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In the Indian market, the consumer base for the plant-based food is increasingly millennials who want to incorporate more sustainable and suitable plant or healthy products in their everyday lives. As plant-based eating continues to gain popularity in the nation, there was a substantial increase in the number of vegan products introduced last year, according to reports. Is this the next sunshine sector, or just a fad that will die a natural death? Read on.

What is a plant-based industry?

A final product made from materials originating from plants, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes, is referred to as a plant-based food. The market for plant-based foods comprises foods that don’t contain any elements of animal origin, either during processing or as part of the finished product, and are used as substitutes for foods that would otherwise contain such substances. For example, moving to plant-based meat alternatives produced in a cruelty-free and hygienic environment can help stop problems with animal husbandry like disease outbreaks. Using plant-based meat alternatives helps safeguard sustainability, save vulnerable farm animals’ lives, and lower greenhouse gas emissions. The general population is aware of these truths.

What is a consumer-based industry?

This means the completed goods produced by this industry can be used directly by customers, such as toothpaste, paper, textiles, etc.

Growth of plant-based consumer products in India

According to research from 2020, 62.8% of Indians were very or extremely likely to buy plant-based meat alternatives, compared to 48.7% who would choose domesticated meat. Plant-based meat alternatives is primarily driven by western influence and doesn’t necessarily offer consumers in India versatility or convenience. Also, in a largely vegetarian-friendly country like India, there are a lot of tastier and more sustainable vegetarian sources of protein available.

Due to increased knowledge of lactose intolerance and a general shift towards greater well-being, we can observe a fantastic surge in plant-based dairy substitutes in India. Worldwide, the market for plant-based or non-dairy milk alternatives is one of the fastest expanding segments in the functional and specialty beverage area of newer food product development. Plant-based milk is the front runner of this change, and almond and oat milk have gotten a fantastic response from consumers. There is a growing emphasis on offering plant-based options and plant-based substitutes for animal-based foods like dairy and meats.

What has influenced the growth

Customers claim to consume more plant-based foods for several reasons, such as bettering their general health, controlling their weight, wanting to eat clean, and eating more sustainably. One can see why more and more people are choosing plant-based foods and beverages when one considers the increased adulteration in the food and dairy industries.

Many athletes and well-known people choose plant-based diets to increase performance and lifespan due to their health benefits. Celebrities are often spotted supporting vegan diets and delicacies. A favorable celebrity-led social media narrative has driven people to become curious and adopt plant-based alternatives. The newest members of the army are Virat Kohli and Anoushka Sharma. They support a company that produces plant-based meat. As a result of the increasing demand, the food and beverage business is seeing an increase in participants, including eateries, lodging facilities, and even cutting-edge startups. Even venture investors have been spotted investing in the sector, helping entrepreneurs usher in the transformation.

Future in India

India has one of the best innovative capabilities for developing plant-based alternatives, given our heritage and understanding of cuisine, food technology, and culinary arts. From a business point of view, it is a great business to be in and offers a significant export opportunity. It is predicted that shortly, consumers worldwide will opt for products with better value, clean-label ingredients, and uncomplicated/simplified products.

Given India’s enormous population, plant-based products have a promising future. There would be a significant effect on the environment and the lives of animals if vast portions of the population moved to a plant-based diet. Since the flavor, feel, and appeal of meat are already deeply ingrained in the non-vegetarian population, companies that cater to plant-based consumer bases will need to work hard to replicate that experience in their products if they wish to compete in the market.

The distribution of e-commerce has played a significant role in facilitating discovery and sales, and the onset of short commerce has further accelerated this process. This is an excellent opportunity for startups and existing businesses to gain market share rapidly. Due to this, plant-based nutritious food products are now more widely available and reasonably priced than anyone could have dreamed a few years ago. And given India’s development path, which is expected to fuel the next significant wave of FDI, the vegan revolution is here to stay.

Source : The Times of India 14th Oct 2022 by Chirag Kenia