Mock-Meat segment is the future of food-tech in India
Born as a start-up and matured as a highly successful enterprise, GoodDot has committed itself to the cause of veganism by mainstreaming plant-based alternatives that taste just as good as meat. With the core team working on the project since 2013, the actual company was set up four years ago.Apart from taste, affordability forms key aspects of GoodDot’s strategy. Selling its products across the nation today, GoodDot\’s products are also being served at vegan fast food outlets called GoodDo, which is owned by a sister company. GoodDo had been ranked as world’s number two vegan food truck by Lonely Planet. These outlets serve hot & fresh mock meat dishes across almost 12+ food stations in cities like Mumbai, Udaipur and Jaipur.After receiving a lot of interests and queries for his plant-based meat products in IndusFood 2020, Abhishek Sinha, CEO, GoodDot interacts with us and gives us an account of the current trend of veganism in the world. He opines that if we get an alternative product that tastes like meat and is affordable and convenient, then large scale transition from animal meat to meat alternatives is very much possible across the globe. Read the following major excerpts from the interview to know more fascinating facts about this industry.
IndusFood: How do you see the evolution of Vegetarianism globally at present?
Abhishek Sinha: Vegetarianism as a concept has been very well known; however recently a newer term has been introduced, which is Veganism. Vegetarianism entails non-consumption of meat, fish and eggs. On the other hand, Veganism talks about the non-consumption of even dairy products, honey etc. A vegan lifestyle abstains from the usage of any product coming from animals. Amongst other things, this includes abstaining from consumption of meat, egg, fish, dairy, honey etc and also non usage of leather, wool, cosmetics having animal products etc.Incidentally, there has been a lot of awareness and buzz regarding this term, globally. There are three important reasons for the same. Firstly, the environmental footprint of the animal industry is immense and that has created a lot of serious problems to the environment as animal industry is one of the biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Secondly, health concerns associated with meat consumption are also alarming. Lots of research has come out recently regarding the negative effects of consumption of meat on our health. Because of large quantities of cholesterol, antibiotics and growth hormones found in meat, its consumption is harmful for human health. It is also a well-established fact that meat consumption has been linked to increased risk of diabetes, heart diseases, cancer etc. In fact WHO has placed processed Red Meat as a Group 1 carcinogen.Thirdly, now-a-days because of social media, an increasing number of people around the globe are realizing the extreme level of cruelty that is involved in the animal industry. This awareness is also turning away lot of people from meat consumptions.Thus, accounting to all the above reasons a growing number of population is adopting plant-based foods in their diets.
IndusFood: Which are the major markets where this is picking up and why?
AS: The major markets where the plant-based trend is picking up are US, Canada, UK, Germany, Netherlands, Australia and Israel. Countries like China, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam and Singapore have traditionally been big markets for plant-based alternatives. Recently, newer technology products are further increasing the consumption of plant-based products in these countries also.India, we believe is the dark horse in this market. We have witnessed such an exciting response at the grassroots here that we believe that India can potentially be the biggest market for these products in the days ahead.Now, when we talk of major markets that can be export destinations for India, I will say that the entire globe becomes our field. Recently, there has been a lot of awareness created across the globe about plant-based meat. Thus, the entire globe can be a major market for us and specifically America, UK, Canada, S. E Asia, Dubai, Africa, Australia and even China can be quite huge markets for these products.
IndusFood: How well equipped is the industry to meet this global demand at present?
AS: Globally the industry is really heating up. All the major global players are working hard to grab a share of this exciting market because they are seeing that this trillion dollar segment is ripe for some serious disruption. In India, we are the leading players in this space and are poised to take a big leap in 2020. The established leaders in FMCG space are now realising the extent of the potential in this space. So we can expect more players entering the space in India. Having said that, the tipping point has come and we are ready to utilize the immense opportunities opening up. We are also in line for a few important strategic tie-ups in 2020, following which would help us to be among top producers & exporters of plant-based meats in the world.Since, there is no universal solution in this industry, every individual player is developing its own technology and solutions. However, going by the talent, resources and expertise in the industry, academia and research institutions in India, there are very strong chances of developing core expertise in this space. So, we will have more players, we will also have cost advantages and we will always have a huge domestic market advantage apart from exports. I must say that the plant-based meat segment is the future of food-tech in India.
