“Smart (alternative) proteins are so vital and crucial to our country,” said Suresh Narayanan, Chairman and Managing Director, Nestlé India, at The Good Food Institute’s Smart Protein Summit that commenced today.
During the keynote address, Narayanan expressed concern at the issue of protein imbalance in majority of Indians. He pointed out the irony that despite being the world’s largest pulses producer and second largest producer of fruits and vegetables, India has been unable to solve the problem of protein deficiency.
According to him, with poverty and malnutrition widespread in the country, alternative protein is “one of the best ways to feed the population”.
He suggested that we must “take emotive out of the way” by not just focusing on global warming and the planet, but also on the necessity to feed the planet, which is imperative and needs to be done on an urgent basis.
Making alt-protein popular and accessible
Narayanan was of the view that merely replicating the plant based and fermented protein options available in the west will not help increase the uptake, and companies must look at customizing these products to suit the Indian palate; these must “fit into Indian cuisines as food is a very local thing.”
He also talked about ways to make alternative protein popular amongst masses, and increase its accessibility. What is required is a close cooperation among research establishments, private industry and the government; focus on technological advancement in plant-based, fermented and cell cultured protein; and figuring out ways to reduce costs.
Giving his suggestions, Narayanan said, “Being world’s largest pulses producer, we should look at creating an ecosystem of protein clusters in the country so that food processing companies can set up their bases there.”
Currently, Nestle runs 12 R&D accelerators focused on the development of plant-based protein technology globally, of which one is located in Manesar, Haryana. “Plant-based protein is a serious mission for Nestle India,” Narayanan said.