Plant power: More urban Thais and Indonesians consuming non-meat sources of protein

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

More urban Thais and Indonesians are turning to vegetables for their protein intake. ©Getty Images
More urban Thais and Indonesians are turning to vegetables for their protein intake. ©Getty Images
Last year, one in three (34%) urban Thais consumed more non-animal sources of protein, a figure that has doubled from 15% in 2016.

A move to non-animal sources of protein was also observed in urban Indonesians. 

Two in five (39%) urban Indonesians consumed non-animal sources of protein last year, as compared to 23% in year 2016. 

Over 2,000 Thais and Indonesians have responded to the survey conducted by market intelligence agency Mintel. 

For both countries, soybean and vegetable are common sources of non-animal protein. However, the Thais are also depending on different types of milk for their protein intake, such as coconut milk and nut milks, said Michelle Teodoro, Global Food Science & Nutrition analyst. 

Soybean and vegetable products that are popular with both Thais and Indonesians include cassava, potato, beans and rice. 

Besides consuming more non-animal sources of proteins, the survey also found that more than half (61%) of urban Thais planned to eat more vegetables or fruits last year, while one in four (24%) of urban Indonesians planned to follow a plant-based or vegetarian diet. 

Based on the survey results, Teodoro commented that “with a shift to plant and lab-based proteins, the world’s reliance on factory-farmed animals will also be reduced.”

She added that there was potential for more innovative, sustainable and alternative protein sources. As such, companies and brands should be looking across industries for inspiration and opportunities for collaboration with scientists and food engineers.

We have recently revealed how manufacturers are coming out with more products that are made from non-animal sources.

Just this year, Dao Foods International​ , a Chinese food firm was set up to launch plant-based protein and clean meat alternatives to the China market, on the back of the country’s soaring demand for meat products.

Even sauces are turning plant-based. We recently reported how US food start-up JUST launched a range of egg-free mayo, ranch dressing and scramble products​ in Hong Kong.

It substituted egg with mung beans and pea protein for its mayo products and ranch products respectively.  

More health conscious

Mintel’s research also revealed that one-in-five urban Thais and urban Indonesians also said that their current diet plan does not allow the consumption of red meat.

More than half — 59% of urban Indonesians and 51% of urban Thais — did so as they believe it is a healthier option.

Besides avoiding red meat, urban Thais are also health conscious when choosing food or drink products to buy. 

56% of the Thais surveyed said that nutritious or health-related factors affect their buying decision the most.

Meat still major in Australia

Over 1,000 urban Australians were also surveyed.

As compared to urban Thais and Indonesians, only one in five (19%) of urban Australians said they have consumed more non-animal sources of protein.

In terms of red meat intake, only 16% of urban Australians said they avoided or intended to avoid red meat last year. Of those who avoided or planned to avoid red meat, half (51%) said that they believe it was healthier if they did so. 

Australia's red meat consumption is sixth in the world on a per-capita basis, just behind USA and Paraguay, according to data from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) for 2016.

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