IndusFood: How do you view the potential of this trend in India?
AS: Veganism is becoming a huge movement across the globe. This will be the case in India too. Beyond Meat, a plant-based meat company based out in America, came up with its IPO in USA only a few months back. That has been among the most successful IPOs since a decade across sectors in the American Stock Market. This validates the huge tremors, which are disrupting the annual 1.4 trillion dollar animal meat industry. Even the major international meat manufacturing companies like Tyson foods, Cargill USA, JBS, Brazil; all major players have entered into the plant-based meat sector. Global FMCG Giants like Nestle, Unilever etc have also entered into the space.Furthermore, India, I believe, is the most ready market for these products. In the coming years, India will become the largest market for Plant-Based meat products in the globe.It stems from the fact that in India, 72% of people are meat eaters and 28% are vegetarians. And this is the largest percentage as well as absolute numbers of vegetarians in the world. Moreover the people who are meat eaters in India are not against vegetarianism. As you see, vegetarian values are ingrained in India. So, someone who eats meat in India eats it primarily for taste. Its consumption is not strongly linked to culture, health etc. Thus, if we get a product that tastes like meat, which is good for environment, good for health and is as affordable as meat, then an average consumer in India would be quite open for these products.
Indusfood: What are the barriers/challenges to gaining traction in the Indian market?
AS: Creating awareness is the major important factor. In fact, Good Food Institute of America, University of Bath, UK and Centre for Long Term Priorities of Hong Kong conducted a large-scale survey in three countries, India, China and America to study the consumer acceptance of plant-based meat. Surprisingly, India topped the list with 63% of the average consumer willing to try out plant-based meat. China stood nearer to India with 62% and America was a distant third with 37%. Now, evidently, China has a 1,200 years old history with Plant-based meat so the high numbers are understandable but it was still lower than India. In America, where billions of dollars were invested in awareness, is way behind. Thus, awareness is the only challenge. So, if the awareness is created, we are the most fertile ground for plant-based meat products in the world.Do you remember the times when Maggie was launched in India? They arranged contests, tasting sessions and prize distribution in various schools and colleges, wherein they were made to taste the product. Now, mock-meat is an entirely new concept, which is hard to believe. So, it is very important and necessary to create awareness amongst the consumers and get them to taste it.The industry here needs to believe in its ability to produce the best Plant-based solutions in the world and not just try to follow what is being done outside the country. We have all the skill sets. It is just the question of belief and hard work.
IndusFood: What changes can be made at a policy level to facilitate this industry?
AS: A lot of developed countries are identifying that the animal industry is contributing to greenhouse gas emission. They are even thinking of imposing a carbon tax on the animal industry. However, we are not suggesting the same in India. We think there should rather be a parity with the Animal industry. For example, meat, chicken etc. have 0% GST, whereas, we pay anywhere 12-18% of GST across products. A level playing field in this space can help the sector.Also, there are lot of start-ups which are coming up. They need funding for Research, development, scaling up, branding and marketing, and for a start-up doing it on its own is really difficult. So getting access to capital is another problem for start-ups, which the government should look into.
IndusFood: How do you see the current stature and potential for India as a major exporter in this segment?
AS: India can be a major producer and exporter of such products because we have got strong agricultural inputs, good talent (R&D and manufacturing), we have cost advantage as compared with the western world. So in a way that China has become a hub of manufacturing sector, India can become a hub for food processing sector. The trillion dollar-plus meat industry would be disrupted by products which are as affordable as meat and not with products which are much more premium that meat. Most of the international alternative meat products are very costly. They would need to find ways to bring the cost of the products down to the level of animal meat for large-scale disruption of the Meat industry. On the other hand, with all things conducive, Indian companies can make a strong push in the market.
IndusFood: What has been your experience in the recently organized third edition of IndusFood on 08-09 Jan 2020?
AS: It was the first time when we participated in the show. The most attractive part of the show was the quality of people who participated; one being the exhibitors who have innovated some seriously amazing things and products and the other being the industry- oriented buyers, who were genuinely interested in sourcing and were looking for innovative solutions. Overall, we had a very good experience in IndusFood 3rd edition. We received serious enquiries from UK, Australia and Dubai. We are at an advanced stage of negotiations for introduction of our products in these markets. With active support from the government and facilitators like TPCI, we expect more and more results in the near future.