Is vegan food succeeding in penetrating the Indian market?
With the number of vegans increasing every day in India, a variety of healthy and delicious plant-based options are available.
The popularity of vegan food is slowly gaining traction in India. Over the past few years, people have not only started to appreciate the concept of veganism, but they have also embraced it in their lives. According to a United Nations FAO report, India has the lowest meat consumption rate in the world, as 44% of the 1.3 billion people are Hindus. According to rough estimates, there were around 500 million vegetarians in India in 2020 and of these, only 1% are strict vegans. Thus, the total number of vegans in India is around five million.
The word “vegan” was coined in 1944 by Donald Watson, the co-founder of the Vegan Society. The term was originally used to describe “dairy-free vegetarians”, the Vegan Society updated the definition to: “…exclude all forms of animal exploitation…” in 1951.
Today, people have a variety of plant-based food options that are both healthy and tasty. And more and more of them now prefer a vegan diet and so catering to this growing number becomes a big task. To find out if Indian food producers and restaurants are ready to meet the needs of vegan customers and if the market is ready for the challenge of providing more plant-based food options, BWH reached out to industry experts. .
Anoop Haridasan, co-founder of plant-based meat start-up Shaka Harry, explains how India is performing as a market for vegan customers: “Vegan customers in India, although small at present, are growing rapidly. Product offerings are quite limited, however, especially when customers are looking for a replacement for a meat product. However, achieving the same taste, texture and aroma of meat, using only plant-based ingredients, is a difficult task. We use the latest innovations to ensure that each product is developed in such a way that even a meat eater will enjoy the product just as much.
Haridasan adds that there is a strong demand for plant-based meat, which is why his company has launched nine new products. “The demand is such that we had to make it available in Delhi and Mumbai earlier than planned. We are now working to increase the availability of our product in the few major cities. In terms of marketing, we do the dual work of brand building and category building, so we’re doing a lot of sampling and increasing the ways people can experience our products,” he says.
To cater to the growing number of people, more and more restaurants and bakeries are now offering vegan dishes on the menu. “Veganism is not just a fad; it’s definitely here to stay. When I started there were no vegan options and today vegan customers are offered dairy free options on the menus. People, after the pandemic, have become more aware of food consumption. This has led people to opt for a plant-based lifestyle. The future isn’t plant-based, it’s the present that is,” shares Raveena Taurani, founder and CEO of plant-based cafe Yogisattva which took off in 2015.
Elaborating on the inclusive approach of her brand and the strategy adopted to attract not only vegan customers but also all those who want to lead a healthy lifestyle, she says: “I don’t think it’s a market strategy rather than a core brand belief system in Yogisattva. I don’t believe in excluding someone just because they choose to eat a certain way. I’m not here to preach about what I eat. I am here simply to share what I eat with you.
Sharing similar thoughts, Roma Roy Choudhury, founder of Evolved Foods, says the products can either be replaced with animal products or complement them. “Product positioning is relevant for anyone looking to make meals low in fat and high in protein. Our post focuses on tasty, ready-to-cook protein to replace or supplement paneer or meat in everyday meals. It is versatile and can be easily cooked in different ways. This positioning will appeal to people looking to make their daily meals healthy and high in protein, regardless of their dietary preferences.
Choudhury explains that some consumers may find vegan products too expensive because industries have to produce in volume to save money, but at the same time, the willing-to-pay population is growing day by day. “It is undeniable that certain categories of consumers will find plant-based meat products too expensive. As you would expect from most emerging industries, volumes need to increase for companies to achieve economies of scale that will eventually trickle down to end consumers and it’s only a matter of time as as the ecosystem becomes more robust and adoption continues. at the top. However, at the same time, there is a growing population that is willing to pay a premium for plant-based meat, organic produce, ethically sourced produce and sustainable alternatives,” she concludes.