Alt Protein Watch: Japan's plant-based reluctance, Ultimeat on product localisation, APAC readiness for insect protein and more feature in our round-up

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Japan's plant-based reluctance, Ultimeat on product localisation, APAC readiness for insect protein and more feature in this edition of Alt Protein Watch. ©Getty Images
Japan's plant-based reluctance, Ultimeat on product localisation, APAC readiness for insect protein and more feature in this edition of Alt Protein Watch. ©Getty Images

Related tags: alternative protein

Japan's plant-based reluctance, Ultimeat on product localisation, APAC readiness for insect protein and more feature in this edition of Alt Protein Watch.

Resistance and reticence: Japanese reluctant to ride plant-based protein wave – CEO

Global and regional plant-based protein brands should be prepared to face a reticent crowd should they plan to enter Japan at this juncture, according to the CEO and co-founder of alternative egg firm UMAMI United, Hiroto Yamazaki.

Based on his and his team’s experience, the Japanese market is “far behind” in adopting plant-based proteins and it is difficult to advocate to them.

“Compared to ‘meat-heavy’ countries, it is difficult to advocate to the Japanese consumer. We face problems when promoting our products. That’s why we want to use of this opportunity to approach them,”​ said Hiroto.

Custom ‘meat’: Malaysian plant-based outfit Ultimeat on tailoring products for different markets – MD

Malaysian plant-based protein firm the Ultimeat Group plans to tailor its formulation and packaging to every market it intends to enter from 2023 to 2024.

MD Edwin Lee laid out the firm’s expansion plans, starting with entry to neighbouring Singapore in Q1 2023, followed by Indonesia, Dubai and the UK in Q2, Sydney in Q3 and the US in Q4. China, however, will be accessed in Q1 2024, he said.

Crawling up the charts: APAC insect protein tech ahead of the curve, but market readiness still lagging

Insect protein-based foods in the Asia Pacific region have a distinct advantage in terms of production costs and are ahead of the curve when it comes to technology, but market readiness still remains the main bottleneck for the sector to fully thrive locally.

In this edition of the FNA Deep Dive, we take a closer look at the trends that continue to slowly but surely drive the growth of the insect protein foods sector, and the major challenges continuing to hinder it in the APAC region.

‘More push than pull’: China plant-based brands still having to explain category to major retailers

Plant-based brands in China aiming to be listed in mainstream supermarkets and convenience stores are still having to educate retailers about the category, as well as extol the virtues of their own products.

Entry into mainstream retail in China is known to be notoriously competitive and challenging, and the challenge is even more substantial for fledgling novel categories such as plant-based.

“Almost every food-brand wants to be listed at mainstream supermarkets in China, so negotiations tend to be more challenging – and big successful supermarket chains are amongst the most challenging,” ​Chins plant-based yoghurt brand Jooma’s Managing Director Ran Guo told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

Tyson VP exclusive part II: Cost competitiveness and product versatility key to success in any protein category

Ensuring the affordability and versatile functionality of products is key to attracting and retaining consumer loyalty when attempting to launch and grow any new category in the protein sector, according to Tyson Foods’ APAC Vice President Commercial Lee Yeong Sheng.

 Lee has also shared some of the company’s secrets on creating protein products – both animal and plant-based – that have attracted both consumer interest and loyalty over the years.

“For the plant-based range in particular we have come to realise that our consumers here are actually very loyal to the brand even compared with our animal product consumers,”​ he told us.

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