‘First-mover advantage’: Asia’s first pea milk firm opts for natural flavour over dairy simulation with pioneering products

By Pearly Neo contact

- Last updated on GMT

Asia’s first pea milk firm Snappea seeks to make the most of its first-mover advantage by emphasising the natural flavour of peas in its products as opposed to simulating dairy. ©Snappea
Asia’s first pea milk firm Snappea seeks to make the most of its first-mover advantage by emphasising the natural flavour of peas in its products as opposed to simulating dairy. ©Snappea

Related tags: Pea, plant-based, plant-based dairy

Asia’s first pea milk firm Snappea seeks to make the most of its first-mover advantage by emphasising the natural flavour of peas in its products as opposed to simulating dairy, believing that this sets it apart from other milk alternatives in the market.

Malaysia-based Snappea lays claim to being the first milk alternative made from peas in the region, and has both pros and cons that come along with it, according to Snappea Founder & Director Justin Chan.

“Being the first pea milk in Asia gives us a first-mover advantage, but this also means there is a lot of educational and awareness work to be done,”​ he told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

“For instance, I bet probably eight out of 10 people have never heard of pea milk before, so building awareness is really important, and it’s up to us to get the word out there [as there are no preexisting players in this particular area].”

In doing this, Snappea has also shunned the common practice of trying to make its products taste similar to dairy, instead advocating its catchphrase #RethinkthePea.

“Our approach is very different from other milk alternatives out there in the market – we want people to embrace the taste of peas, as this is one of the most sustainable food sources in the world, and so the aim is for consumers to embrace this and make it a part of their daily diets, instead of hiding the taste of it,”​ Chan added.

“Most others try to mimic taste of dairy milk, so tend to use flavourings and the like to cover the taste of whatever original ingredient they are using to make this more similar to dairy. For us, we don’t use any flavourings at all, even in our chocolate variant where we only use pure cocoa to get the chocolate flavour.”

Snappea comes in three one-litre variants – Utterly Original, Simply Unsweetened and Richly Chocolate, all of which undergo a UHT process to remove bacteria and ensure shelf stability, such that no cold chain is required for transportation even though no preservatives are used in its manufacturing process.

Hybrid marketing

Because cold chain is not required for transport, the firm is in an ideal position to expand via exports, and this is going to be high on the priority list for Snappea this year, according to Chan.

“We’re already exporting to Singapore and Brunei, and expansion [to more markets in APAC] will be a main area of focus for us over the coming year [as] we’ve already received interest from several more countries in the region,”​ he said.

Snappea is particularly active in social media marketing, but Chan told us that this is actually part of a ‘hybrid model’, which is crucial in marketing food products – especially novel ones like pea milk which the market is unfamiliar with.

“We adopt a hybrid model where social media is used to educate consumers and boost awareness, and offline methods [are employed] such as increasing accessibility in more retail chains as well as doing more samplings [although these have been more limited since COVID-19 hit],” ​said Chan.

“This is because it’s essentially a food product, and a newer one at that, so people need to try it before accepting and buying in larger quantities.”

In terms of accessibility, Snappea has already successfully gotten ranged in some 250 physical outlets nationwide in Malaysia across various major supermarket chains, from the more premium Ben’s Independent Grocer to the rapidly-growing Village Grocer and Jaya Grocer, as well as the widely-coveted Aeon supermarkets.

All three Snappea variants retail for RM14.90 (US$3.60) in Malaysia, S$5.90 (US$4.46) in Singapore and BN$5.90 (US$4.45) in Brunei.

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