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Imagine Meats, a food venture by Bollywood couple Genelia and Riteish Deshmukh, is working on expanding its range of plant-based meats suited for Indian taste buds and expand its presence in 25-30 Indian cities by the end of the fiscal. Speaking to PTI, Genelia said while the concept of plant-based meats has been around in the Western countries, it is yet to become mainstream in India.
"India is not so much of a burger eating nation…we love our keemas and kebabs…Globally, people are turning to plant-based meats for various reasons – some for health, some are curious and some are doing so for ethical reasons. This is a relatively new category in India and there is a need to create awareness and educate people about this," she said. She noted that the brand seeks to "reimagine how the masses consume meat by providing equally juicy and succulent plant-based options".
While plant-based meat is a rage in international markets that are looking at reducing the carbon footprint linked to animal farming, it is also steadily gaining ground in India with companies like Blue Tribe Foods, Veggie Champ and GoodDot bringing in a range of plant-based meats for Indian consumers. "These protein-based products by Imagine Meats are made with no cholesterol, no animal hormones or antibiotics, making it an ideal solution for those who want to indulge in the rich experience of meat-eating without the guilt of harming animals," Imagine Meats co-founder Riteish Deshmukh said.
Imagine Meats offers nine variants of ready-to-prepare meats, including keemas, seekh kebabs, biryani dishes, nuggets and sausages via plant-based varieties sans real meat. The products are already available in Nature's Basket and Reliance Retail outlets in Mumbai; and online through its direct-to-consumer website. The company had started with sales in Mumbai and has now expanded sales to Delhi. Riteish said the company plans to expand its presence to 25-30 cities by the end of FY22.
"The pandemic has changed the way we shop and people are comfortable buying grocery online…We want to be available in as many places as possible. We started with Mumbai and are now in Delhi, we would want to be present in 25-30 cities by the end of the fiscal," he said. He added that the company is also looking at institutional partnerships for its products.
Besides, Imagine Meats is also working on products that would cater to fish and pork meat lovers. "We have done a couple of trials…we are looking at bringing in these products into the market in the next six months. Besides, we will also expand our existing range with more products," he added.
Genelia said the brand aims to provide consumers an assortment of options from which they can choose their favourite flavourful indulgence without having to give in to their animal meat cravings. After years of working on the idea and months of food trials throughout the pandemic, it has finally come to fruition, and we are thrilled to bring protein-rich, delicious plant-based meats to everybody's plates…it is the perfect solution for meat-lovers like Riteish who find giving up animal meat quite a challenge," she said.
She explained that plant-based meats are produced directly from plants or crop ingredients such as soy protein, pea protein and sunflower oil. Just like conventional meat, these next-gen plant-based options are composed of proteins, vitamins, minerals, water and fat, and offer complex carbs and fibre – alongside replicating the taste, texture and experience of meat-eating.
However, the company spent time on research and product development to ensure that the product texture and taste is like meat, she added.