Cultivated meat, produced by ‘farming animal cells’ rather than the tremendously inefficient process of raising and slaughtering animals, is vastly better for human and planetary health. Over the last few years, the industry has been developing at breathtaking speed around the world alongside other ‘smart protein’ categories such as plant-based meats, with investment in cultivated meat startups surpassing $1 billion in 2021.
With tremendous global momentum in the cultivated meat landscape, more startups are coming closer to pilot-scale proofs of concept, facilities are coming online, and governments are looking to create a path to market for cultivated meat products. But where does India stand within this global space race to transform the future of food?
India can, in fact, lead in the upcoming $25 billion cultivated meat sunrise industry, according to a report by GFI India and IIM A’s incubator CIIE.CO study.
Varun Deshpande, Good Food Institute, Asia Managing Director says, “ Cultivated meat is part of a suite of smart proteins which offer enormous promise to build a more resilient, nourishing food system and a thriving, 21st-century green economy. To transcend the Michelin-starred restaurants of Singapore and Los Angeles and form a pillar of that new economy in the Indian mass market, however, transformative technologies like cultivated meat need our world-class scientists, industry, and government to come together in a mission for Smart Protein. The advantages for India’s global competitiveness and self-sufficiency in building a sustainable supply of nutritious foods targeting malnutrition and creating lakhs of jobs will resonate for decades to come.”
GFI India has been at the center of the ecosystem in the country, with domestic startups Clear Meat and MyoWorks and biotech service providers Laurus Bio-inspired to form and enter the sector and a growing research community at institutes such as the Centre for Cellular & Molecular Biology forming through their work.
Vipul Patel, Partner - Seed Investing, CIIE.CO, says, “Innovation and startup action around food-tech has accelerated in the last few years. With changing awareness and customer preferences, entrepreneurs and innovators realize the need for infusing technology to create products for the future. We believe this is an opportune time to accelerate the momentum around cultivated meat and smart protein in general. Riding on the immense potential that Indian research talent possesses, we hope to discover and support many entrepreneurs in this space in the next few years.”
Dr. Manish Diwan, head of Strategy Partnership & Entrepreneurship Development under the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), an agency housed within the Government of India’s Department of Biotechnology, says, “The area of ‘smart protein’ presents an opportunity to create an exponential impact through next-generation solutions for contributing to food security, clean environment, conserving natural resources and more. This report lays out the global state of the alternative protein industry, the economic, sustainability, and public health beneﬁts of the sector, and the value Indian science, business, and investment can offer with the vision to position India as a strong bio-manufacturing hub for innovative, affordable and accessible products for domestic and global markets.”