Influential couple’s entrepreneurial venture could be the starting point of a new Indian industry in sustainable eating, joining a global wave.
In what is the first major Indian development in a rapidly growing global movement, influential actors and social icons Genelia & Riteish Deshmukh have announced their new plant-based meat venture, Imagine Meats.
Plant-based meats are a next generation food innovation which are made entirely from plant ingredients such as pea protein and coconut oil, but which perfectly replicate the taste, smell, and sizzle of animal meat. They go far beyond the traditional soya nuggets or mock meats, and therefore offer non-vegetarians a simple switch which is far better for the environment in terms of land, water, and energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, and for public health because it does not increase the risk of zoonotic diseases such as swine flu and avian flu. This is particularly important in countries like India, where meat consumption is expected to rise radically over the next decades with rising incomes.
Globally, the sector is growing extremely rapidly, with several companies scaling to billions of dollars in size and even being listed on stock exchanges. Data from the Good Food Institute, the leading nonprofit advancing the sector, shows 2019 was a watershed moment with hundreds of millions of dollars in global investment and retail sales in the sector, and increasing advancement into Asian markets. Imagine Meats can lay the groundwork of similar success in India.
With guidance and assistance from the Good Food Institute India, Imagine Meats is bringing together the best of global food science with Indian traditions and culinary excellence. Out of their desire to make a huge impact on the planet and leave a better world for their children, Genelia & Riteish attended the nonprofit’s Good Food Conference in San Francisco in September and visited the headquarters of some of the pioneering players in the sector. They forged a partnership with leading global ingredients manufacturer Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), which allowed them to access expertise in food science, flavours, and product development across Singapore, Berlin, and the United States. These experts worked closely with the Deshmukhs even throughout the Covid-19 pandemic to craft the most authentic delicacies to cater to Indian palates – think juicy kebabs, biryanis, and curries.
The company will launch their products through various channels in coming months, and consumers can expect to see more on the different dishes, meats, and partnerships throughout the rest of the year.
Genelia Deshmukh, founder of Imagine Meats, said, “As a mother, and as a citizen of India and the world, I have always been focused on the kind of planet we are leaving behind for our children. Seeing firsthand the innovation underway in the global food industry, Riteish and I were encouraged to take this big step and bring to you delicious foods which are so much better for the planet. We want Imagine Meats to be the choice for anybody seeking the taste of meat, without the guilt of environmental and public health impacts – just as it will be for our own family. It is our mission to make the world kinder and safer for our children, and this is a great start.”
Riteish Deshmukh, founder of Imagine Meats, said, “I have been a hardcore meat eater who turned vegetarian 4 years ago. Let me be honest – there have been times when I have craved the taste and indulgence of meat. With plant based meats around, I am a much happier vegetarian now. I would rather just imagine meat!”
Varun Deshpande, Managing Director at the Good Food Institute India, said, “Plant-based meats have immense potential to help us safeguard planetary health, without sacrificing our tastes. India is taking its first steps, in a sector which is soaring globally and demonstrating a model to save the planet. With our agricultural biodiversity and the opportunity to benefit our farmers and talented workforce, India can be a lynchpin of growth for the global sector. Covid-19 has underscored that we can no longer take our planet for granted. We’re thrilled to support entrepreneurs like Genelia & Riteish along with our partners like ADM, and are looking forward to building a more healthy, sustainable, and just food system together.”
Sanjay Laud, Managing Director at ADM Nutrition (India), said, “ADM Nutrition India is excited to be on board with this major initiative. These smart protein products are the ideal way to cater to today’s conscious consumers, who are increasingly looking to balance the idea of craving meat with eating a planet-friendly diet. ADM’s extensive expertise and complete range of plant protein solutions from raw materials to expertly crafted ingredients means we are uniquely placed to address this evolving landscape. We are proud to be a partner in the launch of Imagine Meats, and in building the sector in the country along with the Good Food Institute India.”