The proposed Plant Protein Cluster will provide methods for development of a localised supply chain which is a necessity for the plant-based foods industry
In a country deficient in proteins (73 per cent of Indians lack it in sufficient quantities) mainly because a sizeable population (40 per cent) follows vegetarianism, it is pertinent to have a focused approach towards deriving maximum benefit from plant-based sources.
In response to this demand, the Plant-Based Foods Industry Association (PBFIA) in association with the Nagpur Dall Millers Cluster, recently announced the formation of India’s first Plant Protein Cluster in Nagpur. The announcement was made at “Plant Based Foods Export Workshop”, organised in Nagpur, on July 4.
Sanjay Sethi, Executive Director of PBFIA, said the proposed cluster will provide methods for development of a localised supply chain which is a necessity for the plant-based foods industry.
International protein market
Sethi said India has a huge potential to tap the international protein market as several global food chains source plant-based proteins from Asia. He cited the example of US-based food outlet chain Eat Just Inc., which sourced its main raw material — mung beans — from Myanmar but did not approach India.
“It is important to understand why the multinational company did not come to India, which is the leading producer of mung in the world. Possibly because our farmers put in excess of fertiliser or there could be other reasons that we need to find out,” he observed.
As per a 2017 survey, 73 per cent of Indians are deficient in protein while above 90 per cent are unaware of the daily requirement of protein.
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The country’s First Plant Protein Cluster aims to make India a reliable supplier of plant proteins to not just Indians but to the world. The enthusiasm stems from the estimates that plant-based foods market is expected to climb from Rs 2,000 crore in 2022 to Rs 40,000 crore by 2032.
Nagpur has been chosen as the centre because of its strategic location. Raw material is available nearby and the city provides adequate manpower and land. Additionally, Nagpur is well connected to nearby pulses hubs like Telangana (Adilabad), Madhya Pradesh (Chhindwara, Jabalpur), and Chhattisgarh (Rajnandgaon).
Cereals, mung beans, chickpeas and millets are considered good sources of plant protein and a viable alternative to animal proteins. The Plant Protein Cluster aims to offer a wide range of opportunities for value-addition.
The Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), country’s apex export trade promotion body, too supported the organisation of the workshop, which shows the government’s intent to promote export of plant-based proteins.
VK Vidyarthi, General Manager, APEDA, said: “Plant-based foods could help enhance the export potential and in line with that, we are working to create export standards for vegan products to address the huge overseas opportunity, following the principle of Ahimsa Parmo Dharma, increasing farmers income and addressing climate change.”