Thursday, September 28, 2023

Butter without chicken, UnMutton keema – vegan meat hopes to become the next ‘paneer’, but health problems persist

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  • In an effort to reduce the environmental footprint of livestock farming, the fake meat category is gaining popularity in India, where 70% of the population is non-vegetarian.
  • According to the report of trading firm Nirmal Bang, the Indian meat substitute market is estimated to be around 300 crore and ₹3500 crores in 3 years.
  • Climate change fighters favor this category, but nutritionists warn against it.

butter chicken, keema pavanda burjic but without and a or chicken and mutton, vegetarian served on a plate? It may sound like an anomaly, but it’s a reality now, thanks to start-ups and even FMCG players.

In addition to companies such as GoodDots, Imagine Meats, Shaka Harry, Blue Tribe and Vegan Meri Jaan, FMCG major ITC has also launched products that offer ready-to-eat or ready-to-eat alternatives.

The latest entrant is coffee company Continental’s Greenbird. It offers chicken-like nuggets, seekh kebab, sausage and mutton-like keema.

“Given the growing awareness of holistic wellness, sustainable living and widespread consumer adoption in this area, India has the potential to become one of the largest markets for plant products,” Praveen Jaipuriar, CEO of CCL Products told India.

Fake meat brands claim to mimic the taste and texture of mutton, chicken, or fish, but are made from soybeans, jackfruit, beans, and wheat gluten.

According to Nirmal Bang’s real estate agency reportIndia’s meat substitute market is estimated at about 300 crore and is expected to reach ₹3500 crore per year in three years.

green bird

Tier II, III markets take a bigger bite

Most plant-based companies target meat eaters, flexitarians who follow a vegetarian diet but eat meat occasionally, and former non-vegetarians who have stopped using meat to protect animals.

According to the food and Agricultural OrganizationNative Americans consume soybeans, jackfruit, dairy and legumes for protein. And almost 70% of Indians are non-vegetarian.

Butter without chicken, UnMutton keema - vegan meat hopes to become the next 'paneer', but health problems persist
green bird

GoodDot, one of the oldest players in the market, had run a nationwide mass media campaign earlier this year with Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra promoting plant-based meats over real meat. founder Abhishek Sinha says they are seeing good demand for their Unmutton Keema Kit, UnMutton Dhaba curry and biryani packs both in smaller towns and metros.

“We believe that just as paneer became a staple of restaurant and hotel menus 25-30 years ago, plant-based meats will be an integral part of restaurant menus for the next 3-4 years,” Sinha told India. †

What’s on the sticker?

Price is one of the biggest challenges in the fake meat market, like most of the others in the ready-to-eat category. In some cases they are more expensive than meat.

ITC’s 550 gram chicken burger patty costs 260, while the 330 gram vegetable burger costs ₹630.

Brand Vegetable product Quantity (grams) Price (₹)
Blue Tribe Chicken nuggets 250 295
ITC Chicken nuggets 250 475
Shakka Harry Chicken nuggets 250 249
Imagine meat Chicken nuggets 500 575
Good Point Chicken pieces 400 299
green bird Chicken nuggets 260 295

Although homegrown brands have managed to cut the price, their plant-based products are still 10 times more expensive than meat.

So, to make another dent in the Indian meat industry, fake meat brands will have to narrow the price gap.

“Comparing the price of plant-based meat to traditional meat and vegetarian options, it is slightly more expensive and there are not many manufacturers in India. But despite being a new category and a niche segment, it has huge potential,” said Jaipuriar.

GoodDot has been able to get a head start here. “The price range of our products is between 95 and ₹379. In terms of cost per kg, some of our products are cheaper than meat, while others are comparable to meat,” Sinha says.

However, with a new tax on labeled meats, it could help narrow the gap between the two food categories. “Meat is an expensive product and is not often bought by many consumers. With the rising cost of feed and taxing meat with GST, meat would become even more expensive. Plant-based meat products have been charged 18% GST since inception, so their prices already factor in GST costs,” Sinha said.

Processed meat is like food 4 bhaturas

It’s always a good idea to move to a more humane approach, but is fake meat a healthier option? Jaipuriar claims that plant-based meats are more nutritious as they contain no saturated fat and are high in fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

Nutritionists think otherwise.

“There is nothing healthy about plant-based meat. The maximum it can offer you is a look-a-like, taste indulgence but minimal nutrition. It’s hyper-processed, meaning food ceases, so it becomes very toxic. To save a life, you’re just risking your life because you’re using toxic chemicals and it’s not recommended,” Amit Srivastava, founder of community nutraceutical platform Nutrify Today, told India.

To improve their nutritional profile, brands will need to increase their budget and add more amino acids, vitamins, minerals or medium-chain triglycerides. When they do, their costs will shoot through the roof, and brands are already under pressure to lower prices.

According to Srivastava, the technology has not succeeded from a nutritional point of view. Some of them can even contain extra sodium, saturated fats, preservatives, refined oils, modified cornstarch and added sugar.

To turn a vegetable source into something that mimics the taste of meat, it would have to add a lot of fat. Since most exist as fine powders, they are assimilated in no time and provide an immediate release of amino acids into the bloodstream. All in all, this ‘immediate’ release could make people gain weight.

According to Srivastava, those who consume plant-based meats for more than three months will gain weight.

“With real meat, it’s the exact opposite effect. You tend to lose weight because the body has to burn a lot of energy to digest meat and protein-based fake meat is stored in the fat cells. if you eat four bhaturas, your body will have a very hard time taking in that much oil in the future. It has the same impact with processed meat,” says Srivastava.

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