What Indians think about Plant Meat- Market Survey by The India Watch

The Indian plant meat industry is sized at USD 20.4 million in FY 22. The market has grown by 55.8% over the past 12 months (In FY 21 the Indian plant meat market was sized at USD 13.1 million.) It is still a small market for a country, which has traditionally been a low meat-consuming nation. Nevertheless, the segment has tremendous future potential backed by preferences for a healthy lifestyle, slowly but gradually growing meatless movement, aggressively growing modern retail, expansive e-commerce, etc. 

Recent years have seen a host of start-ups emerging in the space such as Imagine Meat, Blue Tribe, Good Dot, Ahimsa Foods, Evo Foods, Vezlay, and many more. 

Growth Drivers of the Plant Meat Market in India

India’s plant meat industry is still small. However, the industry has plenty of potentials to take off and reshape India’s meat consumption. 

  • India is already becoming one of the largest meat-consuming nations in the world. As per the statistics revealed by the OECD, in 2020, Indians consumed 6 million tonnes of meat. This also means that there is a huge potential for mock meats and plant-based meat products as well.
  • The nascent mock meat market in India will be a party to favorable demographics in the country. The average age of Indians is 29. People aged below 35 comprise 65% of the overall population.
  • Indians already use a lot of food products made up of jackfruit, soybeans, Setin, legume-based proteins, etc. which are used in mock meat products. Familiarity with such products can make mock meat penetrate faster in the Indian markets.
  • Consumer behaviors are evolving in India and there is a growing trend toward living a healthy lifestyle. Increasingly, a section of the Indian population views plant meat as a healthy substitute for meats. It can give almost equal amounts of proteins without health-related problems such as indigestion and obesity.
  • Rapid growth in digital commerce and modern retail (supermarkets, hypermarkets, etc.) in conjunction with a proliferating f&b industry will continue to help increase the reach of innovative plant-based meat products.
  • The bombastic growth in social media, video content consumption, Instagram, etc. can be very beneficial in increasing awareness about such products.
  • Meat consumption has increased in India and around 50% of the population consumes meat once a week. Yet there is a sizable population in the country that are either pure vegetarian or flexitarian (occasionally consuming meat.) For such a population, plant meat can be a good source of proteins.
  • Indian celebs have shown interest in the segment. Bollywood actors Ritesh Deshmukh and Genelia Dsouza promote a Plant meat company, Imagine Meat. Indian cricketer Virat Kohli and Bollywood actress Anushka Sharma have also invested in indigenous plant meat brand Blue Tribe.  

Headwinds in the Industry

Despite a potential market, the current market for plant meat is still relatively small in India. There are numerous factors that have been hampering growth. 

  • There is limited awareness about the plant meat/ mock meat/ meat analog in India. 
  • There is a limited human resource available in India in terms of food technology, food processing science, and food biochemistry. Indian start-ups have replicated fake meats successfully, yet there is limited expertise in terms of the underlying technology.
  • As a country, India is vast and diverse and the same is reflected in its gastronomic choices. What might be liked in the North might not be preferred much in the South. The popular cuisines in the Northeastern states will be different from the ones in the Western states of Maharashtra. This also makes it difficult for plant meat producers to create a uniform menu.  
  • Indian start-ups have successfully created plant-based meats that are cheaper than the western world. However, they are still more expensive than regular meats, which has undermined their quick adoption.  
  • The space is mostly run by start-ups. Apart from ITC, which has ventured into the segment under the flagship of “Master Chef”, other big FMCG companies have not yet targeted the space.  

How Indians View Plant Meat Consumption: Survey by www.theindiawatch.com.

To further evaluate how Indians view plant meat, at www.theindiawatch.com, we have conducted a major survey of 400 respondents. The survey comprised 297 men and the remaining (103) women. 47% of the respondents were aged 26-35. The survey respondents mostly comprised middle/ upper middle-income households with an average income of over INR 1.6 million/ annum. 

