State of the Industry Report: Smart Protein in India

Executive summary

The smart protein sector in India has seen immense development over the past five years. From a novel category that was unheard of until 5 years ago, it has now struck discourse across businesses, consumers, investors, and the government. Commemorating this journey, our inaugural State of the Industry Report is a comprehensive overview of India’s burgeoning smart protein sector that has the potential to offer a total economic opportunity of $4.2 bn by 2030.

At a time when India’s agricultural sector stands at a critical juncture of sustaining viable and enduring livelihoods for millions of smallholder farmers and providing food and nutritional security to a rapidly growing population, this report showcases how smart protein can be a beacon of hope. An exhaustive compilation of business developments, key technologies, policy updates, and scientific breakthroughs in India over the past five years, this report is a first-ever deep dive into the major highlights from 2021 through April 2023.

Report highlights

Commercial landscape

  • India now boasts over 113 startups across plant-based, fermentation, and cultivated proteins and a network of 100+ companies supporting its growth.
  • This enabling ecosystem has seen prominent players plug in at every section of the value chain—from ingredient suppliers like AAK and ADM, and manufacturing companies like Symega to large conglomerates like Tata and ITC launching their own smart protein range of products.
  • There are totally 377 products, across 41 formats, and 73 smart protein brands across meat, eggs, and dairy available in retail and e-commerce channels.


  • Globally, the alternative protein sector has attracted $14.2 billion over the last decade, with year-on-year investment nearly doubling on average.
  • In India, between 2016 and April 2023, the sector has seen investment from 34 venture capital funds, 27 angel investors and family offices, two corporates, one investor syndicate, and three grant-provisioning organizations.
  • In 2022, companies based in APAC saw 43% year-over-year funding growth to reach $562 million. For the first time in the alternative protein sector’s history, investments from outside of North America represented the majority share of the global total (58 percent vs. 42 percent). In India, smart protein startups recorded a modest $17Mn investments over 2021 and 2022, across all 3 categories.

Science and technology

  • In the last five years, India’s smart protein industry has embraced a significant number of technological interventions leading to novel protein ingredients and a wide range of alternative protein products.
  • Strategic public-private partnerships (PPP) and collaborations between the food industry and equipment manufacturers have accelerated ingredient and product innovations and manufacturing capacity (extrusion facility) in the plant-based smart protein sector.
  • Indian contract development manufacturers have emerged as key suppliers of precision fermentation-derived cell culture media ingredients to leading cultivated meat companies across the globe, demonstrating India’s advanced biomanufacturing capabilities that meet both cost and scale requirements of the industry.

Government and regulation

  • The last two years have seen increasing interest from the Indian government in smart protein as a mechanism for different policy programs. In 2023, the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) instituted a sectoral committee on smart proteins, through which it will invest further in the smart protein sector to improve India’s bioeconomy.
  • Regional governments are realizing the potential of investing in the smart protein sector. In 2022, the Maharashtra government set a target of achieving a $1 trillion economy by 2030 and has included smart protein as a pillar to help reach that target.
  • The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has granted approvals to several plant-based companies and a few fermentation-derived companies to enter the market—marking significant progress for the smart protein industry.

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