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Growing the Future- PBFIA's 3rd Plant-Based Food Summit Focuses on Connecting for Change

The 3rd Plant-Based Foods Summit in New Delhi featured key industry leaders and fostered innovation with a Pitch Perfect Session for startups and investors.

KJ Staff
Growing the Future- PBFIA's 3rd Plant-Based Food Summit Focuses on Connecting for Change
Growing the Future- PBFIA's 3rd Plant-Based Food Summit Focuses on Connecting for Change

Presented by Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare (MoAFW), Ministry of Food Processing Industry (MoFPI), Agricultural and Processed Food Products Development Authority (APEDA), Food Safety And Standards Authority Of India (FSSAI), and Indian Chamber of Commerce, 3rd Plant-Based Foods Summit held on 21st May 2024 at Le Meridien, New Delhi. It was organised by the Plant Based Foods Industry Association (PBFIA) sponsored by U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC), Just Eat, Pall Corporation, Amazon Shipping, Plantaway Foods, Nutricircle Limited, DBS Bank, Soupherb Nutrition and JBT Corporation and supported by ITC, RSPO, AAK, Patanjali, Indian Culinary Forum, Marine Hyrocolloids, Greenbird, Vezlay, Chatha Foods, Nourish You, So Good, Planet Mushroom, Veganta. Mirtillo, Relsus, IFF and Bliss by Anju.

Proudly Supported by Ernst & Young as the Knowledge Partner, the event was graced by G. Kamala Vardhana Rao, CEO of FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) and Rajesh Agrawal, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Commerce and Industry and Dr Rjeen Singh, Director General, Indian Chamber of Commerce as the Guests of Honor accompanied by Ranjit Singh, Joint Secretary, Ministry Of Food Processing Industry (MOFPI), Gaurav Taneja, Partner and Leader Government & Public Sector, EY, Josh Tetrick, CEO, Eat Just Inc., USA, Ms.

Stephanie Joseph, Director Global Growth, Pall Corporation, France, Dr. SK Malhotra, Vice Chancellor, Maharana Pratap Horticulture University, Karnal and other veterans and innovators from the industry. The summit also opened up a golden opportunity for plant-based food innovators and startups at the Pitch Perfect Session which saw more than 15 investors and companies interacting and connecting with the avant-garde.

Sanjay Sethi, Executive Director of PBFIA requested FSSAI to ease the use of the terminology 'milk' on packaging. While noting the "this is not dairy" statement on cartons, he emphasised the necessity for uniform nomenclatures. Sethi also requested the FSSAI CEO to come and exchange ideas, resolve concerns, and foster future collaborations. He emphasised the need of startup movements and sustaining their worth in order for product originality and research to thrive in the face of huge corporations for a level playing field. He mentioned the development of infrastructure by introducing the Plant Protein Cluster across different states in India for shared excellence centres to allow collaboration between institutes, startups, and the government.

G. Kamala Vardhana Rao, CEO of FSSAI, encouraged the industry to raise public awareness. ‘He shared his initial encounter with the term "flexitarian,'' expressing his surprise at learning it describes people who primarily consume whole, plant-based proteins and minimally processed foods, while still enjoying meat, dairy, eggs, and fish in moderation. In his speech, he highlighted an ICMR report on the nutrient density of various food items, noting that the protein content of pulses is comparable to that of meat products. He complimented the industry’s effort and Mr Sanajy Sethi’s efforts to support plant-based food startups with innovation. He also appreciated the initiative to establish an infrastructure with Plant Protein Clusters.

Rajesh Agrawal, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI) emphasized soil efficiency and the carbon footprint of India. With a huge market opportunity, if the industry focuses on taste buds, a huge opportunity can establish itself. He also emphasized technology for voluntary productions, and with an investment in large-scale export, can add value-added plant products into the market.

The summit also saw the launch of PBFIA – EY Report titled ‘Plant Based Food - Shaping India’s Future Food Landscape' which aimed towards the mapping of the plant-based food industry's future. Gaurav Taneja, Partner and Leader Government & Public Sector, Ernst & Young educated about causes regarding the popularity of vegan options. He mentioned that 67% of people prefer veganism because of ethics, which opens a market for an emerging emergency. Since this industry is $0.5bn, the scope for growth is multiple times higher. With an education of consumers and the application of technology, start-ups should be on a nascent journey, not just consumers.

The networking at the 3rd Plant Based Food Summit was the lifeblood of innovation, collaboration, and progress in the sector. It was seen to bring together diverse perspectives, resources, and expertise, all working towards a common goal of creating a more sustainable, healthy, and inclusive food system. A diverse array of stakeholders, including industry leaders, entrepreneurs, researchers, policymakers, and consumers, discussed the latest trends, developments, and opportunities in the plant-based food sector, setting a new standard for collaboration and innovation in the food industry.

Among versatile sessions and discussion panels, "Busting Ultra Processing Tag with R&D" was among the pivotal sessions, featuring a lineup of esteemed experts. The audience delved into a keynote address by Inoshi Sharma, Executive Director of FSSAI, focusing on innovative R&D strategies to challenge the notion of ultra-processing in the food industry.

Josh Tetrick, CEO of Eat Just Inc., USA has mentioned that in 20 years, the summit held today won't be remembered as just a “plant-based summit “ but a “food summit” that would promote the new normal in the future. He also emphasized the creation of “plant-based eggs'' and congratulated India on being a leading leader in this emerging trend.

Ranjit Singh, Joint Secretary, MoFPI, emphasized the vast potential of the Indian plant-based foods market, urging companies to consider the entire 1.4 billion strong population as potential consumers. His address highlighted the crucial role startups play in driving innovation and breaking barriers within the industry.

The Fireside Chat with Vishwajeet Sangle was another key highlight where the upcoming Olympic star shared his life-changing experience with the adaptation of plant-based foods which were introduced to him when he faced some breathing problems at a Russia tournament and later found out that he was lactose intolerant.

The summit's diverse lineup of speakers, including industry leaders, policymakers, researchers, and entrepreneurs, showcased the breadth and depth of expertise driving the plant-based food revolution. From challenging conventional processing methods to unlocking the potential of sustainable ingredients, each session contributed to a deeper understanding of the opportunities and challenges in the plant-based food landscape.

Stephanie Joseph, Director of Global Growth, Pall Corporation, France showed her concerns about food catastrophes and food security with the need for sustainable ways of food production. She insisted that the food industry in the future should work on the upcycling and recycling of products to make sure that energy is used only when it is required.

In the next insightful panel discussion, “Soylicious: Emergence of Soy for Plant-Based Foods” the audience saw the rising prominence of soy in the plant-based food sector, showcasing its potential to revolutionise food innovation.

The closing sessions, including "Taste Odyssey: Elevating the Texture, Flavour & Mouthfeel of Plant-Based Foods" and the keynote address by Dr. Ravinder Singh from FSSAI, highlighted the importance of sensory experiences and regulatory frameworks in shaping the future of plant-based foods.

With its 5th Mega Convention being highly successful, the Plant-Based Food Industry Association stands as a beacon of innovation, collaboration, and progress in the food industry. The momentum generated during this summit will continue to propel toward a future where plant-based foods play a central role in nourishing both people and the planet.

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