Although the plant-based category has been seeing undisputedly immense growth over the past several years, much of this has been focused on frozen products, with most big plant-based names from Impossible to Beyond to Nestle’s Harvest Gourmet and Tyson’s First Pride all having established firm presence in the frozen plant-based meat market.
A far less-explored sector thus far has been in the dry-form, ambient space, but increasingly firms such as Singapore’s Thoughtful Food believe that this format could be the answer to solving a lot of the issues the sector is still struggling to overcome.
“We have produced a range of dry, ambient protein mixes that are made into alternative meat products, and while we initially kept this dry format in order to reduce carbon emissions, we have found this to also give more benefits such as longer shelf life and less need for additional flavourings,” Thoughtful Food Country Director Karen Lam told FoodNavigator-Asia.
“Every effort has also been made to keep the ingredients list clean - five or six natural ingredients are used to make these, noting that cannot be pronounced, and because there are no added seasonings or table salt the sodium level is naturally occurring and very low, such that we have already been granted the Healthier Choice logo by the Singapore Health Promotion Board (HPB).”
The firm already offers dry-form plant-based chicken, beef, prawn and basic mince options, but Lam further stressed that this format allows for plant-based firms to promise unparalleled product versatility and convenience.
“Given that this is offered in a mix, it can be shaped to make anything from nuggets to skewers to meatballs to burger patties to being used in pastas, pies, curries, stir-fried dishes and so on, even in soups, so there is enormous versatility,” she said.
“This dry format is also able to provide greater convenience to consumers, which is increasingly important today as travel resumes and consumers may not always have a full kitchen facility available for them to cook in or a freezer to bring frozen products around wherever they are, so dry, ambient products can be a good solution.
“At present consumers still may need to source for their own sauces and sides but moving forward we are looking at increasing the convenience direction by packing the protein mixes into sauces made of all natural ingredients so that all is needed is boiling water to warm it up and that will make a whole meal.”
That said, she highlighted that keeping the label clean should remain a priority for the industry as consumers are increasingly demanding this, and the firm believes it will eventually become the norm.
“The last thing any consumer wants to see is a whole long list of ingredients full of unrecognizable names and full of chemicals,” she said.
“So I think it's very important to include all natural products, and keep things as minimally processed as possible as I think that will be one of the key drivers in the near future.”
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