Strategy for progress: Indonesian plant-based outfit Meatless Kingdom eyes distribution boost

By Nurul Ain Razali

- Last updated on GMT

Mushrooms are re-engineered by Meatless Kingdom to make 'beef' rendang popular in South East Asia. ©Meatless Kingdom
Mushrooms are re-engineered by Meatless Kingdom to make 'beef' rendang popular in South East Asia. ©Meatless Kingdom

Related tags Indonesia alternative proteins plant-based proteins mushrooms

Indonesia’s mushroom protein firm Meatless Kingdom is set to embark on a business strategy revamp, including international distribution and a focus on flavour enhancement.

It comes after the company received a major boost from New York-based VC firm and start-up accelerator Big Idea Ventures (BIV).

After undergoing mentorship for four months since early February 2022, the CEO of Meatless Kingdom, Widya Putra, is now redirecting his firm to focus on international markets for his products instead of solely focusing on domestic.

The mentorship also granted him access to better networking to distribute his products. For instance, he has now connected with Thailand, and work is in progress to set up distribution channels there. He also gained a deeper understanding of specific foodtech to improve the umami flavour profile of his protein base.

“We used to focus on local (market), but now we have an international network. We are still at the discussion stages and signed some MOUs with a few countries. Our firm also gained a lot of agfarm info, tech and ways to deal with potential investors in future.

“In terms of foodtech, we have already executed some forms of fermentation before the VC accelerator. But after the boost, we gained a deeper knowledge of the technology for flavour, taste and umami of our protein base,”​ said Widya.

Widya Putra and Metania
Meatless Kingdom chiefs Widya Putra (left) and Metania. ©Meatless Kingdom

Meatless Kingdom, established in 2019, is led by Widya alongside Chief Business Officer and partner Metania. The firm has 17 SKUs manufactured in its plant in Cimahi, West Java (south-east of capital Jakarta, central Indonesia region).

The products are available in organic and health shops, modern retail outlets and supermarkets in 107 cities across Indonesia, and on e-commerce sites like Shopee, Tokopedia, Lazada and Bukalapak. It has also expanded distribution to Singapore through Indonesian expatriates, bazaars, Haomart and Shopee shop Indosnacks SG.

Its bestsellers are the ready-to-eat ‘rendang’ (traditional spiced ‘beef’ stew) and sweet ‘dendeng’ (similar to the beef jerky). Other products include mushroom sausages, vegan satay and karaage, mushroom katsu and ‘siomay’ (a variation of the Chinese dumpling ‘siew mai’).

The big idea

Meatless Kingdom is also BIV’s first Indonesian portfolio and part of the fifth accelerator cohort under its Singapore office.

According to BIV founder Andrew D Ive, they were excited about the prospects in the plant-based scene and the Meatless Kingdom in Indonesia and across Asia. The reason is due to the size of the Indonesian market and the opportunities to expand with traditional-style products and flavours, supported by the strong local supply chain in Indonesia.

Moreover, plant-based protein consumption in Indonesia is estimated to increase from USD$109.5 million in 2020 to USD$628.6 million by 2022. The trend is sustained by the wave of becoming flexitarian sweeping across Asia today.

“Meatless Kingdom was chosen due to its emphasis on local, clean-label products that are commercialised and adapted to the Indonesian palate. It had excellent traction through D2C and B2B channels.

“Hence, the strategic R&D roadmap to expand their product line catered to a more international market. For instance, the start-up has created plant-based nuggets suited for the Western palate. Also, unlike current plant-based products that require further processing, the start-up takes consumer convenience into consideration and focuses on the local cuisine.

“Furthermore, Muslims make up 87% of the Indonesian population. There is a big market opportunity to explore in the Muslim community. Meatless Kingdom understands it well, and they managed to get all their products to be halal-certified and make them easier to penetrate other Muslim countries such as Malaysia,”​ said D Ive.

Widya also expressed his enthusiasm and honour at his firm being BIV’s first Indonesian portfolio. However, the young CEO is not resting on his laurels as he sees that the plant-based movement is not a short-lived trend.

“Last year, Indonesia imported around 300,000 tonnes of beef slaughtered from 1.5m cows. We hope we can bring the good impact of plant-based meat to Indonesia, a country that consumes a lot of meat, but 37% of its population is still considered protein-deficient. A quarter suffer from diabetes, and 40% face high cholesterol levels,”​ said Widya.

BIV has also launched a start-up competition dedicated to plant-based innovation in Asia called the Big Idea Food Competition. The VC is looking for start-ups in several countries such as Singapore, Japan, Korea, Thailand, China and Indonesia.

Created in partnership with Informa Markets, the competition will take place in six countries throughout Asia this year, with the finals occurring in April 2023 in Singapore. The winner will receive a USD$200,000 investment package from BIV and automatic inclusion into the eighth cohort of BIV’s accelerator programme based in Singapore.

Probiotics, healthy ageing and protein are major focus areas of our upcoming Growth Asia Summit in Singapore from 11 to 13 October. Check out big-name brands, international experts and pioneering start-ups slated to present here.

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