INDIA – AAK, through its majority-owned Indian joint venture, AAK Kamani, has teamed up with the Good Food Institute (GFI) India to collaborate on research and business promotion aimed at advancing the country’s highly promising market for plant-based meat and dairy alternatives.

Through the partnership, AAK said that its Customer Innovation Center in Mumbai will host AAK Kamani Academy sessions designed to help businesses and entrepreneurs take advantage of the significant opportunities that exist in India’s plant-based foods category.

The Sweden-based manufacturer of value-adding specialty vegetable fats and oils added that Good Food Institute India’s partnership will also enable the company to provide co-development expertise on how companies can accelerate the formulation of new products.

According to the company, the partnership will have a particular focus on achieving optimal texture and appealing to local tastes. The collaboration is closely linked to AAK’s global AkoPlanet initiative, which provides a platform for plant-based food innovations.

“This collaboration means we can provide more support to both established food producers and start-ups, promoting the fast-track development of plant-based meat and dairy alternatives for the Indian market,” said Dheeraj Talreja, President of AAK Kamani.

“We are particularly excited to work with the Good Food Institute India. As a non-profit organization, it is globally recognized for supporting the development of sustainable and healthy plant-based foods.”

Also commenting on the partnership, Niall Sands, President Plant-based Foods at AAK, highlighted that while there are a lot of products on the market already, developing great-tasting plant-based foods is one of the main challenges today.

Based on this focus, Niall observed that maintaining the growing interest in plant-based foods will require companies to continue improving the sensory experience.

“From a global perspective we also need to be mindful of the need to adapt to regional taste preferences. This is why I’m so pleased to start our collaboration with the Good Food Institute in India,” Niall said.

Varun Deshpande, Managing Director at the Good Food Institute India, added that amid the climate change challenges facing the world, which subsequently pose a threat to food security, accelerating the development of the plant-based meat, egg and dairy sector is imperative to building a more secure and resilient protein supply.

“Indian businesses and scientists have immense potential to be at the center of this development, driving affordability and sensory experiences as well as cultural appeal in transformative plant-based foods – but they need support on their journey,” Varun said.

“We’re delighted to have pioneering corporate partners like AAK Kamani in our mission for smart protein. Their ingredients and co-development expertise will be integral to building a more healthy, sustainable and just global food system.”

The move echos AAK’s plans to step up its focus and investments within plant-based foods, develop a health & nutrition platform as well as continue investing in special nutrition and chocolate & confectionery fats while focusing on optimizing performance within bakery and dairy.

“We are well positioned with our offer of plant-based, healthy, high value-adding oils and fats solutions, using our customer co-development approach,” said Johan Westman, President and CEO of AAK in a statement during the company’s previous financial year report presentation.

AAK recently appointed food industry veteran and former chief executive at Biomega Group, Sten Estrup as the company’s new President of Asia to continue nurturing the company’s consumer-centric culture in the region.