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Plant-Based Foods Expo 2024 at AAHAR: Driving Pioneering Initiatives in Food Industry

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India Plant-Based Foods Show 2024 hosted its 4th mega convention on the opening day at AAHAR at Bharat Mandapam, Pragati Maidan, New Delhi. Organized by the Plant Based Food Industry Association (PBFIA), the show catalyzed a surge of pioneering initiatives and collaborations within the food production and distribution domains.

The convention showcased the boundless potential of plant-based foods through exhibitions, demonstrations, panel discussions and presentations. It featured presentations from luminaries, including Abhishek Dev, Chairman, Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA); Inoshi Sharma, Executive Director, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI); Dr. Sudhanshu, Secretary, APEDA; Satyam Shivam Sundaram, Partner, EY; Valeria Kryntskaya, Head, Plant-Based Ventures at THRYVE in Dubai; Victor Sonovas, Commercial Attache, Embassy of Spain, and many other distinguished speakers.

Serving as an unparalleled platform for global industry leaders and visionary entrepreneurs, the event attracted over 40 startups from around the world. One of the event’s highlights was the Startup Pitch Session, where aspiring entrepreneurs presented their ideas to a panel of industry experts and investors. There were stimulating discussions about ways to enhance the customer experience through B2B, B2C, and D2C modes involving an insightful panel comprising Amarjit Singh Ahuja of Purchasing Professional Forums India,  Ashu Phakey of ITC Ltd, and  Dhiren Kawar of Keva Flavours.

Another session focused on understanding the need for grooming talent pool for plant-based food industries led by Chef K. Thiru, Principal, Welcomegroup School of Hotel Management, Manipal University. Following the need for innovation, an erudite panel discussed various ways of replacing conventional dairy and animal products with plant-based alternatives. These discussions shed light on the positive impacts of plant-based diets on both the environment and human health.

These discussions will recommence at the 3rd Plant Based Foods Summit scheduled on 21st May, 2024, at Hotel Le Meridian in New Delhi.

Sanjay Sethi, Executive Director, PBFIA emphasized the imperative of seizing the challenges confronting the industry by transforming them into opportunities. “Among these challenges lies a notable market gap: the demand for high-quality ingredients to combat the locally produced raw material shortage,” he stated.

“Addressing this gap, with initiatives such as India’s First Plant Protein Cluster at Bhiwadi, not only facilitates the production of superior products but also plays a pivotal role in enhancing consumer perceptions across various product categories. Moreover, it provides a platform for refining the positioning of plant-based alternatives, ensuring they resonate with evolving consumer preferences for sustainability, health, and taste. By prioritizing the sourcing and utilization of premium ingredients, the industry can fortify its offerings, elevate standards, and cultivate trust and loyalty among discerning consumers,” added Sethi.

Abhishek Dev, Chairman, Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) highlighted the growth of the plant-based foods industry stating the capability of the current global market of US$11.3 billion to reach 36 US$ billion by 2033. The Chairman also expounded on the potential of Indian market having a CAGR of 15% and industry estimate of $5 billion dollars by 2033. Asserting APEDA’s support, he said, “With a target of increasing exports by 100 billion by 2033, we aim to incorporate plant-based foods as a focus product in our export strategy and offer subsidized rates for startups to be part of upcoming conventions, helping them to emerge in the market.”

FSSAI’s Executive Director, Inoshi Sharma stated, “Our perception of the plant-based foods has been a huge challenge, which is mostly due to their presentation in the society. The regulations on the startup industry, especially the classification of soy milk as a beverage are a matter of contention and needs to be addressed.”

In partnership with EY, PBFIA also launched its breakthrough report, ‘Food Tomorrow: Elevating India’s Role in the Plant-Based Revolution’ exploring the potential for plant-based nutrition in India, with a particular emphasis on plant-protein clusters.

Satyam Shivam Sundaram, Partner, EY, affirmed their support for plant-based choices and said “We need to collaborate and lead the way of sustainability and healthy choices. Together, we can achieve more at a lesser cost. As a part of this common goal, we need to facilitate research and developments, offer space for innovation and create holistic ecosystems. Through proper education and awareness, we can have a major shift in the perspective, making plant-based food mainstream instead of it being an alternative.”

Renowned human rights activist Kalpana Das pointed her perspective of consuming milk to be cruelty and advised to adopt soy-based and other plant-based options aiding in the reduction of carbon footprint.

Tejendra Nehete, Business Development Manager, Pall Corporation, highlighted the untapped potential of pea protein market, especially the capability of India to lead pea protein market as it is the highest supplier and consumer of pea. He asked to shift the trends, reduce imports and become ‘Vocal for Local’.

Aditya Bagri, Director, Baggry’s, highlighted the scientific presence of allergens as an undiagnosed characteristic of the food industry. There needs to be a shift from the animal and dairy-based diet to plant-based options that are rich in protein and helps to have a healthy lifestyle and longevity, a move necessary for sustainability.

DBS Bank delivered a comprehensive presentation on the innovative financing solutions for SMEs. The focal point of the convention was a panel discussion, moderated by Sanjay Sethi, on the indispensable need to establish Plant Protein Clusters across India, accentuating PBFIA’s initiative of setting up the first plant protein cluster at Bhiwadi.

Recognizing the potential, the Protein Cluster plans to capitalize on the abundant agricultural resources and establish the nation as the world’s “Global Ingredient Hub.” The association is spearheading the transformation of plant-based food production landscape by building 12 Plant Protein Clusters around the country with an expected investment of USD 500 million.

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