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AAK Kamani, India’s leading manufacturer of specialty oils and fats, has just partnered with the nonprofit Good Food Institute India (GFI India) to promote Indian innovation in the plant-based foods space. The collaboration will see AAK host sessions to help businesses and entrepreneurs to capitalise on the opportunity presented by the rapidly growing vegan meat and dairy alternative market.
GFI India has partnered up with AAK Kamani to promote research and innovation in India’s growing plant-based food market. As a part of the program, AAK’s Customer Innovation Centre in Mumbai will host Academy Sessions designed to help participants take advantage of the significant business potential that exists in India’s plant-based meat and dairy alternative categories.
Expertise offered by GFI India will help companies accelerate the research and development of new products, with a specific focus on optimising sensory experience and achieving local tastes. The partnership is linked to AAK’s international AkoPlanet initiative, which is a platform for plant-based food innovation.
“We can provide more support to both established food producers and start-ups, promoting the fast-track development of plant-based meat and dairy alternatives for the Indian market,” said president of AAK Kamani Dheeraj Talreja.
Niall Sands, president of plant-based foods at AAK, added: “Developing great-tasting plant-based foods is one of the main challenges today.”
“We must continue to improve the sensory experience…[and] be mindful of the need to adapt to regional taste preferences.”
With a population of 1.3 billion, and growing to overtake China as the most populous country in the world in the near future, India faces huge challenges in terms of food security – challenges that will be exacerbated by climate-related weather events that are already affecting crop yields.
Scientists have long pointed to the unsustainability of animal agriculture as a core part of the broken global food system. The United Nations estimates that the industry is responsible for 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and is a key driver of deforestation, high water wastage and contamination.
Although consumers have become increasingly aware of the environmental footprint of animal protein, this awareness has grown significantly due to the current Covid-19 pandemic, which has underscored the multitude of dangers of the current food system, from exacerbating climate change, food insecurity, antimicrobial resistance and danger of emerging diseases.
“Accelerating the development of the plant-based meat, egg and dairy sector is therefore imperative to building a more secure and resilient protein supply,” explained Varun Deshpande, managing director of GFI India.
“Indian businesses and scientists have immense potential to be at the center of this development, driving affordability and sensory experiences as well as cultural appeal in transformative plant-based foods – but they need support on their journey.”
Prior to the pandemic, Indian consumers have shown willingness to try more plant-based products for health and environmental reasons. In a Frontiers report published last year, Indian and Chinese consumers demonstrated far higher interest in trying alternative proteins than their American counterparts.
Innovation to develop affordable alternatives will be key to ignite a mass shift amongst mainstream consumers, with a study published in November last year revealing that the key obstacle is cost and accessibility for Indian shoppers who want to make more sustainable purchasing choices.
Lead image courtesy of Beyond Meat.