Transforming the future of food, The economics behind Smart Protein, and its impact on public and planetary health
MUMBAI: The Good Food Institute India (GFI India), the central expert organization and convening body in the ‘alternative protein’ or ‘smart protein’ sector, successfully organized its annual flagship event – The Smart Protein Summit 2021 recently. The Summit received an overwhelming response from 1,800 plus delegates and key stakeholders.
The essential event for the smart protein ecosystem in India – graced by keynote addresses from industry titans – brought together the smart protein ecosystem across the business, science, and policy to deliberate on the need for continued, bold, visionary action towards a more secure, sustainable, and just food system. Apart from 18+ panels across 3 days, GFI India convened several closed-door ‘Smart Protein Industry Forum’ roundtable sessions. The invite-only discussions focused on key whitespace areas in the smart protein sector, with an emphasis to form meaningful collaborations and alliances to move forward the industry and go from conversation to action. With 70+ participants representing some of the world’s largest food companies; leading venture capital firms and startups from; and some of India’s most reputable science & research institutions, these roundtables provided diverse stakeholders with a platform to come together to accelerate industry and policy advancement in the smart protein sector.
Day 1 of The Smart Protein Summit 2021 had various interesting sessions which included the Innovators Showcase, a platform for aspirational entrepreneurs to showcase and pitch their innovative ideas to a panel of investors, followed by panel discussions such as ‘Serving up the Future: Cooking, conversation, and consumer insights’, ‘A Springboard for Innovation: Smart protein for every plate’, ‘Financing the Transformation: Investors across the smart protein landscape’, and ‘Blazing a Trail: Plant-based start-ups at the frontier of innovation’.
Opening Day 1 with a Keynote Address, Mr. Suresh Narayanan, Chairman & Managing Director, Nestle India Limited said,
“Plant-based protein products for consumers that are nutritionally efficacious and optimal cost, will get acceptance. The transformation of India will happen – when alt proteins become mainstream, affordable, and no longer unfamiliar. Feeding Indians, both today and in the future, nutritious products should be a national mission and a personal mission for all of us.”
Varun Deshpande, Managing Director, GFI India said:
“In India, we are finally seeing the sector take off, with new launches and partnerships from exciting brands being announced every week. Many academic and government partnerships are coming to fruition, and large corporations are beginning to enter the fray meaningfully. It’s very gratifying to see this all come together, but we need government, industry, and academia to come together in a Mission for Smart Protein so we can build a thriving sunrise sector and share affordable, sustainable, accessible, and delicious protein to billions. We have the opportunity to work side by side with climate experts, public health advocates, and other stakeholders so that in one stroke, we could invest in the industries of the future, stave off climate change, and safeguard food security and public health for our growing population, for generations.”
Genelia Deshmukh, Founder, Imagine Meats said:
“We launched Imagine Meats 2 months ago and we thought we would take a while to go into other cities – but the response was amazing with people all over India asking us when we were entering their cities. With the kind of response and curiosity we saw, we sped up and we’re already planning to launch our next 4 products! It’s been so encouraging to see the plant-based industry grow – and it’s continuing to grow.”
Opening Day 2 with a Keynote Address, Siraj Chaudhry, Former Chairman, Cargill India, Current Managing Director & CEO, NCML said,
“We’re a severely protein-deficient country – as we grow our protein consumption, we have the opportunity to set a different path to it. Plant-based meat recipes have to be created to fit within traditional Indian recipes. India has a history of creating pulses – there are ingredients that are within our grasp and we have so many protein sources that can be purposed into plant-based protein.”
Day 2 of the Summit went on to focus on the business and science of smart Protein. The first-panel discussion of the day ‘Smart Protein Economics: Transforming India’s Economic Future’ had eminent speakers like Anand Ramanathan, Partner – Customer and Marketing, Deloitte India; Anya Eldan, VP, Israel Innovation Authority; and Arun Seth, Board Member Jubilant Pharmova & Narayana Health.
That plant-based meat market can be a multi-billion dollar opportunity for India, and Anand Ramanathan, Partner – Customer and Marketing, Deloitte India said: “It is not sustainable for us to practice food cultivation in the way we have over the past years. Supply, at times, can create demand, and awareness building can then increase demand. Demand generation – on the back of great exports – can be looked at domestically as well.”
Day 3 of Smart Protein Summit was centered around public and planetary health. The event witnessed four exciting sessions focused on the sustainable development of food and farming for the benefit of the planet and the public.
Vinita Bali, Former Managing Director & CEO, Britannia Industries, as a keynote speaker on Day 3 of Smart Protein Summit, said: “We need to understand why plant-based protein is substituting animal protein contextually – why is that relevant for India? What is the best way of addressing this market? We need to ensure this is not going to be yet another product for the elite few. If we do, then it can be a solution for hundreds of millions of undernourished Indians.”
She further said: “We’ve started talking about millets a lot more – and many things are part of the Indian diet – and we need to take inspiration from what our grandmothers’ diets used to be and what they ate. The smart protein agenda involves several stakeholders – we in the nutrition community have always said that we need to enhance people’s access to nutritious foods.”
Uma Valeti, CEO/Founder, Upside Foods, as a keynote speaker at the Smart Protein Summit 2021, expressed his views, “As a cardiologist, I would be able to save a few thousand lives, but with cultivated meat, I can save billions of human lives and trillions of animal lives.”
Set against the backdrop of the Global Conference of Parties (COP26), the Smart Protein Summit 2021 advanced critical discussions and actions towards building a new pillar of the green economy. All over the world, innovators are producing the future of protein — delicious, nutritious meat, eggs, and dairy, made from plants, cells, and microorganisms, with vastly better implications for planetary and public health. It’s become clear that the world needs a more secure, sustainable, and just food system — and the smart protein sector is building exactly that.
The essential Summit on smart protein is curated and convened by The Good Food Institute India (GFI) and supported by sponsors who are central to the food, agricultural, and biotech landscape: Title Sponsors AAK, ADM, IFF, Laurus Bio & Key Sponsors Buhler, Connell, Griffith Foods, Reliance Industries Limited, Symega, Sun Nutrafood, VKL.
The Summit’s 1,800+ attendees hugely benefited from the perspectives of over 70 speakers and thought leaders across science, government, research, venture capital, development, enterprise, and industry on one common platform. The Summit focused on further growing the smart protein ecosystem for India to lead in the smart protein space race, in keeping with countries like Canada, Israel, the Netherlands, and the UK – who are centering smart protein within their economic growth stories.
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