Set to launch in December, HAPPIEE! is a plant-based brand consisting of a four SKUs under the soy-based chicken range such as nuggets and patties, and two SKUs comprising sticks and patties in the konjac-based fish range.
The products will be distributed by Country Foods and Indoguna, and available through food service and supermarkets.
Another new product to be launch separately from the HAPPIEE! range is a plant-based salmon flakes made from soy, which will be made available for food service.
Growthwell started as a manufacturer of vegetarian food in 1989, and is now turning into a plant-based nutrition food-tech company, offering foodservice as well as consumer brands like OKK, GoMama, and HAPPIEE!.
Growthwell is tapping on its 30 years of know-how in understanding of local food culture and cuisine to differentiate its products.
“People want familiarity, so it might be easier for Asian consumers to try a plant-based curry then say maybe a burger,” Manuel Bossi, deputy CEO at Growthwell Foods said.
Another way is through its offering of plant-based fish, a key component of the diet in South East Asia. The company uses konjac as an ingredient, which it believes is the only company doing so. It also tags konjac as a healthy ingredient that is low in carbohydrate and high in fibre.
The company recently set up a new innovation, R&D and manufacturing centre which will feature Singapore’s first large-scale High Moisture Extrusion (HME) line and first fully automated production line for manufacturing, freezing and packaging.
The facility can extrude 1,500 tons of protein, and produce 2,500 tons of plant-based meat and seafood products annually.
This HME line will enable Growthwell to significantly improve the texture of its plant-based meat products.
Typically, low moisture extrusion is the standard method for making plant-based products.
“Some people call high moisture extrusion - plant based 2.0, as it can create meat-like texture with the least number of additives,” Bossi said.
“This allows us to create tastier and cleaner label products. We want to make sure that we can make products that are truly healthier for people”
The R&D activities will focus on improving the taste and nutritional properties of its plant-based products.
It will explore suitable protein sources such as chickpeas and mung beans to provide clean, complete, and healthy proteins.
Growthwell is currently working with ChickP, an Israeli food technology startup to incorporate chickpea isolate into a variety of plant based applications.
ChickP has developed a proprietary process and technology to make a 90% pure chickpea isolate, that is high in fibre and minerals and mild in smell and taste. It is also a complete protein with all nine essential amino acids, is non-GMO and non-allergenic, “which means that more people can have access to that,” Bossi said.
Because of these characteristics, Growthwell is exploring chickpea’s use in dairy alternatives. Growthwell Group owns 51% of ChickP.
Earlier this year, ChickP announced plans to open a new office and warehouse in Singapore to better serve its customers in Asia-Pacific. It currently serves customers in over 20 countries in APAC from its office, warehouse and application lab in Israel.
According to Itay Dana, ChickP’s vice president of sales and business development, where shipments used to take weeks from its warehouse in Israel to Asia, the new warehouse in Singapore will shave this down to a couple of days. ChickP also has a warehouse in US.
100 million target
Growthwell’s mission is to give 100 million people in Asia access to plant based nutrition by 2025, with its B2B and B2C models.
The firm plans to expand into South East Asia and Europe next year.
In September this year, Growthwell raised US$22 million in Series A funding, thrice the amount during its seed round in 2019.
The plant-based industry has been driven by population and economic growth, health and wellness and sustainability, according to Bossi.
By 2030, two-thirds of the world’s population will be middle class. This may mean people are more likely to upgrade their diets and eat more meat and fish.
“It's almost impossible to fulfil that demand with animal protein which is such an inefficient process. It requires land to rear animals and land to grow animal feed,” Bossi said.
There is also the sustainability issue of greenhouse gas emission, water usage, and animal welfare, associated to animal meat.
In addition, increasing attention around health and wellness, have created a case for people to try plant-based diets. Animal protein have been associated to cholesterol, and non-communicable diseases.