ANUFOOD India 2023

Unlocking the future of nutrition with alternative proteins

Photo - ADM

Author - Sanjay Laud

India’s plant-based protein market has experienced tremendous growth in the last few years. In 2022, the market stood at about USD 689.7 million and in the next five years, this figure is estimated to grow at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.3%, reaching USD 995.08 million by 2028[1]. This growth is largely driven by rising health concerns amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the growth in veganism propelling demand for alternative protein products[1,2].

Surprisingly, India produces approximately 25% of the world’s pulses – a source high in protein and other important nutrients like fiber and potassium – yet over 70% of Indians have protein deficiency [3]. This is an astounding figure because apart from pulses, India produces protein-containing crops such as soybeans, legumes, seeds, nuts, and more. Furthermore, India farms conventional protein choices like fish and poultry for non-vegetarians and produces pulses and Soya Chaap, a meat alternative made with soya beans, for vegetarians.

One of the main reasons for India’s high protein deficiency could be the lack of awareness of the importance of protein and the misinformation surrounding its consumption. In recent years, the COVID-19 pandemic has placed a spotlight on the importance of a balanced high-protein, and ‘clean’ diet to support immune health, and more consumers are making a conscious effort to consume foods that are healthier and more nutritious. Plant protein sources, like soy, pulses, and nuts, may provide cholesterol‐lowering benefits and may be viewed as healthier by consumers. As of last year, India has the highest number of vegans in the world[4] following a meat-free diet, and this trend further propels plant-based protein products into the forefront.

As food developers race to capitalize on this growing trend, a crucial component in the development phase is to provide authentic ingredients that cater to local palates. Bollywood stars Genelia and Riteish Deshmukh from Imagine Meats exemplify this well by incorporating smart protein products that blend food science with local traditions and culinary excellence. To achieve the right mouthfeel, aroma, fibrosity, bite, and aftertaste, we worked closely with them to create delicious, authentic foods that provide high-value protein ingredients in the form of local meals like biryani, mince, and kebabs. Rather than supplying single ingredients for blending, ADM provided bespoke, flexitarian systems using soy and pea proteins, as well as other plant-based alternative solutions.

In the last few months, India has witnessed explosive growth with over 400 new product launches in the plant-based protein industry. Today, the industry has introduced more choices than ever, with some homegrown start-ups experimenting with millet and jackfruit in their products. ADM has also forayed into the nutritional beverage and fortified gravy space with the use of yellow peas and is experimenting with wheat in its existing ingredient solutions.

Plant-based proteins have gained strong acceptance among local Indian consumers, but we are also seeing a rising appeal for alternative proteins in Asia. ADM’s 2023 Global Consumer Trends underscores expanded protein choices as one of the market growth drivers, with 52% of global consumers considering themselves flexitarians, incorporating both animal-based and plant-based or other alternative proteins into their diet[5]. Expanded protein choices include cultured meat, dairy, and seafood alternatives, the use of hybrid proteins, insect-based protein, and even protein created from elements of the air. In Singapore, we partnered with Temasek’s Nurasa to launch ScaleUp Bio to provide technological development and precision fermentation to existing and aspiring food-tech companies. This is a first-of-its-kind joint venture that demonstrates ADM’s unique leadership position in delivering the next horizon of innovative, sustainable food production to meet consumers’ ever-evolving preferences.

Rising plant-based and alternative protein investments are driving innovation at a rapid pace, creating next-generation products that are better tasting and elevating sensory experiences through taste, texture, mouthfeel, and appearance. More than 70% of Indian consumers feel that it is important for the taste, texture, and appearance of meat substitutes to be the same as real meat [6]. Product innovation has also resulted in a diverse range of consumption formats like protein powders, snacks, and frozen meals, making it much more convenient for busy consumers to incorporate plant-based ingredients into their daily diets.

Advancements in food science and technology have also broadened the possibilities of alternative protein. Millennials and Gen Zs grew up surrounded by technology, so these digital natives will be more open to culinary exploration while also aligning with their nutritional and environmental needs. This younger consumer segment is seeking out plant-based and alternative options to address the issues of sustainability, resiliency, and ethicality of global food systems. They will also be the key driving forces for the future of food in the coming decades.

While they are more open to alternative proteins, developers need to provide the reassurance that what consumers getting contains authentic ingredients which they trust. Consumers want to know which ingredients are used, where their food comes from, who made it, and how it impacts the environment. Therefore, developers who use real and familiar ingredients in their alternative protein products tend to stand out in the marketplace.

Importantly, scaling alternative proteins will play an essential role in improving availability and accessibility to consumers. Food-production technologies present an opportunity to accelerate the volume of products and eventually achieve price parity between alternative proteins and conventional meat to reduce costs for consumers. This is vital for mainstream adoption.

The future we envision is to see key stakeholders coming together to create long-term value in the alternative protein industry. Every stakeholder plays a crucial role – the government can encourage early-stage research and development, provide funding grants and policy advocacy; the private sector can provide the right infrastructure and manufacturing capabilities and support product development through to commercialization. By accelerating the availability of sustainable protein alternatives, not only can we fill the protein gap in India but help to create a resilient and sustainable global food system.


[1] India plant based protein market report and forecast 2023-2028 (no date) India Plant Based Protein Market Growth, Size, Share 2023-2028. Available at:,USD%20995.08%20million%20by%202028. (Accessed: February 13, 2023).

[2] How is vegan food disrupting the Indian market? (2023) Times of India Blog. Available at: (Accessed: February 14, 2023).

[3] Suri, S. (2020) India's protein deficiency and the need to address the problem, ORF. Available at:,suffer%20from%20poor%20muscle%20health. (Accessed: February 13, 2023).

[4] Peters, R. (2022) Veganism Statistics India in 2022 - how many vegans are there in India?, Truly Experiences Blog. Available at:,include%20food%20stalls%20or%20marketplaces (Accessed: February 13, 2023).

[5] ADM Outside Voice℠

[6] FMCG Gurus Plant-Based Protein Survey 2022

Click HERE to subscribe to our FREE Weekly Newsletter