As awareness and demand for plant-based meat alternatives picks up, the Agricultural Produce Exports Development Authority (APEDA) has set up a committee to form regulations and standards for the manufacturing of vegan products to tap the export market.
VK Vidyarthi, General Manager, APEDA, said a committee comprising of scientists, exporters, and experts, among others, has been set up, which is likely to submit its report by the end of the year.
“We have to ensure the supply of good quality vegan products in the international market. It has been seen that many countries still have not been able to distinguish between what ingredients are permitted and what not. In this regard, APEDA has formed a committee of scientists, exporters to form regulations and standards for vegan products. We have to align these standards with the importing countries’ requirements,” Vidyarthi added.
APEDA, which has conducted several meetings in this regard, will shortly hold meetings with European countries, Canada and the US to come up with a procedure for drafting the standards, he said. Further, to strengthen the agri-supply chain for vegan products, there’s a need to introduce good manufacturing, hygiene, and agricultural practices, along with the deployment of technologies such as barcoding and traceability, among others, Vidyarthi said.
Uptick in demand
Post-Covid, the demand for plant-based meat alternatives has picked up in the overseas markets as consumers have turned health conscious. “There is a big demand in the international market for vegan and plant-based meat protein products in the United States, Europe, Japan, Korea, and Australia, among other countries. India has great potential for vegan or plant-based protein products as we have good availability of raw materials in the country, which are used as enzymes, additives and colours for vegan products,” Vidyarthi said. The exports of such vegan products are in very small quantities but they have the potential to make it big.
Varun Deshpande, Managing Director, The Good Food Institute, said the harmonisation of regulations for vegan and plant-based products for export is necessary to make the sector competitive in the international market. “We think it is a fantastic development and we are working together with the committee in developing the standards,” he said.
In India, the market for the plant-based protein alternatives segment is in its nascent stages, although awareness is catching up. While companies such as GoodDot, Blue Tribe, and Shaka Harry have been selling the plant-based meat alternatives, the segment has of late attracted the interest of large players such as Tata Consumer Goods and ITC among others.
Vidyarthi added that APEDA will soon take up the promotion of vegan products by showcasing them overseas through international exhibitions, road shows, and food festivals, besides organising buyer-seller meets in the country.