Abhishek Sinha, Co-founder and CEO, GoodDot, said during an online session that there is a “pressing need” for the plant-based movement to succeed “because animals are banking on this transition and we can’t fail them”.
Sinha was one of the speakers at the session titled ‘Blazing a Trail: Plant-based startups at the frontier of innovation’, held during the ongoing three-day Smart Protein Summit organized by The Good Food Institute (GFI), India.
Giving his views on the risks faced by the emerging plant-based foods industry, he said, “When you are trying to blaze a trail, you are driven by some larger value. When you win, you gain confidence and satisfaction, but even when you lose, you gain experience.”
“Whether we (GoodDot) do it or someone else does it, there is a pressing need for it (growth of plant-based industry) to be done. It is bigger than all of us because animals are banking on this transition and we can’t fail them. It doesn’t matter whether we are giving our best or not, but we wish the category the best because we all deserve it and the animals deserve it.”
Other panelists in the session included, Rohan Mirchandani, Co-Founder, Epigamia; Akanksha Ghai, Co-Founder, BVeg Foods; Priyanka Srinivas, Founder & CEO, The Live Green Co.; and Abhay Rangan, Founder, Goodmylk. The session was moderated by Shardul Dabir, Innovation Specialist, GFI India.
Risks on the untrodden path
Talking about what could jeopardize the growth of the plant-based industry, Rangan said: “the risk of not executing fast enough and taking too long to go to market”. He also cautioned against following industry trends blindly and not getting attracted by what’s “shiny”.
Mirchandani, who is at the helm of dairy major Epigamia, spoke about how a shift in consumer habits is responsible for the success or failure of a company. He said that “the way consumers consume products is going to shift rapidly, especially in this extremely fast-moving ecosystem”. He also talked about the distribution aspect and said “it is ever-evolving and we don’t know where will it go over the coming years”.
According to Srinivas, what the plant-based industry needs is quicker policy changes. “Going against a trillion-dollar industry, you need capital and finance. We need subsidies and economies of scale, and only then, we will be able to achieve price parity. It is not possible without support.”
She also said that systemic changes must be done by way of education, if we need people to move to sustainable foods. “Education has to happen at policy level”.
Ghai, whose company BVeg recently launched plant-based hotdogs at 24Seven stores in several cities, said that innovation is the key to keep up with the constantly changing food choices of customers. “The plant-based industry is untapped – be it domestic or international – and as an ecosystem builder, we are eyeing both markets. What is important is to break the shackles and innovate.”
“We are planning to work with varied protein sources, not just soy or pea; native Indian proteins such as millets are something we will be working with,” she added.