Environmental sustainability is a big concern as natural resources are rapidly depleting and weather conditions are strikingly changing. World Health Organization has already warned that the world may be soon moving to post-antibiotic era due to antimicrobial resistance and 75 percent of infections are likely to be foodborne in the future. This concern pushed food experts to come up with smart solutions and this is how the idea of converting plant-based proteins into faux meat was born. While we have been seeing this trend taking shape in abroad, the concept is fast being materialised in India too.
The Good Food Institute India (GFI India), the central expert organisation and convening body in the 'smart protein' sector recently held their annual flagship event 'The Smart Protein Summit' in collaboration with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) and with support from the Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI), The Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), and India's Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) Eat Right India initiative.
Varun Desphande, President, GFI Asia revealed plans for GFI India's Centre for Nutritional Excellence with FICCI saying, "The challenges we face before us, in terms of food safety and security are growing. We think that smart protein - meat, eggs, and dairy made from plants, cells, and microorganisms - is one of our best bets for a more sustainable, secure, and just food supply."
Siraj Hussain, FICCI Advisor and former Secretary, Agriculture, Government of India shared that, "Smart protein may be a new concept, but it is a sector with immense global potential. FICCI is very excited to partner with GFI India to transform our food system. There's an enormous opportunity for the smart protein sector to create linkages with Indian farmers and ensure that the protein supply comes from local producers."
The last couple of years have seen a stark growth in the Indian smart protein ecosystem. New technologies, start-ups and investments are driving the mission to provide consumers with sustainable alternatives to conventional proteins.
What Is Plant-Based Meat/Faux Meat:
Plant-based foods that are rich in proteins are converted into meat-like foods that are similar in typical meat texture and taste. The molecular structure remains the same, giving the similar experience of animal proteins to consumers.
While conversing with Varun Desphande, he reiterated the need to become 'Aatma Nirbhar' in the smart protein arena as well. He said, "We have crop diversity, a globally competitive talent pool, and hundreds of people working on this opportunity. We need an enabling policy environment for the sector to grow and thrive.
"I firmly believe that what we do about meat, will be the principal challenge of our lifetimes. 50+ companies have launched their smart protein products in markets across India. But we still have a long way to go in order to create a world where alternative proteins are no longer alternative," he added.
A report by GFI predicted the Indian market status for plant-based meat in near future. Here are the key findings:
The domestic market size for plant-based meat in 2030 ranges from INR 1,803 crore (USD 228 million) to INR 5,884 crore (USD 745 million).
The domestic market size for plant-based eggs in 2030 ranges from INR 527 crore (USD 67 million) to INR 1,416 crore (USD 179 million).
The domestic market size for plant-based dairy in 2030 ranges from INR 4,827 crore (USD 611 million) to INR 10,625 crore (USD 1.3 billion).
Will the plant-based meat eventually take over animal meat? Only time will tell.