India is projected to be one of the largest growth areas for consumption in chicken, beef, and mutton. And while vegetarianism is often believed to be widespread in India, influenced by religion and other factors, the data seems to suggest otherwise.
According to the sample registration system (SRS) baseline survey 2014 released by the registrar general of India, 71 percent of Indians over the age of 15 are non-vegetarian. While that means 330 million of India’s 1.2 billion people are vegetarian, it obscures the fact that many are rapidly abandoning their vegetarian diet due to an increased desire for meat.
Higher meat consumption in India is not entirely surprising, as meat-heavy diets are often correlated with an increase in wealth. As the emerging market countries like India gain a larger share of the economic pie, the trend is likely to continue.
This is important for many reasons, as the world is already grappling with climate change and water scarcity. It takes over 8,000 liters of water to produce 1 kg of mutton and 4000 liters for 1 kg of chicken, which is significantly larger than that of plant-based protein. Chicken production also releases 25 times more CO2 than grain production per calorie.
While this all sounds quite sobering, it does afford opportunity for companies that provide the experience of eating meat, without the sustainability challenges.
Surprisingly, there’s very little competition in the meat-alternative space in India, given the apparent market opportunity. Up until now, most of the product innovation has been occuring in the US and Europe. The food system is also quite fragmented in India. Unlike America, where it seems like Walmarts are everywhere, India is comprised of a vast network of small stores, making distribution more of a challenge.
One company does seem to be on the right track, and that is Good Dot. Based in India, Good Dot was founded by Abhishek Sinha (CEO of India), Stephanie Downs (CEO), and Deepak Parihar (CFO). They are leveraging their understanding of India’s complex distribution network to get their alt-meat products to consumers. Currently, their distribution includes 12 million members, 1.2 million distributors, and 7500 pick-up centers.