Aahar Delhi — Spotlight on plant-based foods

India Plant-Based Foods Show 2024 conference marked inauguration of Aahar

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Aahar
PBFIA launching its 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.

The India Plant-Based Foods Show 2024, hosted by the Plant Based Food Industry Association (PBFIA), concluded successfully at Bharat Mandapam, Pragati Maidan, New Delhi on the inaugural day of the AAHAR exhibition, 7th March. The event brought together renowned speakers and delegates from various sectors to discuss innovations, challenges, and solutions for plant-based food products.

A major highlight of the event was the startup pitch session, where companies such as BTech Pani Puri Wale, Bliss by Anju, and many more presented their ideas to a panel of industry experts and investors. This session provided a platform for emerging businesses to showcase their creativity and vision for the future of plant-based foods.

The audience at the conference had the opportunity to explore a wide range of plant-based products in the tasting area of the hall. National and international startups, including Thryve, Baggry’s, Nourish You, Vegan First, and many more received on-the-spot feedback on their products. Attendees were treated to dairy-free cheese, ice creams, and creative meat substitutes, which were well-received and appreciated.

In partnership with EY, PBFIA also launched its 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.

Inoshi Sharma, executive director, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) 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 is a matter of contention and needs to be addressed.”

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The tasting hall pavilion at the conference at Aahar
Photo- PSA

The panel discussion with the investors and venture capitalists threw some light on the investment opportunities and the current business scenario around plant-based food products.

Karan Mehta, principal, of Green Frontier Capital, said “India will be a key player in the plant-based foods industry,” he thinks so because according to him indigenous grains and millets are widely available in India right now and seem like large opportunities for plant-based foods.

Sandeep Devgan, CEO, of Stonefield Flavours, co-founder and investor, Shaka Harry, through the panel discussion, encouraged the investors to invest now for more profit rather than getting late, because he believes it to have taken stronger root everywhere. “It’s not a quick 0-100 game, it needs time.”

One of the panel discussions, moderated by Sanjay Sethi, executive director, of PBFIA, focused on the establishment of Plant Protein Clusters across India. This initiative, headed by PBFIA, aims to set up the first plant protein cluster at Bhiwadi near Manesar.

The goal is to leverage India’s abundant agricultural resources and establish the nation as the world’s ‘Global Ingredient Hub’. The discussion highlighted the potential of such clusters in driving innovation and growth in the plant-based food industry.

Where Sanjay Sethi laid down the challenges to overcome in the industry, Aditya Bagri, director of Baggry pointed out allergies, health, nutrition, and lifestyle to be the reasons to move towards plant-based foods and Sudhansu, secretary of APEDA discussed the solutions on how the plant-based foods industry can be widely accepted.

Sudhansu said, “While we need to educate the farmers and consumers about plant-based food, eco-friendly and cost-effective solutions need to be implemented for good agriculture practice. He as well highlighted the importance of a proper chain of food production, value addition, and marketing to be ensured. Bagri highlighted the need to shift from the animal and diary-based diet to plant-based options which are rich in protein and helps to have a healthy lifestyle and longevity, a move necessary for sustainability.

The conference also addressed ways to enhance customer experience through various B2B, B2C, and D2C modes. The session emphasized the importance of grooming a talent pool for the plant-based food industry.

A panel discussion led by Chef K. Thiru delved into the need for skilled professionals who can drive innovation and meet the growing demand for plant-based alternatives. Innovative solutions for replacing conventional dairy and animal products with plant-based alternatives were also discussed. The panel members shared insights into the latest developments in the industry and highlighted the importance of continuous innovation to meet evolving consumer preferences.

With the motto of “Let food be the medicine, and medicine be the food”, the discussions in this conference around the topic of plant-based foods will further be strengthened and continued at the third Plant-Based Foods Summit scheduled on 21 May, at Hotel Le Meridian, New Delhi

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