Reinventing tempeh: Singapore’s Angie’s Tempeh outlines R&D and retail ambitions on back of funding boost

By Guan Yu Lim contact

- Last updated on GMT

Angie’s Tempeh is exploring the idea of developing Asian foods such as dim sum with tempeh, as well as a create a ready-to-eat flavoured tempeh products, as part of its plan to expand into the mainstream retail channels ©Angie Tempeh Facebook
Angie’s Tempeh is exploring the idea of developing Asian foods such as dim sum with tempeh, as well as a create a ready-to-eat flavoured tempeh products, as part of its plan to expand into the mainstream retail channels ©Angie Tempeh Facebook

Related tags: tempeh, Singapore, plant-based, Protein

Singapore-based Angie’s Tempeh is exploring the idea of developing Asian foods such as dim sum with tempeh along with expanding into the ready-to-eat space, as part of its plan to tap into mainstream retail channels after receiving a major funding boost.

The company started selling raw, unflavoured tempeh on its online store in 2020, but is now looking to increase its product range.

We believe that tempeh has the right kind of texture, and it can absorb a lot of flavours. With R&D, we can make some kind of filling for dumplings​,” Angeline Leong, co-founder of Angie’s Tempeh told FoodNavigator-Asia.

Angie’s Tempeh’s intends to be Asia's leading supplier of plant protein, and to do that, it will have to sell in mainstream supermarkets.

Right now, we are the only tempeh company in Singapore that is actively making products suitable for the Asian taste. [We believe] more Asian foods  can be re-invented using wholesome plant protein​,” said Leong.

The global tempeh market is expected to reach US$258.7 million by 2025, driven by shifting preference towards vegan food and the increasing acceptance of fermented soy food as an alternative to meat products.

A year of growth

The firm started out as an artisanal brand, making about 10kg of tempeh a day by hand. As business grew, it moved to a factory and can now produce up to 600kg each day.

The tempeh is made from a fermentation process whereby the skin of raw soybeans are first removed because it contains phytic acid.

The beans are then soaked, cooked, and dried. Next, a culture is mixed with the beans, and left to ferment.

Leong said its products are catered to people on plant-based diets, and those who are very conscious of their health.

These people tend to cook more at home, and prefer a protein source that is wholesome, without preservatives, additives, and fillers.

There are not many kinds of protein sources like that out there at the moment. In the alternative protein industry, most of the products are made with the same extrusion process, with ingredients like methyl cellulose and texturised vegetable protein.

“These are very highly processed, and people like our tempeh because it's minimally processed and contains only two ingredients.”

It also produces organic chickpea, buckwheat and quinoa tempeh.

Earlier this year, the firm created a tempeh bak kwa specifically for Chinese New Year. It was sold out within the first two weeks of launch. There are over 1,000 people on the waiting list for the next launch.

Online business

Its online store still accounts for 99% of total sales, but it also sells to some supermarkets, health food stores as well as restaurants.

Despite the pandemic, sales doubled every quarter since the launch.

People were home a lot more and started cooking instead of dining out, and so they were looking for convenient yet healthy products​,” said Leong.

Funding

Angie’s Tempeh was recently part of Cohort 3 of the Big Idea Ventures Accelerator in Singapore. As part of the accelerator, the company received USD $200,000 in venture funding.

The funds will be used for R&D and scaling-up.

Angie's Tempeh is conducting its seed round now in which Big Idea Ventures has helped secured some funds through showcases such as the Tasting Big Ideas 2021 event.

Andrew Ive, founder and managing general partner of Big Idea Ventures said: “Tempeh is a traditional ingredient in many places throughout Asia however the Angie's Tempeh team has taken this ingredient forward in terms of taste, texture and production. They are bringing real innovation to a favorite food across the region​.”

Product development is a high priority and Angie's Tempeh had the chance to work with our own in-house food scientist to improve process flow for manufacturing, extend product shelf life through enhanced packaging guidelines and ultimately ensure nutritional value,

“Angie's Tempeh also successfully filed patents for its  proprietary techniques of upcycling soy milk by-product (Okara) in tempeh products and new product skews such as Tempeh Bak Kwa and an all-purpose format minced tempeh​,” he added.

Big Idea Ventures has invested in 44 companies with the New Protein Fund, and plans to support another 50 more companies in the plant-based, cell-based, fermentation-based meat, seafood and dairy space.

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