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Mumbai startup Blue Tribe Foods has welcomed Bollywood celebrity Anushka Sharma and her husband cricket star Virat Kohli on board as investors and brand ambassadors. The alliance draws global attention to India’s burgeoning smart protein sector. The company is one of India’s leading plant-based meat manufacturers. Sharma and Kohli have long been role models for cruelty-free lifestyles and are bolstering their beliefs with the new investment.
Blue Tribe was founded with support from the Good Food Institute India. The organisation has been supporting infrastructure development for the plant-based meat sector. 2022 has been cited as the year that all the groundwork pays off and India’s smart protein offerings can make a tangible impact.
The right influence
With close to 240 million Instagram followers combined, Sharma and Kohli are more than just influencers. Representing two culturally significant parts of Indian heritage, in Bollywood and cricket respectively, they reach audiences that most outreach professionals can only dream of. As a married couple, the two have followed a vegetarian diet together for years and now, are embracing plant-based meats.
“Virat and I have always been animal lovers,” Sharma said in a statement. “It’s been years since we decided to adopt a meat-free lifestyle. The collaboration with Blue Tribe is a step to tell people how they can be more conscious and leave less impact on the planet by switching to a plant-based diet. We hope that more people would like to understand the need for it and thus, help the planet and the life in it.”
Kohli commented to highlight the taste factor that formed part of their decision to partner with Blue Tribe. “At the end of the day, I’m a foodie too,” he said. “I want to enjoy the kind of food I love without leaving a huge carbon footprint. I know a lot of people feel the same way. This is why I believe, if we can have a lower dependence on meat, without short changing our taste buds, there is potential for a planet-changing impact. This is where Blue Tribe is proving to be a gamechanger, striking a perfect balance between food that’s really tasty AND good for the planet.”
The evolution of a brand
Blue Tribe grew throughout 2021, having launched at the start. It has developed keema, chicken and sausage products, the latter being the latest new release. The company claims to target the full breadth of consumers with its ranges. Vegans and vegetarians are drawn to the fully plant-based options, but Blue tribe also targets meat-eaters that can be swayed by taste.
Given that 60 percent of the population eats meat, this is a large demographic to focus on. Sharma and Kohli will endeavour to get the plant-based meat message across, via their social platforms and respective fan bases.
India’s plant-based sector on the rise
Sharma and Kholi are not the first high-profile Indian couple to throw their weight, and social media followers, behind a plant-based meat brand. In September of last year, beloved Bollywood duo Riteish and Genelia Deshmukh announced the launch of plant based brand Imagine Meats, which debuted in Mumbai and featured keema, mutton, kebabs and chicken alternatives. The company spent two years on R&D as part of their mission to help Indian consumers switch to ethical and sustainable food sources.
India’s growing smart protein sector is growing by the week with product launches and brands galore. Numerous new plant-based releases have come to fruition in recent weeks, with no sign of slowing. A Kerry study recently found India to be a major market driver for vegetarian and flexitarian foods, though future foods are on the cards too.
India has been highlighted as a country that could greatly benefit from cultivated meat, if investment in infrastructure were to increase. So far, the world’s second most populous country only counts two cultivated meat startups, namely Clear Meat and MyoWorks.
Lead photo by Anushka Sharma/Instagram.