant-based ecosystem in India in the past 4-5 years, Mariwala from Sharrp Ventures, shared, “There is a greater investor and consumer interest in the space. Big names, celebrities, and sportsmen are also investing in or are associated with such companies. India has huge potential for building large-scale FMCG, plant-based food industries. The main challenge is category creation for significant purchases which will be helpful for the consumer. Also, brands need to focus on sampling and tasting activities across markets to create awareness,”

Being a land of spices and immense cultural variations in food habits, India is quite unique in the way it consumes its food. Commenting on the dietary landscape of India, Kanwar said, “The similar texture and feel of that of a plant-based meat product enable the consumption in India. The spices that we have in our food always give us an edge over the Western taste. It has also been proven that meat causes a lot of inflammation and other health-related problems, suggesting it might be better to choose plant-based meat products while working on clean-label products.”

“The Government of India has been highly supportive of the plant-based meat revolution and understands its importance. The transition will not take place overnight, there will need adequate safety nets. The industry will also help increase the important pillars of the country like exports, protein security, and sustainability. There should be price parity of plant-based meats with animal meats, in order to scratch beneath the surface and reach out to India’s price-sensitive market, beyond the early adopters.”, said Sinha from GoodDot. Plant-based meat is a relatively new and disruptive space that is in its early phase in India. In the past few years, a lot of interesting developments have taken place in this space in terms of technology, reach and awareness. With the likes of Tata, ITC, Starbucks, Domino’s and so on adopting plant-based meat, the industry is set to revolutionise the dietary habits of the Indian market.
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