ALTN first launched into Singapore’s food service sector in December 2020, with 10 SKUs such as gyoza, shaomai, Hainanese chicken rice, spaghetti bolognese, chicken nuggets and sausage rolls.
Singapore-based TYJ is a manufacturer of frozen and ready-to-eat Asian convenience foods. Among the brands it produces include Spring Home (spring roll pastry, roti paratha, dim sum), Happy Belly (gyoza skin, wonton skin, mantou), Master Chef (crepe pastry), and Ryushobo (Japanese ramen).
According to TYJ’s assistant market development manager, Collin Sim, the company conceptualised the idea of meat-free products as an alternative solution to its meat and seafood-based dim sum range, which was a challenge to be exported to overseas markets such as US and EU due to health regulations and customs requirements.
The export-oriented TYJ currently distributes its products to more than 80 countries.
“We have a range of meat and seafood-based products like dim sum, but with these products, it can be quite a challenge, with health regulations and custom requirements varying with countries.
In 2019, international meat-free players like Impossible and Beyond started growing their presence in Singapore. "We realized the huge market potential, and that was when we started to aggressively work on this meat-free project that we already had on hand."
Sim was quick to acknowledge that plant-based and vegetarian foods have always existed in the market, “but these new plant-based players have made the plant-based trend more attractive to consumers.”
“A lot of consumers in Singapore are starting to demand meat-free products, and it is only a matter of time before we see a lot of Singapore companies engaging in this future food.”
In Singapore, Sim said the meat-free space was slowly growing, which includes both plant-based as well as cell-based foods.
ALTN – Asian to Western
ALTN meals consist of Asian and Western finger foods and ready-to-eat meals.
“Most of the plant-based brands in the market are focused on Western products like patties, sausages and meatballs,” Sim told FoodNavigator-Asia.
“We believe we are one of the first companies creating a meat-free dim sum range.” Although, there was increasing more players from Taiwan, Hong Kong and China.
Last year, Quorn announced the launch of its meat-free dim sum series in Singapore, selling through food service and retail channels.
According to Sim, ALTN is made from a mixture of plant-based proteins including soy, pea and fungus.
Sim said a mixture was used to achieve the desired taste and mouthfeel, “Taste and texture are top priorities for us. When people consume ALTN, they should not feel like they are compromising on quality and satisfaction.”
For bigger players like Impossible and Beyond, they mostly focus on a single protein, such as soy and pea, respectively.
According to Sim, the R&D team is working on other meat-free products such as ngoh hiang (five-spice pork roll), otah (minced seasoned fish), nasi lemak, laksa, mee siam, as well as meatballs, patties and sausages. Release dates have not been finalised.
For international expansion, TYJ hopes to export ALTN to Asia, EU, Oceania and US by the first half of 2021, into both food service and retail channels. Discussions with distributors are currently underway.
ALTN products are manufactured in the same facilities as TYJ’s other brands.
ALTN products are frozen and have shelf lives between 24 and 36 months.
As a manufacturer of frozen and convenience foods, TYJ saw a surge in retail sales last year, especially for its prata products, as people were cooking more at home.
However, its food service sales were affected badly amid different lockdown restrictions in many countries.
Sim said retail sales managed to help offset the drop in food service sales, cushioning the impact of the pandemic.