India’s first and leading plant-based egg startup, Evo Foods, has recently welcomed veteran vegan founder Ryan Bethencourt as its first angel investor and advisor alongside US-Asia impact venture firm Big Idea Ventures. The food tech uses food science and plant biochemistry to develop a vegan egg alternative, which they hope will catalyse much needed disruption for a more sustainable food system.
Founded by Kartik Dixit and Shraddha Bhansali in 2019, Evo Foods is an Mumbai-based food tech startup on a mission to transform India’s egg market with its 100% plant-based liquid egg product. Created with the latest food biotechnology, the startup harnesses plant proteins derived from lentils to create a sustainable yet delicious “evolved” egg replica that comes without cholesterol, antibiotics or any animal cruelty.
While the promising vegan startup has yet to officially launch its first prototype, it has recently attracted angel investment from Ryan Bethencourt, the co-founder and CEO of clean protein pet food company Wild Earth, famed for being featured on the reality series Shark Tank, and former program director at biotech accelerator and early-stage seed fund IndieBio. Bethencourt will also join as an advisor for Evo Foods.
“I’m delighted to be joining them as their first angel investor alongside Big Idea Ventures and joining them as an advisor as they scale across the world’s largest plant based market,” announced Bethencourt in a post.
Evo Foods has previously been backed by Big Idea Ventures, an alt-protein hybrid accelerator and venture capital firm that has invested in multiple other leading food techs in Asia, among them Singapore-based lab-grown shrimp startup Shiok Meats, jackfruit meat company Karana, Beijing’s own “version of Impossible Foods” Zhenmeat.
“When we saw the investment opportunity from Evo, it was pretty clear that Kartik was on to something massive and would be a game-changer for not only the India market but globally,” Andrew Ive, founder and managing general partner at Big Idea Ventures told Green Queen.
Varun Deshpande, Managing Director at the Good Food Institute India, told Green Queen that he believes India is a unique market when it comes to plant-based food inputs and innovation. “Evo Foods is emblematic of the value India can bring to the global alternative proteins landscape. Our agricultural diversity and talent pool means Indian entrepreneurs can bring products made from pulses, lentils and other crops to market, providing ever-increasing choice to consumers all over the world, and at affordable prices.”
While the vegan and vegetarian market has undergone major growth in recent years, much of the innovation has been focused on meat. Clara Foods, which uses fermentation technology to replicate the protein in eggs without animal cells, and foodtech player JUST are part of a very small group of startups working on slaughter-free egg substitute product.
Clara Foods focuses on supplying the food manufacturing supply chain, while JUST’s version made from mung beans retails in Singapore, Hong Kong and Macau as well as its home market of the United States. According to the company, JUST’s liquid egg, which contains 7 grams of protein per serve at a fraction of the environmental footprint, accounts for 30% of all purchased units in the liquid egg category.
There has yet to be a similar uptake in vegan liquid egg substitutes amongst Asian consumers, signalling a huge market for Evo Foods to capitalise on, given that eggs remain one of the most affordable and convenient sources of animal protein for millions in the region. India, for instance, produces a whopping 100 billion eggs a year, while in China, the figure is nearing 600 billion annually.
Although experts across the board agree that price and taste will remain key challenges to overcome, there is huge potential in terms of impact if a homegrown plant-based egg food tech is successful. The news underlines the growing alternative protein ecosystem in India and is a harbinger of things to come.
“We’re glad to support emerging market activity from the Indian plant-based sector and believe companies like Evo Foods can be truly transformative for the global food system,” added Deshpande.