ITC Limited – one of the biggest conglomerates in India – is to officially enter the plant-based meat space. The significant move from the FMCG and agri-business giant represents the first from a company of its scale in the emerging Indian plant-based market.
“Smart protein and plant-based meats are a generational opportunity”
Looking to supply sustainable protein across the subcontinent, the entry of ITC – whose annual turnover was $10.74 billion in 2020 – is likely to also impact the export market. ITC will first launch plant-based burger patties and chicken nuggets through retail, e-commerce, and food service establishments in the country’s top 8 cities.
Hemant Malik, Divisional Chief Executive of Foods at ITC Ltd explained that; “There is no large pan-Indian brand in the plant-based protein segment in India”, referring to the challenges of the market in a country with a population of over 1.3 billion people. He went on to estimate the market at $45 billion and state that ITC aims to; “enjoy the early mover advantage in India.”
Indian plant-based market
The considerable move has been advised by nonprofit Good Food Institute India (GFI India) whose expert research has opened the eyes of ITC to the nascent plant-based meat landscape in India. Research by GFI India indicates that 63% of non-vegetarians among urban populations would be extremely likely to purchase plant-based meats on a regular basis. Other companies like Ireland’s Kerry Group and Japan’s Next Meats are also making moves in the space, while homegrown brands like Imagine Meats and Blue Tribe Foods continue to grow.
“Smart protein and plant-based meats are a generational opportunity to align planetary health stewardship, public health resilience, and economic growth. While entrepreneurs are blazing a trail in building the category, mega-corporations with their distribution heft, deep R&D capabilities, and intimate involvement in consumers’ lives can take a nascent phenomenon to the next level,” stated Varun Deshpande, Managing Director at GFI India.