Animal-free hits: The Top 10 APAC alternative protein stories in 2023

By Pearly Neo

- Last updated on GMT

We bring you the top 10 most-read alternative protein stories from the APAC food and beverage industry in 2023.
We bring you the top 10 most-read alternative protein stories from the APAC food and beverage industry in 2023.

Related tags alternative protein Top 10 2023

We bring you the top 10 most-read alternative protein stories from the APAC food and beverage industry in 2023, featuring this year's updates on plant-based meat and dairy, cultivated meat and hybrid products from Kraft Heinz, All G Foods, Perfect Day and more.

Upgrades and opportunities: Kraft Heinz pumps investment into Indonesia, eyes meat replacement innovation

Global food giant Kraft Heinz has said that investment in an upgraded facility and new sustainability pledges reaffirm its commitment to the crucial Indonesia market, while it has also revealed it is examining opportunities in the meat replacement space.

Although Kraft Heinz is not primarily a conventional meat or protein focused firm, with the rise of the plant-based trend the firm is also looking at potentially expanding in this direction.

“Most of our plant based replacements so far are predominantly from a beans base - we see beans as the next sort of great superfood because the broad beans, pulses, legumes etc. space is really nutritionally incredible and also really good for the planet,”​ Kraft Heinz International Zone ESG Director David Shaw told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

“When you go into a supermarket or a store, a lot of domination is by a few commodity areas that haven't really been based on the health of the consumer or the health of the planet - but we really see beans are a great opportunity to drive both [potentially as a] meat replacement ingredient."

Australia’s All G Foods scales up for debut of precision fermented proteins in Singapore by end-2024

Sydney-based precision fermentation firm All G Foods has doubled down on R&D and consumer insights research to complete its first finished product, setting its sights on the APAC, Middle East and US markets.

With the world’s population projected to reach nearly 10bn by 2050, the planet “simply does not have the resources” to provide food for all its human inhabitants, said Roman Buckow, Chief Technology Officer of All G Foods.

“We saw an opportunity to take the best that nature has to offer — in terms of cow’s protein — and complement it with science and cutting-edge technology to develop cultured dairy proteins via precision fermentation. The goal is to bring high-quality and tasty Australian-made dairy products to local and global consumers,” ​Buckow told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

Precision fermentation adds value to food supply chain, not competition – Perfect Day

Perfect Day has teamed up with big players like Nestle and Unilever to broaden the applications of its whey protein, while leading new innovations through precision fermentation.

After introducing ice cream brand Coolhaus to the Singapore market mid-2023, Perfect Day followed up with the launch of Very Dairy in late November.  Although vegan-friendly, Very Dairy’s milk products are not plant-based.

They are made from Perfect Day’s hero ingredient — whey protein — the world’s first animal-free protein developed using precision fermentation technology.

“The ecosystem in Singapore, including the government and regulatory agencies, is very supportive of not only food-technology and alternative-protein companies like us, but also the overall sustainable agri-food industry.

“Local consumers are also keenly aware of food-security and food-sustainability issues. Take for instance, Malaysia’s export ban of live chickens earlier this year. People know that it is not a distant problem. That’s why they are now more accepting of new products,” ​Li Zhengxi, Country Manager at Perfect Day, told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

Plant-based challenges: Why ethics, environment and regulatory issues need to be addressed - new review

The booming plant-based sector requires further scientific, technological and regulatory improvements in order to address consumer concerns and increase its commercial sustainability, researchers in China and the US said earlier this year.

While the global commercialisation of meat substitutes is intended to counteract the environmental impact of the worldwide growth in meat consumption, it faces technological, consumer and regulatory challenges.

So far, research on meat substitutes has emphasised commercialisation, technological enhancements and lowering costs, with little attention paid to regulatory issues, ethical risk perception, environmental pollution and safety, states the paper.

Based on these issues, researchers in China and the US conducted a review of published studies to examine four key challenges facing plant-based meat (PM) and cultured meat (CM) substitutes: technology, commercialisation, hazards, and regulatory oversight.

Consumer preferences are mainly influenced by taste and price. In order for meat substitutes to match the taste of meat, food additives are necessary in their production. Manufacturers must also consider that consumers “prefer natural additives to chemical additives in meat substitutes”, ​said the report.

Beyond the ‘obsession’: Are alternative proteins truly the best path to a sustainable food supply?

Creating a sustainable food supply to meet population demands will require more than just a focus on growing the alternative proteins sector despite its current hype, industry experts have said.

