Tag: India

Is India ready for lab-grown meat? (part 2)

India has been the fastest-growing major economy in the past few years. Within the next decades, India is also expected to surpass China and become the most populous country in the world. Can cultivated meat help to meet the country’s rising demand for protein? Varun Deshpande, Managing Director at Good Food Institute India, is quite confident that it will.

When Varun Deshpande started The Good Food Institute India in December 2017, his mission was to offer producers and consumers an alternative to industrial animal agriculture. Today, with the support of Varun and many others like him, start-ups working on alternative protein are revolutionizing India’s food ecosystem, and an entrepreneurial ecosystem is also taking shape. In an e-mail interview, Deshpande expressed optimism regarding the future development of cultivated meat in India. 

Supertrends: When do you expect cultured meat to become available on the Indian market? 

Varun Deshpande: As with the timelines for the global industry, the path to market for cultivated meat in India depends on regulatory frameworks and on the price of the final product. India is a very price-sensitive market with high chicken consumption (a meat typically priced more cheaply than red meats or other specialty meats), so we expect that cultivated meat may have a longer timeline to come to market in this country than in the rest of the world. The efforts of the Centre of Excellence (a partnership between the Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai, and the Good Food Institute India) and other work we are doing promise to accelerate that timeline, so that we can deliver affordable, sustainable protein to a growing population as soon as possible. 

In India, culture plays an important role in food consumption. What is or will be the social response to cultured meat in India? 

Early studies indicate promisingly high theoretical acceptance from consumers. Our cross-country survey of consumer acceptance regarding plant-based and cultivated meat (Bryant et al., Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems, 2019) indicates 56 percent of Indian consumers would be very or extremely likely to purchase cultivated meat regularly – and since increased familiarity with these foods tends to drive up that acceptance rate, you can expect that India will have a big market for cultivated meat over time. This is very heartening when you consider the rising protein demand in the country over the next decades – we will need to provide affordable, sustainable, delicious protein at scale to satisfy over a billion meat-eating Indians. 

What do you think are the advantages and challenges for the future of cultured meat in India? 

India’s advantage has always been the availability of excellent, resourceful talent, and our disadvantage has always been the enabling ecosystem supporting that talent. The relative dearth of labs, research funding, degree programs, and patient deep-technology-oriented capital has traditionally meant India’s technologists and entrepreneurs have to be even more resourceful than other countries, or migrate to those other countries – which is very unfortunate. Cultivated meat does, however, benefit from India’s thriving pharmaceutical sector, which is expected to reach US$150 billion by 2025. We’ve already begun tapping into this sector and its proven track record in affordable, high-quality manufacturing. Indian companies are already producing growth factors for use by global companies to cultivate cells, for instance, and Indian entrepreneurs are already in conversation with established international companies in the space for partnership opportunities. GFI India’s work moving forward will center on building up the enabling ecosystem for rapid technology transfer and market development, for example by fostering participation from further biopharma companies, setting up further labs and research consortiums, and nurturing talent from universities to participate in the cultivated meat explosion. I’m deeply optimistic that we can bring unique value to the global ecosystem, particularly with our own team at GFI India, which is growing to include a Cultivated Meat Specialist (hiring now!). 

What is the impact of COVID-19 crisis for cultured meat industry in India? Will people stay away from all meat products, or will it be an opportunity for cultured meat? 

COVID-19 is accelerating the convergence towards animal-free supply chains globally, and resulting in tragic consequences for the legacy meat industry in India. The pandemic and its effects on consumer perception have meant that demand for chicken has temporarily fallen off a cliff, with farmers needing to cull their stock by burying chickens alive, thereby running tremendous losses. This mirrors recent worrying outbreaks of African swine fever and avian flu in the Indian meat supply. While cultivated meat companies like ClearMeat and research projects like the one at CCMB have needed to pause research work, the long-term prognosis for the sector remains hugely positive – it offers a means of resilience even to legacy animal meat producers who may want to future-proof their business. The drivers for consumers and businesses therefore align perfectly for cultivated meat to succeed in the country over time – but plenty of work remains to drive cost-parity and the enabling ecosystem first! 

Visit the Supertrends App and search for ‘cultured meat’ to find out when cultured chicken will be available on the Indian market. Not an App user yet? Visit the Supertrends Pro – page to learn about your benefits and request a trial – for free!

© 2020 Supertrends 

Is India ready for lab-grown meat? (part 1)

With two government-backed research facilities, a young and well-developed startup company, and a population of 1.35 billion, will India become the next frontier in cell-based meat after the US?

Will India become the next frontier in lab-grown meat?

In 2016, India’s domestic poultry consumption was ranked as the fifth-largest in the world. With its growing population, rising disposable incomes, and changing food habits, the country needs more protein products to keep pace. The authorities in India seem to have the political will to encourage cell-based protein.

Two facilities with the back of the Indian government will soon pursue research into cell-based meat. The Centre of Excellence in Cellular Agriculture, which plans to start its first phase of operations in 2020 in Maharashtra, is a partnership between the government-funded Institute of Chemical Technology Mumbai and The Good Food Institute India. The second facility, to be based in Hyderabad, will benefit from a US$640,000 grant from the Indian government’s Department of Biotechnology.

With the world’s second-largest population as potential customers, government investment in research facilities, and good access to biopharmaceutical and mechanical engineering expertise, will India become the next frontier in cell-based meat after the US?

Chicken meat will be the first lab-grown meat in India

Meat consumption is profoundly affected by religious beliefs and culture. This is particularly true in India, home to at least nine recognized religions. For those religions that do allow meat diets, chicken meat is one of the few animal proteins that are not subject to restrictions. In India, it is considered the most popular protein.

Siddharth Manvati is the co-founder and the scientific brain behind ClearMeat, a lab-grown meat company

Siddharth Manvati is the co-founder and the scientific brain behind ClearMeat, the only Indian startup in the field of cultured meat. In an interview with Supertrends, Manvati was very excited about his company’s achievements with lab-grown chicken. “Apart from our investors, you are the first person to know that we have achieved industrial proof of concept, which means we have successfully tested our cell-based chicken technology in our lab and small industrial-scale. We will now focus on obtaining a viable market product.” Manvati outlined some other future steps that ClearMeat is planning: a successful tasting event, making the concept of lab-grown chicken acceptable to customers, and working with the authorities on regulations. All these parameters have to be in place before the cultivated chicken is ready to hit the retail shelves.

Win over Indian consumers

Indian consumers tend to be price-sensitive, and but also highly quality-conscious. Manvati believes that price is a decisive factor in winning over Indian consumers. Once the price is right, consumers will take into consideration the taste and texture.

One concern that Manvati does have is that there are too few Asian companies in the cultured meat industry. Based on population growth and changes in the eating habits of Asians, Manvati believes the Asian market will consume up to 80 percent of all animal protein produced. This means there is an imbalance between demand and supply.

Although Manvati did not want to give a specific date for a tasting event for ClearMeat, he did tell Supertrends when he expects cultivated chicken to be available in the Indian market. We look forward to hearing the news of a traditional Indian dish – chicken Keema made with lab-grown chicken.

Continue reading about our outlook on the cultured meat industry in India:

© 2020 Supertrends

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