Alt Protein Watch: v2food, insect protein in APAC, Nestle's take on plant-based development and more feature in our round-up

By Pearly Neo

- Last updated on GMT

v2food, insect protein in APAC, Nestle's take on plant-based development and more feature in this edition of Alt Protein Watch. ©Getty Images
v2food, insect protein in APAC, Nestle's take on plant-based development and more feature in this edition of Alt Protein Watch. ©Getty Images

Related tags alternative protein

v2food, insect protein in APAC, Nestle's take on plant-based development and more feature in this edition of Alt Protein Watch.

Hassle-free healthy eating: Australia’s v2food eyes new avenues of growth through acquisition of ready meals brand

Australia’s plant-based pioneer v2food is aiming to strengthen its position in the category through the acquisition of ready meals brand Soulara, with portfolio expansion and broadening sales channels as growth drivers.

The acquisition process started in September 2023 and concluded in January this year. According to Tim York, CEO of v2food, one of the main reasons for this move is the common customer base shared by plant-based and ready meals categories.

“Most of our products are ingredients that go into meals, such as burgers, sausages, mince, crumbed chicken, etc. We’ve been exploring new avenues of growth and one category we are most interested in is ready meals because we see a big overlap with the consumer demographic for plant-based foods."

Go big for bugs: APAC insect protein sector needs substantial big brand and retailer support to move past longstanding 'nascent' stage

The Asia Pacific insect protein industry will need a substantial amount of both big brand and retailer support alongside regulatory developments in order to move past its longstanding 'nascent' status towards more mainstream progress.

Insect protein has been recognised as a food source from a traditional point of view for centuries, and even by modern standards the use of this as an alternative protein source to make more modern product interpretations such as snacks and pastas has been in the works for at least around a decade.

However, many years on the sector remains firmly in the ‘nascent’ stage, in obvious contrast to other alternative protein sectors such as plant-based and precision fermentation which have grown leaps and bounds in terms of commercialisation in the past decade -FoodNavigator-Asia​ takes a closer look at the challenges and hurdles standing in the way of faster prowess for this industry.

One theory has been that the sector came off to a poor start due to teething issues with formats and innovation, coupled with a lack of support from big brands and retailers over the years.

Removing labels: Nestlé urges a ‘more modest approach’ and greater focus on taste to spur plant-based development

Food and beverage major Nestlé Professional claims there is a need to move away from marketing keywords such as “plant-based” and focus on elevating the taste of alternative protein products to boost “natural” uptake and sector growth.

A constant focus area of innovation for the firm is sustainability, where efforts span ingredients sourcing and manufacturing to packaging and delivery of products to the end consumer. It also has a range of plant-based products under the brand HARVEST GOURMET.

“Sustainability is a priority for every FMCG company. While the plant-based business is a huge focus for us, sustainability is not just about meat alternatives. At the same time, we have to be realistic about consumer needs. We see that in Singapore specifically and generally in Asia, the appetite for meat replacement is limited. There are already many nice alternatives, such as soy products,” ​said Paul Nagelkerken, Country Business Manager at Nestlé Professional Singapore.

‘No clarity’: India plant-based milk brands veer away from conventional dairy terms

Plant-based dairy brands in India are continuing to steer away from using conventional dairy terms on their product labels until regulators issue greater clarity on what is permitted.

Back in 2020 and 2021, the Food Safety and Standards Authority India (FSSAI) announced a ban on the use​ of conventional dairy terms such as ‘milk’ and ‘cheese’ for plant-based products. It also directed plant-based manufacturers to modify the product labels of all such products and e-commerce platforms to delist these​ as well.

This order was successfully stayed​ by the Delhi High Court later in 2021 after five companies took action. Despite this, industry uncertainty remains today.

“The ban is essentially still a motion in hearing at the court level at this time,”​ Rohit Jain, Co-Founder and CEO of Drums Food International which was one of the five companies that contributed to the initial ban being stayed, told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

‘Protein out of thin air’: World-first chocolate promises high-iron, high-fibre option for vegan and health-conscious consumers

Finnish food company Fazer has launched the world’s first chocolate made using ‘protein out of thin air’ in Singapore, citing its high iron and fibre content as attractive for vegan and health-conscious consumers.

The ‘protein out of thin air’ in question is Solein, developed by foodtech company Solar Foods, which Fazer is a major investor and stakeholder in. Solein obtained regulatory approval as a novel food product from the Singapore Food Agency in 2022.

Fazer is one of Finland’s most well-known chocolate brands, and is best known for its Geisha and KarlFazer brands in the Asia Pacific region. The firm has dubbed this novel chocolate ‘Taste the Future, highlighting its status as the first ever FMCG product to utilise Solein.

“We felt that with such a novel ingredient it was important to focus on a product format that consumers are familiar with, and since Fazer is best known for our chocolate it made sense to formulate in this format first,”​ Fazer Corporate Ventures Senior Manager Siiri Pihlainen told FoodNavigator-Asia​ at its first tasting event in Singapore.

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