Alternative protein has been one of the biggest trends to hit the food and beverage sector in the past few years, with many strongly believing that it represents the end-solution to creating a sustainable food supply to feed an estimated 10 billion global population by 2050.

But despite its rapid growth and the keen interest both big brands and emerging start-ups have taken in this sector, experts have questioned the veracity and practicality of focusing too much on this to the detriment of developing other potential solutions.

“There is a clear overemphasis on protein [when] today the evidence clearly shows there is no global ‘protein gap,”​ food systems expert and author of International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food) report Politics of Protein Professor Phil Howard said.

World’s most vegan-friendly nation? New climate bill reinforces support for plant-based diets rooted in Taiwanese culture

Taiwan’s largest plant-based food manufacturers have claimed that consumers are increasingly adopting vegetarian diets for sustainability and health reasons as opposed to religious factors, and that government policies have helped propel further growth.

Taiwan’s Council of Agriculture passed a climate bill earlier this year mandating government departments to promote low-carbon diets, including plant-based and locally sourced foods.

This was preceded by lobbying from local civil society organizations, which managed to get sufficient political support to pass the bill.

We spoke with two of the largest plant-based food manufacturers in Taiwan, Hoya Foods and Vegefarm, who said that the bill was 'not surprising at all'​ given the Taiwanese government’s long-standing supportive approach.

From tumour risk to microbiome harm: FAO and WHO debunk four cell-based meat misconceptions

The FAO and WHO debunked four key misconceptions and concerns surrounding cell-based meat earlier this year, spanning tumour risks to a negative impact on the microbiome.

In a new report featuring insights from regulators, researchers, and industry experts, it assessed the key food safety considerations​ of cell-based innovations and strategies to improve consumer understanding of the category.

Part of this involved commentating on several concerns that were garnering significant media attention:

Given the attention they have received, these concerns have been considered by the Technical Panel, even if it was not possible to describe a sequence of events consistent with the current understanding of relevant science that could result in harm to consumers,​” the report explained.

Asia’s most ‘unfavourable markets’ for plant-based revealed as report highlights price and processing concerns

Price premiums, unsatisfactory taste, and a persistent perception of over-processed products are the most common barriers to plant-based meat consumption in Asian markets, experts have said.

A report from alt-protein think tank Food Frontier released earlier this year stated that the most unfavourable markets for plant-based growth were Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines - and India, despite being the world’s largest vegetarian population.

The dominance of traditional plant proteins, such as tempeh and tofu in Indonesia and dahl in Indonesia, and the higher prices of plant-based alternatives were key barriers for plant-based growth.

Other impeding factors were trade-related, such as lengthy business procedures and an underdeveloped distribution capacity in cold storage and logistic infrastructure.

Keep it simple: Why minimal processing is key to winning over Asian plant-based consumers

Minimal processing and healthier formulation is key to achieving plant-based success in Asia where health drivers trump sustainability concerns, according to a Thai brand blazing a trail in the category.

Despite its accelerated growth in the Asia Pacific region over the past few years, the plant-based sector still faces the challenge of consumer misconceptions regarding its ingredients, processing methods and nutritional content.

Many plant-based meat producers today have opted to focus on delivering a minimally processed, low-salt, high-nutritional value messaging when it comes to marketing their products.

“Until today, even in a market where plant-based is growing quickly like Thailand, it is a common misconception for many consumers in Asia that plant-based meat products automatically equal to ultraprocessed food products,”​ plant-based meat brand Meat Avatar Co-Founder Wiphu Loetsuraphibun told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

‘2028 to reach cost parity’: Steakholder Foods targeting food firm partnerships as it eyes 3D cultivated meat printing commercialisation

3D-printed cultivated meat firm Steakholder Foods has highlighted aims to reach cost parity with conventional products by 2028, whilst also exploring new partnerships to boost its 3D printing capabilities in hopes of full commercialisation next year.

Eight months after launching its marbled cultured beef product​, it debuted a ready-to-cook cultivated grouper fish product utilising grouper cells provided by its Singapore counterpart Umami Meats.

After the meat was cultivated with animal cells inside a bioreactor, 3D printing was then used to regulate the nutritional content as well as to provide a more realistic texture.

Speaking to FoodNavigator-Asia earlier this year, Steakholder Foods’ co-founder and CEO Arik Kaufman explained that it wanted to expand its portfolio to demonstrate its capabilities in both 3D-printing diversified species and partnering with different industry players, spanning cultivated meat start-ups to larger, traditional meat or fish producers.

Related topics Markets

Related news