The flourishing demand due to the rising awareness about the benefits of plant-based proteins and the rising focus on the drawbacks of animal proteins have been accelerating the growth of the plant-based protein market in the nation.
Other major factors are the growing health and wellness trends, increasing consumer focus on meat alternatives, and the growing demand from the food and beverage industry. The stable economic condition and changing lifestyle of the population in India have placed the nutrition and health segments at the forefront, which has further supported the growth of the plant-based protein market in India. The growing issues related to the environment and animal farming have also led to the rising demand for sustainable protein sources such as plant-based protein.
According to a report by MARKETSandMARKETS, ”The plant-based protein market size is projected to grow from $12.2 billion in 2022 to $17.4 billion by 2027, at a CAGR of 7.3 percent between 2022 and 2027.”
There are a lot of brands in India that claim to be the best in their segment and offer exceptional nutritional properties with their product. But when it comes to actually deliver the said measures they don’t even make it to the industry standard checklists which makes the consumer skeptical. In order to put an end to this, Fast&Up was introduced in 2015 by Varun Khanna and Vijay Raghavan Venugopal. It is a flagship sports nutrition brand of Aeronutrix Sports Products Private Limited.
Fast&Up came up with a promise to provide quality nutrition to the early adopters of an active Life - Athletes. Since then, the brand stood up to its consumers and still managing to serve them the best in class nutrition and lifestyle-related solutions.
Backed by innovative Swiss technology, the brand caters to performance in sport, intelligent nutrition, and dietary supplementation for an active lifestyle. It is trusted by athletes and fitness enthusiasts across the nation to boost their performance and health.
Varun Khanna, Co-founder, Fast&Up, said, “I remember running a ten kilometers marathon eight years back. That was the only run I ever ran, and when I ran it, at the end of the marathon I remember using a product from Europe, putting it into a glass of water, and drinking it. Everyone around me was excited about it, so I was like why is this not available here? And from there, I sort of had the idea and we started off with electrolytes as a first product and eventually, we went off to other products. For the first three years, we had just three products.”
“Today, even TATA is foraying into the plant-based protein industry. I am so happy that I am a vegan and one of my missions is we use our platform to reduce whey usage. Apart from this, I feel that the priorities of the people have changed in such a good way. People are more conscious about their well-being. I think that’s so good, these sorts of things spread awareness. I find the change to be amazing,” he added.
The brand is currently catering to its customers through an omnichannel strategy including online and retail stores.
On the retail front, Khanna shared, ”So the retail strategy for us is I think the world of retail is significantly changing post-Covid. I think pre-Covid and post-Covid retail is different. Pre-Covid, it was all about servicing demand, and post-Covid it has also become a discovery platform. People are spending time in supermarkets, people are going out, and they are finding new ideas in supermarkets. So, I think in our case, the retail strategy is very clear that we believe in retail, and we are currently available in 4,500 outlets and we plan to expand these to 20,000 outlets within the next two years.”
“Omnichannel actually is a fancy word. Just thinking about the fact that any time a customer walks in, you should be available. Think about what he wants that very moment. He wants it delivered in 10 minutes, should be available on quick commerce, if he wants it till evening, it should be available till evening. So, one is delivering, and the other is information. Omnichannel for us is all about making it easy for the customer rather than anything else and making sure that the customer is making the right decisions,” he further added.
Technology has been a business game-changer at every level — revolutionizing customer experience, enabling groundbreaking innovations, and accelerating business growth.
“We are a digital-first brand and cater to direct-to-consumer demands from our website. We are currently trying to see whether we can identify mediums where we can connect the online universe with the offline universe. You can see Amazon opening its stores and that is how we see the future happening. We are trying to create a model where consumers can make a decision online and get the service offline or vice versa. And we are also trying to integrate our products in the most convenient manner for our customers, based on their requirements. So, for others we need to be available and make sure that they are getting us in the right place at the right time,” Khanna mentioned.
Social Media Fueling Growth
The brand does believe in paid campaigns but truly focuses on organic marketing. Fast&Up works with people who believe in its products.
“Social media is indeed a very big area for us. We are currently a total universe of more than half a million followers between Instagram and Facebook. We also have celebrities like Varun Dhawan and Shilpa Shetty associated with our brand. I think social media is one of the biggest phenomena and we have to accept the fact that now it’s the area where consumers are making their decisions. We are now 5 million users and more than 50 lakh users in India. And what we believe is that quality standards could not be ignored, so, we have a single quality standard. Whatever we sell in the US, whatever we sell in UK, we sell the same in India. And working with quality needed supply, rather than working with cheap working products,” Khanna asserted.
Fast&Up does not have any plans to raise the funds at the moment to fuel the business growth further. The brand has consistently been growing by more than 60-65 percent CAGR.
“The last round we closed was at 20 million. Since then, we have also had investments from celebrities like Shilpa Shetty and of course, this year, we have lost one of our early investors - Rakesh Jhunjhunwala. So, we have consistently raised funds from great people who have trusted and believed in the category. And, in the future, if funding is obtained, we would follow the same category."
Apart from this, “Soon, we will also be entering the parts of Goa, Surat, Indore, Ludhiana, and Chandigarh. We have deepened the distribution chain. We have recently entered Italy and Switzerland. And we will be further expanding our presence in UK and Europe through the distributors of Europe.”