Supporting the shift of Indian consumers towards plant-based living with growing awareness about health and nutrition, the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organizations (FIAPO) has launched ‘The Plant Factor’ – a food innovation challenge. To extend their backing to the tune of Rs 20 Lakh for the right plant-based alternatives for meat products. Applications are now open for this challenge for Indian plant-based start-ups, entrepreneurs, businesses, restaurants, researchers, and students.
FIAPO is India’s leading animal protection body. As a collective voice for the animal protection community in India, FIAPO unites all animal protection organizations nationwide, acting as their resource and information center to exchange ideas, build expertise, and strengthen the country’s animal rights movement. FIAPO works with over 160-member organizations, 200 supporter organizations, and over 1000 activists in more than 70 cities across India.
Speaking of this challenge, Varda Mehrotra, executive Director-FIAPO, said, “A kilogram of meat is about 30 times more demanding on the environment in terms of water, greenhouse gas emissions, than a kilogram of plant protein. There are about five and a half thousand varieties of plants and grains, vegetables and fruits that are edible, yet we concentrate on such a narrow selection.”
“India, specifically has a whole host of recipes of all that can be cooked from plants alone with no compromise on an individual’s health whatsoever. People are recognizing the need, ease of accessibility and great taste of plant-based nutrition, so much so, that in some countries even popular non-vegetarian fast-food giants like Nando’s, Burger King, McDonalds, and others are introducing the ‘Vegan Burger’- such is the demand for Plant-Based nutrition!”
The Plant Factor challenge
To participate in The Plant Factor challenge, all applicants must have or create a ready-to-market, entirely plant-based (non-animal ingredients like mushrooms are acceptable) functional food products. The product must also have a stable shelf life, a similar taste (as well as texture), and a nutritional profile similar to that of meat – as is expected of a product aiming to be a viable replacement. The winning product stands to win Rs 10 lakh, with first and second runner-ups winning Rs 7 lakh and Rs 3 lakh. The money awarded is intended as a seed grant to help scale the production or Go to Market strategies for the product(s) in question.
Applications for this challenge opened on 4 September 2020; and are expected to close on 2 October 2020. Pending review by the internal selection committee, the top 8 to 10 applications’ shortlisting is expected to conclude by 19 October 2020, culminating in the grand finale on 19 February 2021. According to FIAPO, the selected participants will receive training, mentoring, financial and networking support from India’s top food and business experts. In the final round, teams will present their products to a panel of esteemed judges, and it will then be evaluated based on taste or texture and market readiness. They will also be given access to promotions through FIAPO’s flagship programs, which embrace grassroots activism, corporate outreach, and targeted marketing and awareness campaigns.