Plant-based food alternates need HoReCa to go mass, say makers at India Food Forum 2022

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Hotels, Restaurants and Catering (HoReCa) serving dishes made of plant alternates will not only help grow the category but also benefit consumers

Mumbai: Plant-based food alternates to milk and meat have a huge potential to become public from niche, makers of such products— Shaka Harry, Evoled Foods, Vezlay and Blue Tribe Foods—said at the India Food Forum 2022 at Westin Mumbai Powai Lake. However, the food innovators believe that the category needs the HoReCa (Hotel Restaurants and Catering) platform to help achieve exponential potential and to take plant alternates to the common man.

“The visibility that comes in from HoReCa is unbeatable,” Anand Nagarajan, co-founder, Shaka Harry. He was speaking at a panel discussion on ‘Plant Based Sustainable Foods –Differentiate your Food Service and Retail Business’ on Day 2 of the India Food Forum 2022. The session was powered by Griffith Foods, a global product development partner specializing in food ingredients from seasoning and sauces to breadings, coatings, flavors, bakery products, and more.

The global plant-based food market is expected to grow at an annual rate of 12.2% between 2022 and 2032 reaching $34.5 billion from $11.3 billion in 2022.

Currently, in India, plant-based food alternates are being retailed mostly via D2C channels and through a few cloud kitchens. The panelists representing the makers of alternate foods feel that if QSR chains and cloud kitchens make dishes based on plant-based alternatives a part of their menu, it will not only help grow the category but also help consumers who are unable or unwilling to consume meat or dairy products.

Dr. Sudhir Tamne, vice president for quality, technical and innovation at Burger King, who was also part of the panel as a representative of the HoReCa segment said that Burger King was toying with the idea of introducing plant-based dishes. However, the high cost prevents restaurant chains from incorporating such foods, which ultimately affects the end price.

“What we need is what we can sell with not just with regards to taste but also with regards to price. At our end, we have the platform, but we need to be able to get the unit economics right,” he said.

Umesh Joshi, Director, Supply Chain, Hardcastle Restaurants, McDonald’s franchisee for south and western India, said that McDonald’s is willing to explore partnerships with makers of plant-based food alternatives.

Sohil Wazir, Chief Commercial Officer, Blue Tribe Foods said that HoReCa is a new discovery platform for foods. “We have a few products that are only for HoReCa. And it is true that there is a premium associated with plant-based food, which increases the final prices of food items made with them such as a pizza, for instance.”

Sanjay Sethi, ED, Plant Based Food Association, who was also the moderator of the session, said that the category has a lot of potential it needs both sides –the makers and HoReCa players to work together and arrive at a win-win.

Other panelists at the session included, Pradeep Rao, Co-Founder and CEO, Evolved Foods; Chef Nitin Puri, Griffith Foods; Preetam Patnaik, Head-Marketing, Continental Coffee Ltd. (Brand Continental Greenbird) and Prerna Bajaj, Director, Vezlay.

The panel was part of the Day 2 of the 15th edition of India Food Forum 2022, the mega congregation of India’s emeriti of the Food Retail establishment at The Westin Mumbai, Powai Lake on December 7-8.

Started in 2008, the annual India Food Forum is the platform du jour for those looking to get a ring-side view of India’s food retail industry and those wanting to ride the action on the Emerging Innovations and Trends and Developments in the Business of Food in India.

While the first day of the conference focused on Food & Grocery, the second day focused on food service and is being chaired by Anurag Katriar, Founder Indigo Hospitality; Trustee NRAI.

Powered by Smart Bazaar and MessageBird, India Food Forum 2022 is set to host 150+ speakers, 100+ exhibitors, top hats belonging to the C-Suite of 400+ brands and organisations in the food business.

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