As per the survey, 63% of the respondents have suggested that they are willing to try plant meat/ mock meats. 31% of respondents implied they aren’t willing to try. The remaining are inconclusive. 

On being asked about the key parameter that can motivate people to switch to plant-based meat, 69% of the respondents strongly believe that the idea of animal welfare. Other parameters that can be helpful are environmental wellbeing (52%) and preference for a healthier lifestyle (54%). 

There is still a limited amount of awareness about the product in the market. Though 89% of the respondents are aware of the term “Plant-based meat”, only 17% of the respondents know about fake meat. Likewise, only 9% of the respondents know about mock meat. Limited awareness of the product has also plagued the overall market of fake meats in India. 

While 57% of the respondents are willing to try plant-based meat biryani, 46% are willing to try kebabs. This is followed by 44% of respondents who showed interest in trying out the gravy-based item. 32% of the respondents have expressed interest in trying out burgers, while 34% can try nuggets. 

The survey by www.theindiawatch.com has also illustrated some valuable insights on how much Indians can spend weekly on plant-based meats. 23% of the respondents do not want to spend more than INR 200 weekly on fake meat products. A little less than 40% of the respondents can spend around INR 350-600. 21% of the survey respondents answered they can spend between INR 350-600 weekly. 

 Another critical survey findings have been about how Indians would prefer purchasing plant meat. 34% of the respondents indicated that they would prefer to buy products from specialized hypermarkets or supermarkets
. 29% of the respondents exhibited they would prefer buying online. Only 18% suggested they would buy from local grocery shops. 

Commenting on the survey, Mr. Paritosh Kashyap, Founder, www.theindiawatch.com, said, “The Indian plant meat industry is still in its nascent phases and the industry just holds a toehold in the overall meat industry in the country. Nevertheless, the attractive demographic dividend and evolving consumer behavior coupled with the cultural heritage of the country are conducive to the growth of plant-based meat or mock meats in the country.” 

“if the industry players can deliver on taste, textures, aroma, nutritional values, etc., we can see quick adoption of such products in the country. Meanwhile, both modern retail and online commerce channels have to be effectively used to penetrate the market. Not just the Tier cities but there are visible potentials in Tier 2 & 3 cities and it needs to be catered to effectively.” Mr. Kashyap further added. 

A potential segment to look into

There is a long yet enriching road ahead for the Indian plant meat industry. The demand is gradually picking up, yet it will comprise a small portion of the overall meat consumption in India. The market will be backed by favorable demographics, growing concern about environmental sustainability, and looking out for alternate sources of proteins. Likewise, there is a growing segment of the population, which is not comfortable with animal slaughter. However, they do have cravings for meat. For such consumers, mock meat can be a prudent alternate solution. 

The growth of D2C marketing will drive the demand. Similarly, numerous big retail outlets such as spencer, nature’s basket, reliance retail, etc. have started keeping plant meat products, which will help in the rise in awareness. Recently, coffee chain Starbucks has also partnered with Imagine meats to sell vegan kebabs, rolls, croissants, etc. in its cafes. Increasingly hotel chains and cafes are now opening to the idea of serving mock meat products. 

Apart from an evolving indigenous start-up ecosystem, international vegan meat producers are now showing interest in India. US-based Beyond Meat patties & sausages are sold through Urban Platter in India, a popular online gourmet retail store. In 2020, Imagine meat partnered with US-based nutritional company ADM to use their proprietary technologies and lab techniques to create Indian vegan cuisines such as Biryanis, Kebabs, Gravies, etc. 

As the meatless movement is gaining steam in the country, there is a tremendous opportunity for international producers to thrive in India. International ventures can mull partnering with local food manufacturers, start-ups, e-commerce & retail chains, F&B chains, etc. 

Moreover, the Indian government is also facilitating international investment in the food processing sector through policy support and a 100% FDI under the automatic route. Dedicated food parks have been created all over the country to support the food processing and manufacturing industry. 100% FDI is also allowed in single-brand retail and multi-brand food retail. To bridge the knowledge gap, the government is also spending on supporting research in the field of lab-grown meats. 

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